Tuesdays with Sarah… Situational Awareness

Earlier in the summer, I wrote a blog about the glory and grace of gray hair. The day after I posted it, I noticed an entire group of retired men in line in front of me at the cafeteria where I work. Once a month or so, a group of retirees come to the office to meet and eat, and they were all in front of me. I’ve seen them several times in the past, but this time I noticed something different. Their gray hair! With my recent ‘gray hair’ post, I was acutely aware of these gray haired gentlemen. And I must say, they looked quite dapper!

This awareness reminded me of my mission trips to Honduras. I’ve been twice, and every time I come back home, I am extremely aware of anyone speaking Spanish around me. I’ll be in Walmart and see a Hispanic family, and I catch myself eavesdropping trying to figure out what they are saying! I’m sure they think this crazy white girl is a creeper!

As the thoughts of ‘awareness’ were brewing in my mind and soul for a next blog post, I came across this article in my Facebook feed. It was about an amateur photographer, Frank Glick, who happened to be aware of his surroundings early one morning as he was driving past Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota on his way to work. Frank was able to get a photo of a majestic eagle perched on the tombstone of a soldier, Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had passed away in 2008 of Parkinson’s. It is an absolute breathtaking picture, and would have never been captured if Frank hadn’t have been aware of his surroundings to snap the picture. See link below for article:

http://www.startribune.com/the-eagle-couldn-t-have-picked-a-better-person/124543223/

Beautiful Eagle on Tombstone

Beautiful Eagle on Tombstone

Ever since Scott and I have been married, there is one lesson that he has always tried to teach me. It is ‘situational awareness’.  I always need to be aware of my surroundings so that I can be safe. He is constantly aware of his physical surroundings. In restaurants, he never sits with his back to the door. He wants to be aware just in case someone comes in with evil intentions. He’s our protector, and he takes that role seriously. And when I am by myself, he wants me to be aware of my surroundings. If I’m at a gas station, I need to always have my head up and aware of anyone that might come my way. Same thing when I’m in a parking deck or parking lot. I need to know my surroundings so some bad guy does not catch me unaware. It even applies to driving. Always being aware of the other drivers around you helps you avoid any accidents. I have heard him say these things to me many, many times over our 16 years together.

Way back in the beginning... when he was first teaching me about situational awareness.  Always watching out for me and keeping me safe!

Way back in the beginning… when he was first teaching me about situational awareness. Always watching out for me and keeping me safe!

About 3 weeks ago, we took our girls to the beach for the very first time. It was a blast! Not that I’m a big beach fan myself (you’ve seen how fair skinned I am. The sun is NOT my friend!), but I absolutely loved how my girls loved it!

But the undertow was pretty strong the 4 days we were there, so we constantly had to remind them to stay in front of our ‘set up’. They would get in that beautiful water and ride waves with their boogie boards, and before they knew it, they would be 50 yards down the beach.   We had to tell them that they needed to stay aware of where we were so that they wouldn’t get lost or get pulled out too far into the ocean.

Our little beach bums!

Our little beach bums!

As I sat there on that beautiful beach, I was once again reminded of this whole ‘situational awareness’ theme that has been washing over my mind and heart all summer. The girls were absolutely unaware of where I was sitting while they were in the middle of saltwater screams and giggles. Thank goodness we were being good parents, staying constantly aware of them! But left to their own, they would have ended up in Mexico Beach and not even known it!

How often can that be said of us? We walk around absolutely unaware of the needs other people have who cross our paths daily. We go about our lives, heads down, looking at our hands and feet, not remembering that God has called us to be His hands and feet.  Or maybe we do remember, but choose to ignore.

But the real issue is this: we wander around this life absolutely oblivious of what God is doing all around us. He’s constantly talking to us and showing us things, and we are clueless. He wants to teach us more about who He is and who we are in Him. He wants to show us ways to reach the lost and share His love. If we were more aware of Him, we’d be more aware of others.

As I have stated many times in previous blog posts, God speaks to me especially through music. The Sunday we came back from the beach, He did it again. Our praise band did a somewhat new song that happens to currently be one my favorites. It’s called ‘Holy Spirit’ and is covered by several different singers. My favorite part is the bridge:

Let us become more aware of Your presence

Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

Did you catch it?? That word ‘aware’? I think God’s trying to tell me something 🙂

At the end of the service, I went up to the altar to pray and mediate more on this whole ‘awareness’ topic that He keeps throwing at me. And as I knelt there with my face down on the altar rail, I heard Him say, “Awareness without action is POINTLESS“. It’s almost as though I could see the words and the word ‘pointless’ was indeed in all caps.

I can be aware of ‘the least of these’ all day long, but if I do nothing to help them, my awareness is pointless. If anything, it’s sin. James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Ouch! That hurts my feelings!

I can be aware of God all day long, but if I do nothing with Him, then my awareness is pointless. You may ask ‘how can you be aware of God, but do nothing with Him?’ How about this scenario: What if you are in a worship service and you feel God’s urging you to go to the altar, but you refuse? You are aware of Him. You feel Him moving in your heart. But you deny Him. You refuse to move because you are afraid He might ask you to do something uncomfortable. Or you are afraid someone might think badly of you. Awareness without action is POINTLESS.

This thought reminded me of the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:

30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

The priest and the Levite both were aware of the beaten Jewish man. But they both did nothing. Their awareness was absolutely pointless because it was not accompanied by action. But the foreigner, the Samaritan, was aware of him, but then was compelled to action. Verse 33 says ‘his heart went out to him’. And he not only helped patch him up, but he took him to a place where he could continue to heal. Awareness accompanied by action is PRICELESS. You can’t put a price on what that Samaritan man did for this poor, beaten Jewish man. And you can’t put a price on putting your faith into action when God asks something of you. But you will indeed be blessed beyond measure. Your cup will runneth over.

So I go back to good old Frank Glick, the amateur photographer. His awareness of the eagle that morning was a magnificent sight for him to behold. But if he had not taken the action to stop, grab his camera, and snap that picture, it would just have been a fleeting moment. But because he took action, he was able to share that glorious moment with the world, and bless the wife of the soldier who had recently lost her husband. With that in mind, I challenge you to keep your head up and your eyes open. Stay aware of your surroundings, and then have the courage to take action.   Snap that picture! Make your life priceless, not pointless.

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