"The goal of prayer is to live all my life and to do all my ministry in the joyful awareness that God is present, right here, right now. This is the prayer-filled life that can sustain and empower a life of ministry." —John Ortberg
Not quite a year ago, I was introduced to the words "NOTICE, ATTEND, WONDER" during the first session of a spiritual direction workshop. We students were encouraged to look for the Holy Spirit within our midst.
We read Exodus 3:1-5. In this passage of scripture, Moses was tending his father-in-law's sheep and had led them out into the desert to Mount Horeb. A bush was on fire, and Moses attention was captured because He noticed that the bush wasn't being consumed. He attended this phenomenon by moving closer to get a better view. Then he wondered, "What's going on here? I can't believe this! Amazing! Why doesn't the bush burn up?"1 And then the scripture says that God saw that Moses had stopped to look, and He began a conversation with him.
Our spiritual director encouraged us to look for the 'burning bushes' in our lives and to prayerfully focus on the words “notice, attend, and wonder” throughout the course of our workshop.
Words have always been an important part of my life. Since I was young, I have been attracted to jewelry which incorporates a word or two in its design and have written in a diary or journal at various times over the years. I even use varying fonts to type out meaningful words, quotes and scripture that is displayed in various places of my home. Reading these words on a regular basis as I go through my day encourages me to stay on the path with Jesus through the twists and turns of my life.
However, when I first heard the words "NOTICE, ATTEND, WONDER," I felt no connection to them. I knew they must be important, so I typed them out in my graphic software with varying sizes and types of fonts. I then placed them on my refrigerator and above my office desk.
As the months went by, I began to realize that these words I was seeing every day on my refrigerator were beginning to take shape in my mind. As I would go about the activities of my day, the word 'notice' would come to mind; the heavier weight of the serif font I had used would cause me to stop and notice my surroundings. Then, I would see in my mind the lighter weight, sans serif font that I used for 'attend', and it would cause me to linger with what I was noticing. And finally, I would see the cursive font I had used for the word 'wonder', leading me to ponder with curiosity what God might be doing in this very moment.
A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God says, "A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality." Just as Moses eyes were opened to the eternal world when he stopped to notice the burning bush, I am finding that each time I notice, attend and wonder, I see God in action inviting me to join Him in what He is doing in any given situation or just showing me his immense love through the persons, places and things in my life.
To capture a moment when I see God working in the reality of His kingdom around me, I have begun a photo journal. I snap a photo with my phone, adding a short caption describing what He did or what I noticed about Him in that moment. Obviously, there is not enough time in a day to snap a photo of everything I see Him doing, but when my attention has been captured in an "aha" moment with him, I record it on camera.
As you go about your days, I invite you to NOTICE, ATTEND, and WONDER! Most of us carry cell phones around with us every day that have a camera built in. Consider using it to capture moments in your life when you notice God's presence with you or those around you in some special way. Consider starting a photo journal as a keepsake of these times of awareness with God.—Cathy Novick
¹The Message Bible, Exodus 3:3.
Cathy Novick assists her husband in pastoral ministry and serves as the Odyssey in Christ webmaster.