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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

You know the saying -- "Out of sight, out of mind." If you don't see it, you likely don't think about it.

I live much of my life out of sight. I try to be constantly aware of people around me and anticipate them. I'm not very likely that guy you see walking down the sidewalk engrossed in a phone and oblivious to everyone else. No, I'd be the one stepping all the way off the sidewalk (which I've actually done) to avoid being in their way. I'll see that the lane next to me is going away and the car next to me needs to be somewhere, so I'll get out of their way in advance and let them go on. If I'm walking toward an intersection, I often stop way before I get to it to allow the car waiting there to proceed before me. That is, much of what I do in my life is intended as a courtesy that, as a side effect, causes me to remain invisible. I try to be kind and courteous and considerate, but most of that is simply making sure they're not inconvenienced. As a result, you can be fairly certain that I'm mostly unnoticed. No one notices the collision that never happened, the road rage that never occurred, that kind of thing.

As it turns out, I'm a poor example of this. The best example is God. I know that sounds odd, but think about it. Scripture says that God "works all things according to the counsel of His will." (Eph 2:11) So, when you're driving down the road in a hurry and that light ahead unpleasantly turns red, you might see it as a random affront to your forward progress, but what you won't likely think is that it was God keeping you from being in an intersection down the road (literally) where some bad driver would have been that would have hit you. The "good deed" gone unnoticed. Because we don't notice the things that never occurred. Yet God does this all the time. There are injuries and illnesses you don't get because God prevents them, bad jobs or bad relationships you never enter because God prevents them, or all sorts of things like that.

What's my point? My point is that we are, by nature (Rom 1:21), often ungrateful children. We might thank God for "good" things (meaning pleasant) that He does for us. Often we just take them for granted. We don't likely recognize the everyday blessings we have -- drinkable water, a roof over our heads, a job, that kind of thing -- although these are provided by God (Matt 5:45). We are surely ungrateful for the "bad" (meaning unpleasant) things God brings our way -- sickness, loss, etc. -- even though we are promised that He uses those, too, for our good (Rom 8:28-29; James 1:2-4; etc.). And I'm fairly certain that we almost never thank God for all that He does that we never see. Because, "out of sight, out of mind". We just don't recognize those at all.

We should. We should at least acknowledge that they exist and be grateful to the God who manages all that for us.

Perhaps that's why we are commanded, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess 5:18) To accomplish that in a being (like me and you) so unaccustomed to gratitude, it will probably take a lot of awareness and practice. What we are hoping for in this case is "out of sight; still on my mind ... thank you, Lord."

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