Saturday, May 3, 2014

Attention span

Graduations are very cool things. For every single person who walks across that stage, it's one of the most important days of their life. Family and friends are there, because they all want to be there for the graduate who has worked so hard for that day.

I attended a graduation ceremony today for the University of Alabama. So first let me say congratulations to my nephew-in-law-to-be (that's not a word, is it?) Drew, who was graduated today with an engineering degree. A major accomplishment, believe me. And he deserves double congratulations, because he will be marrying my niece Macy, one of the three top young ladies in the millennial generation.

So…I was sitting in Coleman Coliseum and the graduation candidates began to file in. It took around 25 minutes for them all to get to their seats. It was quite a sight - rows and rows and rows of young college students (for another hour or so), and for each one of them, this day was huge. I estimate that a little over a thousand names were read in this ceremony. A thousand! And it was only one of three ceremonies that were necessary to get all the students graduated.

So what do you do when you are about to listen to a thousand names being read? Names being read, with no commentary in between, for well over an hour. Well, you can zone out. You play a game, or surf Facebook or Twitter on your phone. You can use your Kindle app to read something. Or you can try to actually listen to every name. After all, the thousands of people sitting in Coleman were really there to hear one name, and one name only, read - their loved one.

I must confess that I go through all of the above every time I attend a graduation. It's hard. I really do even go through a time period where I'm trying to think how important it is for each person and listen…but the mind wanders so easily. The human attention span has its limits.

That's why I am absolutely in awe of my Father in heaven. His does not. For him, it took no effort at all for him to give complete and undivided attention to each and every graduate who crossed that stage. He knows them all by name, has numbered every hair on their heads, and cares about every single detail of their lives. While I'm struggling to listen - in spurts - he is reacting to every single one of them the way we reacted when it was Drew's turn. For him, like us, the ceremony is about the one he came to see. Except…it's all of them!

Hear what the Scripture says about each of them - and all of us…
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
- Psalm 139:1-5

He got that right! Way too wonderful for me to grasp. Yeah, I knew that already, intellectually. I knew it was impossible to grasp how in the world God could know every single one of us personally - and love us. But as I listened to name after name after name after name……………it began to hit me. God's ways are so much higher than mine. There's no point to me ever trying to second guess him.

But I am convinced that it is true. And I am thankful.

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