How often do we find ourselves with our face in our phone, talking, texting, scanning social media, distracted from the world around us? People pass by while moments and opportunities come and go without recognition. Our focus and attention is drawn to a tiny screen; everything we need in the palm of our hand. All of this becomes much more apparent and real when we start to notice others in this position, failing to acknowledge life passing by. This false reality that people hone in on is contributed to other’s highlight reels, to filtered photos, and to every other thought someone might post for the world to see. Unfortunately our society has become distracted to say the least. We find more satisfaction and comfort in scrolling down through updates on Facebook rather than acknowledging the people that pass by. The awkwardness of making eye contact with a stranger, the difficulty in a simple hello, the unknown of meeting someone new, and the lack of interest in those around can all by neglected and prevented by only acknowledging what we want to; the world within social media.
Awareness has been heavy on my heart lately, especially being God-aware. Just the other day, Amanda and I listened to a sermon from Judah Smith, which really brought to our attention the importance of contentment. This contentment that he spoke about was being satisfied in God, not comparing to others or striving for more, but thanking God and being one with Him in a harmonious relationship. Satisfied. Content. Full of Joy. Thanksgiving. It made me think, and I wanted to go deeper. God-aware. Recognizing Him in all circumstances and allowing Him to lead in every situation was my prayer. Awareness. I prayed for the ability to see Him in ALL things as well as to see His children, to truly see His children. I prayed for the removal of all anxiety and fear in meeting and approaching new people, to extinguish the awkwardness in making eye contact, and to be completely aware of people I am with and around. There is a lady in town that almost always can be found in the same position, lying in the grass between buildings because she is ostracized from the community. There is an odd looking deformity on her face, a cleft pallet, in which it looks like she does not have a nose, just two holes where her nose is suppose to be. You can see that life has hit her hard, that the lack of love and care from others weighs her down, but she is a fighter. As she lies in the grass she sings to herself and prays for joy. When ever I wave and smile, she waves back and she has the most beautiful smile. Her smile is innocent, her smile is stunning, and her smile is pure. When she smiles she sometimes giggles under her breathe and she turns her face away as if she is afraid of what she looks like. Its almost as if you see a child smiling and laughing while burying his/her head in the mother’s chest, turning away so no one can see. Little does she know how beautiful she is. Her smile is contagious and I cannot help but smile back. You see her and it breaks your heart, the condition she is in, the area, all the factors combined do not look promising, but her joy is infectious and her smile is comforting. I thank God for her, His daughter, and I know that she will be ok. I know that we will be able to help and to bring her hope and to love on her, but I truly want her to know how special she truly is.
Putting the phone aside, shielding the distractions, and focusing on what truly matters, continues to fuel the passion and the flame for Jesus. This continued growth in being completely aware of God at all times compels me to seek Him more and focus my attention on His kingdom here on earth. As we walk the streets and the community of Rukungiri you will find that there are the same people who stay in the same position most every day. You will find that there is one taxi man who finds Amanda quite attractive and calls her the morning sun. You can find Emma, worn down, tired, aching, fighting day to day, but he always finds the strength to greet us and say hello. His feet are torn, His clothes are ripped, his teeth are rotting, but he loves prayer and loves to be prayed for. John is an amazing man of God who is more God-aware than anyone else I know. He literally thanks God for something every other minute of his life. His story is incredible and he loves to seek God, push into God, and call upon God at all times and in every situation. Each and every person we come into contact with is a blessing in disguise and we thank God for the interactions and time we get to spend with each one.
How easy it is and how often I find myself distracted and unaware of my surroundings makes me sad. In Uganda, not once have I seen someone walk by me unaware because the phone was requiring all of his/her attention. Not once have I heard commotion over twitter, Facebook, or any other social media. When I walk the streets or we are traveling, I see a people who interact, who communicate, who are not distracted, yet they are aware. It fires me up, drives me, and challenges me to seek out those in the community that need a simple hello, a smile, a wave, or even a hug. I no longer have a fear a missing out, I am not afraid that there is a message or some newsfeed that I must look at because if I won’t than I will be missing out. No. What is going on back home, the newsfeed, the pictures, the messages can wait. It is about the here and now, the people that I associate with every time I leave the house, the awareness of need around the community that I focus on. Thanking God for His sovereignty and His love in all circumstances and sharing His love with His children is my reality. It is the realness in a face-to-face conversation with the person I am with. My reality lies in being so aware and so conscious of my surrounding that God leads me to every person that may need a simple smile, a wave, or just some time to talk. Pictures of God’s creation and His people are great, encouraging and motivating updates on Facebook are wonderful, but interacting with God’s people and hearing their stories is what drives me. Seeing each person the way God sees them, loving them the way Christ loves them, that is my prayer.
The last verse in Matthew, Matthew 28: 20b states “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” These are some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples and for His people to hear. If this is true, then I pray we acknowledge it. God is with us ALWAYS, so let us be aware of it, thanking Him and rejoicing in His presence. The awareness in Him trickles down to the awareness of His people. Challenge yourself to put aside the distractions, to leave the phone at home, to call upon the Lord to heighten your awareness. You are not going to miss out, do not be afraid. The phone, the Internet, the distraction will always be there, but opportunities and people passing by may need you more than you know. Step out in faith, acknowledging that He is with you always, and walk in awareness; spiritual eyes opened to His kingdom and His people here on earth.