8 1/2 x 11

We sat nearly in the front row of our church yesterday, which is pretty strange with a church our size. The close vantage gave us a sneak peek into what would happen next because we could see the singers’ monitors. But it also gave me a clear view of a man directly across the auditorium who spent nearly the entire sermon with a passel of 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper close to his face.

It looked like he was hiding behind them.

But mostly it looked like he was reading them, pouring over those pages, as if he were studying for an important exam.

It bothered me, seeing someone so blatantly flaunt their pages while our pastor talked about Jesus.

Then I wondered if I had sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 that kept me from Jesus. What is it that I put in front of my face so I don’t see Jesus? Or others? Or life? What grabs my attention more than sermons or the Bible or deep relationships?

My 8 1/2 x 11 is busyness and flurry. I let the urgent things of this life crowd themselves chaotically on marginless pieces of paper, then give those my full attention. I turn the page sideways just to make sure I read the very last bit. Behind those pages, life happens. Kids need me. Jesus whispers to me. Prayers I should be praying fly out of my head instead of into God’s heart.

I’m like that man.

I read my pages.

And I miss out on life.

Jesus, give us all the courage we need to set aside our 8 1/2 x 11s. Help us forsake busyness for contentment. Make us alive in each moment. Touch us deeply with Your multi-dimensional presence so that thin one-dimensional stress has no sway over our frazzled hearts. Be near. Oh yes, be near.

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