Pay Attention

Last week, something happened to me at one of our fine Seattle neighborhood coffee establishments that has never happened to me before. And it has me thinking.

It was early Saturday about 6 a.m., the standard time for me to return e-mails after my Sabbath on Friday. I happened to look out the window and noticed a man searching for his keys and phone while he placed his coffee cup on the hood of his car. No big deal. But then he sat down in his car and closed the door with his cup still standing all lonely and forlorn. I got up and trotted across the street, anticipating that he might back up. Before he could release his parking brake, I had the cup in my hand and tapped his driver’s window. His “a-ha” moment was marked with the expected embarrassment and profuse gratitude.

30 minutes later, a gentleman plopped a coffee house gift card on my table and said, “I saw what you did helping that man with his coffee cup. I thought that was really cool. Enjoy.” And then he walked out. It was for $100! (just kidding; the card had a $10 value.)

Now, these things do not happen to me. Although, I have sent more than one coffee cup spilling down the back of my car roof, I’m pretty sure I’ve never taken time to notice someone else about to do the same, and certainly haven’t run outside to assist. And no one has ever rewarded me like this for an impromptu act.

In reflection, I’ve been pondering how much I miss when so focused on my to-do list. How about you?

I started thinking about my Lord who had a huge job and held an acute clarity on the job description. Jesus could not be knocked off his mission by Satan, by Peter, by Herod, by the Pharisees, by his mom.

Yet at the same time, he paid attention; he stayed alert. Remember the woman who gave just a penny into the temple treasury offering plate? It didn’t slip from Jesus’ attention. And he pointed it out to others that this was really more of an offering than anyone else that day (Mark 12.43). There was also the time when the Roman centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant and Jesus noticed “This is more faith than I’ve seen in all of Israel, my people!” (Matthew 8:5-10). He noticed.

And he noticed because he knew that the Kingdom of God was very near and beginning to sprout. Later when talking in apocalyptic terms he reminds his follower to “keep alert for you do not know when the time will come” (Matt. 13:33) It’s an invitation to stick to your post and wait expectantly for the master’s return. But isn’t it also an invitation to pay attention to where the kingdom is emerging right now?

God is on the move, people. Now, can I perceive it? Can I notice the forgotten cup and the forgotten one when I see her? Can I see where God’s kingdom is happening right now maybe in the person next to me at Café Ladro, or in the line at Trader Joe’s?
I’m not talking about doing. I’m talking about looking, noticing ripeness when it comes. Let God do something and then listen for the call on how you can get on board. You know not when the time will come, but with eyes open you might just spot it.
Well, that’s it. Right now it’s time for me to get a refill. Look at that line, or is it more than a line?


“Keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” – Jesus, Matthew 13:33