PAY ATTENTION: Did you ever stop to consider these two words in that order? First, to "pay" means you give something over in order to obtain something different. It has the idea of "transfer". "Attention" has the idea of directing one's mind toward something. So the "transfer" here is one of "mind space" - we are giving our "mind space" to another in order to have what it is they will "fill" that space with. At first that may not seem like much, but if we do this enough, we become filled with the right stuff. If we yield our "mind space" to the wrong stuff - that which is very limiting in its focus and which really has no lasting benefit for us - we find our minds become "cluttered" rather than more "ordered". Maybe this is why God adds the next words - listen to me. The idea of giving one's mind space over to God in order for him to fill it involves some willingness on our parts to make the exchange, but it also requires us to sort out some of the stuff occupying space today which only adds to the clutter! If you have ever had a garage or yard sale, you understand this concept. What probably precipitated the "sale" was the idea of space being cluttered! You got to the point of being fed up with the clutter and just wanted to get it out of the way. Instead of just letting it go, you hold the sale. Why? It is stuff we got attached to - it had some value to us - and probably still does. So, we hope to get a little of that value back by selling it. The problem with this is we don't get what it is we think the "value" really is! I wonder if we do the same thing with God? He gets us to the point where we recognize we have a whole lot of clutter in our minds and then we want to barter with him to have him "give us something of equal value" to replace it! Silly us! The value of clutter is really no longer "valuable" to us!
“Pay attention, my people. Listen to me, nations. Revelation flows from me. My decisions light up the world. My deliverance arrives on the run, my salvation right on time. I’ll bring justice to the peoples. Even faraway islands will look to me and take hope in my saving power. Look up at the skies, ponder the earth under your feet. The skies will fade out like smoke, the earth will wear out like work pants, and the people will die off like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my setting-things-right will never be obsolete. (Isaiah 51:4-6 MSG)
Clutter is really a disorderly heap - another word for "litter". Now, does that make you look at your "mind's clutter" a little differently? It should, because nothing in your mind which is "litter" really has any further value. Maybe this is why God tells us to let go of offenses - they are "litter" taking up space in the place where God wants to go about "transferring" something better for our enjoyment. Perhaps this is why he tells us to get rid of gossip - because all the imagined stuff we create in our minds about another really keep us from seeing them as God sees them. Could it be God wants us to get rid of the "litter" in our lives so he can fill the space with his grace, love, and mercy? If grace was there, we probably wouldn't take offense so easily. If love was there, we probably would guard against the words of gossip.
Back to our passage. God is really telling us to be willing to make the exchange of what it is which holds our focus today in order to have our focus for tomorrow expanded. In other words, if I let go of what doesn't lend value today, I will be open to having something of superior value occupy the space once occupied by only the "litter" of my thoughts and memories. He gives us some other hope here, too. Let's explore:
- Revelation flows from him. Another word for revelation is disclosure. What really happens with all that "litter" in our minds? Isn't it something we rarely "disclose". The opposite of disclosure is openness. I don't know about you, but I want my mind to being open to his teaching, hearing what his voice has to speak, and being attentive to what it is he has to show me. Revelation - disclosure - flows from him! Isn't this good news. Another word for revelation is exposure. This probably scares us a little, but just as when we finally decide to clean out the garage of its "clutter", so it is with our minds and hearts. There might just be some "exposure" of stuff we didn't even know we had kept around all that time!
- God's purpose in revelation is not to do us in or set us to flight. It is to set things in right order. A few year's back, my mother was coming to live with me. During the week's preceding the move, I spent time "decluttering" the various cabinets, closets, and spaces of my home. Do you know how I felt when I had that project done? Awesome! Why? Simply because all the remaining "stuff" mattered and it was in right order. Guess what? My cabinets and closets don't look that way after over four years of being together! It is time for a little "revelation" of the clutter again - in order to get rid of what we don't use and what takes up precious space. Our minds are filled with stuff taking up precious space. Isn't it good to spend some time on a regular basis going through the "space" to ensure it is clutter-free?
- There is something about "paying attention" which never gets old when we are paying attention to the right stuff. If you have ever just had the TV or radio on as "background noise" while you went about doing what it is you were otherwise engaged in, you know what I mean about paying attention to the right stuff. You will be going along, then almost all of a sudden, something catches your attention. You hear something of interest. You have no idea how you got to the point of "paying attention" to this particular broadcast, but something "hooked" you. All the other stuff was just "background" - the thing which caused you to sit up and take notice was the "information exchange" which occurs as a result of paying attention. God's revelation is very similar - it never gets old, but we need to be available to receive it. Just sayin!