Best of Daily Reflections: What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 1Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
I love to hike. Hiking is my favorite hobby, my favorite form of exercise, and my favorite way to delight in the wonders of God’s creation.
Most of the time, I hike on well-designed and well-maintained trails, whether they’re in the national forests of California or in the Texas Hill Country at the 1900-acre H. E. Butt Foundation Camp, the home of Laity Lodge. But, every now and then I set out into the wilderness, hiking where there is no trail. Such cross-country hiking allows me to see sights enjoyed by very few human eyes. Plus, hiking off the trail virtually guarantees perfect solitude.
But, there are risks involved in hiking, especially the cross-country version. Weather and wild animals can be dangerous. Hikers can get lost. But, perhaps the greatest risk in hiking is injury. It’s not unusual for a hiker to sprain an ankle or to trip and fall. Even relatively minor injuries can ruin a good hike. Thus, when I’m trekking along in the wilderness, I always (or, almost always) pay close attention to where and how I’m walking.
I don’t know if the Apostle Paul was a hiker or not, but he uses the metaphor of paying attention while walking to exhort us how to live. In the NIV, the beginning of verse 15 reads, “Be very careful, then, how you live.” The original language could be rendered more literally, “Look carefully, then, how you are walking.” We have already seen in Ephesians how walking serves as a metaphor for living (2:2, 10; 4:1, 17). In 5:15, we learn that we had better watch our step.
How can we do this, practically speaking? Today, I want to suggest one, down-to-earth way of looking carefully at our lives. Tomorrow, I’ll add a few more thoughts.
When I hike, especially when I’m off the trail, I need to be intentional about watching where I am going. I can’t just cruise along without scanning the ground ahead of me, watching for rocks that could twist my ankle, roots that might trip me, and even snakes that could bite. (For the record, I’ve encountered more rattlesnakes hiking in California than in Texas.) When I hike, I need to look a few feet ahead and make consistent alterations of my course.
So it should be in living. I’m not suggesting we must overthink everything. But I do believe we need to learn to anticipate what’s coming next, to consider our behavior and our words, to weigh our choices in the scales of faith. Too often, I can go through a day without stopping to think. I don’t ask myself, “So, how am I living today? Am I really living for what matters most? Am I living for the Lord today?” Rather, I just rush through the day, jamming it full of activities, reacting to events rather than acting intentionally, faithfully, and prayerfully.
Today, I’m asking the Lord to help me pause and take stock of my life. I want God to help me watch my step as I walk. Perhaps you’d like to join me in this prayer.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you watch carefully how you are living? Why? Or why not? What helps you to do this? What makes it hard for you to pay attention to your life?
PRAYER: Gracious God, your Word urges me to watch carefully how I am living. Sometimes I do this. But often, as you know, Lord, I don’t. I just live, running from one thing to another, reacting rather than acting thoughtfully, doing what’s urgent rather than what’s important. Forgive me, Lord, for all the times I live without thoughtfulness or intentionality.
Today, by your grace, I want to live differently. Help me to look at how I’m living, to think about what I do and say before I do and say it. Most of all, help me to see my life with your eyes. May your Spirit help me to see clearly how I am living and how I might live even more fully in your grace and for your purposes. Amen.
Mark Roberts is the Executive Director of Digital Media and the Theological and Cultural Steward for Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast.
"Upheaval" is something most of us dislike, especially when it applies to our work situation. When the corporate structure changes or we're forced into an uncomfortable position, how do we respond? Maybe we cope by denying anything's wrong and carrying on as if we're not upset. If we're a "Ready, Aim, Fire!" kind of person, we might strike out at people around us before seeking God's wisdom. Either approach can backfire, leaving us in more of a chaotic situation than before. In our series Keep Calm, The High Calling offers stories full of hard-won wisdom and practical ideas for coping with extreme—and often unwanted—changes in the workplace.