Is the Devil in the Details? Or is it Someone Else?

“I’m wondering why your truck is sitting here in the left turn lane idling all locked up.” The fresh-faced state patrolman didn’t smile when he said this. Lights flashed from the top of his patrol car as if pointing out my stupidity. I had hopped out of “my truck” (in reality my co-pastor Mike’s) to hang a sign directing people to our churches’ worship gathering and had locked myself out.

“It’s blocking the lane,” he said still not smiling.

I looked at the puffing truck then back at him. Yep. At least it was Sunday morning and the truck was not hindering the hordes from getting to church.

“We’ve called Triple A,” I answered.

So I stood in the median feeling foolish, thinking–for some unknowable reason–of that arcane quote: “For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost.”

Little things make a big difference. Too often when I am doing several things at once and am in a hurry, I don’t pay close enough attention to the little things. Such as the little button that pictured “lock” instead of “unlock.” Such as where I last placed my keys, or wallet, or glasses, or wedding ring, or wife and children. Then I spend eons looking for them.

Since the cop wasn’t very talkative, I asked myself what life would look like if I spent those eons paying attention before instead of after.

Here’s what I heard.

Living spiritually is about paying attention. This is not only stopping to smell the roses. What about the parts of life not so fragrant or obvious? There was a message for me in this day’s foolish frustration. Small things loom large. It may not be the devil who is in the details but rather the very opposite: God’s whisper.

Living spiritually is also about learning what not to give credence to. I locked myself out of Mike’s truck because I gave credence to that voice inside me that said, “hurry, faster.” Most lost relationships, items, or moments in my life are the fruit of listening to false voices that call my attention elsewhere.

Inattentiveness is costly. More than wasting precious time, however, inattentiveness often wastes our very lives. Philosopher and theologian Simone Weil once said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Paying attention to people and events, small and large, to life and God, is a gift of ourselves, and sometimes is a gift to ourselves.

AAA rescued Eugene C. Scott from his inattentiveness and the experience actually helped him pay better attention in worship. Not only that but his congregation got a good, well-deserved laugh. Join him in attending to God sightings and telling your stories here and on “Living Spiritually” at Eugene is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.


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8 responses to “Is the Devil in the Details? Or is it Someone Else?

  1. Great post, Eugene! Despite the craziness of last Sunday, you maintained your composure and stayed attentive to God. It’s an honor to serve with you.

  2. Susan Jones

    Good morning, Eugene. I smiled when reading what you wrote this morning. Yes, it is a good thing to be more attentive, and I appreciate you seeing God in the details. No question I can do better at that.
    HowEVER: I still remember reading an old acquaintance’s, Laurie, funeral service and how her husband mentioning Laurie losing her phone on a frequent basis. I loved it. I remembered that statement far more than anything spiritual he said.
    I lose stuff a lot and hurry to relax a lot. I also enjoy people who do the same, the ADD mentality. They seem fun. Your story was fun. It makes you fun. And, not perfect. Even better.
    A wonderful Wednesday to you.
    Susan Jones

    • Susan:

      I’m glad to bring a smile to your day. Great point about your friend. I too often remember the funny, quirky things about people I love. God is good to create us unique. Thanks for reading. Eugene

  3. Georgie-ann

    For a long time, I’ve had the saying, “Efficiency is the enemy of spirituality.” I can clearly remember the period of time when God was teaching me to slow down, to be aware of (remain in touch with) “my whole self” during ALL activities, not just being peacefully “recollected” during prayer times.

    I think the machines and schedules and clocks and demands, etc., of our modern lives, keep us projected way out ahead of ourselves much of the time. We are constantly running (mentally and actually) to keep up with a life that we have already planned way out in front of us, but miss the fullness of the moments we are in. Our poor over-worked minds get into “overdrive,” taking automatic short cuts, missing those pesky details, while sincerely trying to help us accomplish our “big plans.” We are often asking them (and relying on them) to do too much. We are more than our minds!

    I would definitely agree with you, slowing down is not just for smelling roses, but it will help us find more of ourselves and God alive in us in each moment, more of ourselves to appreciate each breath, more of ourselves to share with each other, and perhaps more of some of God’s plans than our own, as well intentioned as they might be. Over time I have developed “little ways” to remind myself to remain grounded, to pace myself, to be present, to “touch” my world, rather than whiz on through it, leaving everything in a blur just so that I can check something off my to-do list!

    God is Good!

  4. Georgie-ann

    Just came across this:

    “Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more; all good things will be yours.” ~~ Swedish Proverb

    I love the wisdom in old proverbs!,…They’re a reminder, they’re kind, they’re not a judgment, they’re realistic and practical, they understand us, but urge us to become better and not miss out on some of the greater blessings that are possible for us to attain in this life. And they point to deeper underlying Truth which is there for the seeking and the finding.

    Luke 11:9 [ Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking ]
    9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

    God loves us.

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