Sssssh! Watch out! Wake up! Get with it! Shape up! Listen! How many of these warning phrases that call for your attention have you used or heard? I suspect most, if not all of us, have heard or used these phrases or ones that are similar. Sometimes we just need to get someone’s attention. We need to shake someone out of a comfort zone, or a lazy zone, or a time of inattention, that we use these phrases. Each of us can become, usually without even realizing it, inattentive to what is really important.
Depending on the circumstance and situation, and depending upon what we are doing, these phrases can be life saving. The passenger who alerts (or even wakes up) a distracted or sleepy driver can really be a life saver. The teacher who reminds children in a science lab of the importance of safety can do the same thing. The parent who becomes distracted for even a moment can learn how quickly a child can do something.
It is not simply that we need these reminders from others. It is not simply the case that we can be distracted from events in the outside world, it is that we can even be distracted within ourselves. We can cease to consider the importance of following God in our lives. We can become distracted spiritually. And at these moments of spiritual distraction, we need the wake up call. We need God to come charging into our lives to get us back on the right track.
But the fix for spiritual inattentiveness is quite ironic. Because even though we know that God can come crashing into our lives, often the best way for this to occur is when we can cast aside the distractions that got us into trouble in the first place. As busy as these weeks before Christmas can be, they are not always busy with spiritual things. The world around us, the shopping for gifts, the decorating and the parties can sometimes remove us from the real meaning of the incarnation.