Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, Matthew 6:28
My daughter Shannon left Sunday morning for her last band camp. As she was busy packing I realized our last child was beginning her senior year and this trip was sort of like the “first last.”
As she tossed her bag in with all the others she didn’t realize it contained a series of letters, one for each day of the week she will be at camp. Each letter contains a word for the day with a related scripture verse and a love note from home. Before I wrote the letters, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would send me six words that would guide her as she begins her first senior year event.
The first word was “observe.”
When was the last time you really observed the world around you? The thing about observing is that it requires no speaking, just intent looking, watching, discovering, and studying.
Most of us are in too much of a hurry to truly observe. We often sum things up based on what we think we see instead taking the time to be still and see things accurately and without judgment.
Children are some of the best observers in the world. I remember when Shannon was a little girl she found slugs the most fascinating thing ever. She would just sit and stare in awe as they took forever to cross the sidewalk and then squeal in delight as she would notice the “rainbow trail” they would leave behind.
Kids will sit forever and watch bugs and rabbits or birds like they hold the secrets of the world. Maybe they do…
When I prayed about the words for Shannon’s letters I promised to take whatever words the Holy Spirit popped in to my head without doubt and I’d use them in the exact order He sent them.
I’m not gonna lie: when “observe” was the first word that came, I hesitated and thought, "Umm…Holy Spirit are you sure you understood what I meant here?" Observe isn’t really a word I was going for; it didn’t seem very inspirational to me but I lived up to my end of the bargain.
After the bus pulled away yesterday it began to make sense. I remembered my curly headed little girl watching slugs and realized that unless we observe with that same intention we’re going to miss a lot. Not much in life seems to surprise us anymore and I think it’s because we are busy predicting instead of observing. I think maybe we take things for granted because we don’t observe how they really got there in the first place.
Perhaps the greatest fruits of observing are respect and understanding. I’m sure there have been times I would have had a greater understanding of someone or something if I had just quieted my words and my mind and taken a good look at all the tiny pieces and how they fit together.
Who knows…if we become better observers we might have a front row seat to the wonder and awe of the Father and a much clearer understanding of the things he’s asking us to be a part of. It sounds too simple doesn’t it? Who would ever imagine great knowledge and understanding could come from just sitting still and watching the people and things around us carefully and without judgment.
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see what I learn.
A Seed To Plant: Your assignment is a two-parter today! Carve out 30 minutes from this week and spend 15 minutes of it observing people. Look for the things God made unique about them and look for behaviors that demonstrate Christ’s presence. Spend the other 15 minutes outside just carefully observing God’s creation. Look at the ground, the sky the trees even the tiny vein structure on the back of a leaf or a blade of grass. Train yourself to observe with the enthusiasm and intention of a child.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2014, Sheri Wohlfert
About the Author
Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to look at the simple ways we can all find God doing amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.