Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
-Hebrews 2:1

It snowed.

Well, that much is obvious to anyone who’s glanced out a window in Central Iowa any time in the past 36 hours. What was dull now glistens under a coat of powdery snow.

And with the coming of that snowfall, so too came slippery roads and icy sidewalks. All of a sudden, we all had to pay attention to things that had been familiar and routine. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Leave extra distance to stop before an intersection. Slow down even more to avoid fishtailing around the corner. Keep your eyes on the road. Watch your footing to avoid twisting your ankle on an icy patch of parking lot. You know how it goes.

As frustrating as it can be to find ourselves having to slow down and pay attention to something we thought was old hat, it also provides an opportunity. When we slow down and focus on what we’re doing, we can very often notice things we had previously overlooked. For example, I noticed the slope of the pavement outside a business as I carefully planted my feet to avoid slipping and falling.

This snowy reminder to be attentive can also serve as a call to pay attention to other parts of our lives we take for granted, perhaps even including our discipleship. For those of us who have spent years, even decades, as followers of Jesus, it can be all too easy to mistake going through the motions for meaningful ritual.

So what shall we do? Pay attention! When we pray, or sing, or read the Bible, or listen to a sermon, or receive forgiveness, or take communion, it should never be a humdrum half-hearted habit. Instead, we should pay great attention to these routines of our faith, trusting that in them God is speaking to us– and we want to listen! 

This isn’t to say that you can never get distracted. We all, from time to time, find ourselves paying half attention, or less, to the call to follow Jesus. That’s terribly risky, though. Often, God gets our attention back just like the anti-lock brake system kicking in when we slam the brakes on ice. We end up shaken, but usually stop before disaster. Sometimes, though, we end up in a ditch we could have avoided if we’d just paid greater attention sooner. 

As the snow and ice make us pay attention to driving and walking, let them also be a reminder to pay attention to God. Give yourself plenty of time to hear God’s word. Leave extra distance between yourself and temptation. Slow down even more to avoid a quick word that hurts, Keep your eyes on the cross. Watch where you step to make sure you follow in the path Jesus set before you.

You know how it goes.