A few months ago I was going with my mom to the doctor, and I was the designated driver for the morning. I picked her up, put the address into my GPS, and started driving. We chatted the entire drive, just catching up, and being thankful we both live close to our jobs, because a morning commute is no joke. It’s no wonder so many people are grouchy at work! I took a right turn and found myself in a school drop-off line. With the medical facility on the other side of the school parking lot, I wondered how many people in this line were like me, just trying to get through it to where they actually needed to go. As I passed the school, I realized something was wrong. We were sitting in the dead end of the school parking lot. My GPS told me we had arrived, and despite my best efforts to get us where we were going, we were now late and lost.

I intended to get my mom to the doctor on time, and I even followed those directions to a T. None of this mattered, because I did not pay attention to the address I was putting into my GPS. I was only half paying attention to what my mom spelled out for me and as the suggested locations popped up, I clearly clicked something and off we went to the parking lot of a private school somewhere in Garland. We got a lot of strange looks as we turned around and maneuvered our way out of the lot without ever letting a kid out of the car. I should have been the stress-free part of the trip to the doctor. I had great intentions, but I did not have great attention.

It’s why we miss scheduled appointments. I had the date wrong. It’s why we forget people’s names after we meet them for the first time. What was it again? I am horrible at names. It’s why I can never remember to leave money for the lawn guy every other Monday. Is he coming today, or was that last week? We don’t pay attention. We miss things, make wrong turns, write things down wrong, hear partial statements and leave clean laundry in the machine for four days. Attention determines whether or not we end up where we thought we were headed, or if we veer off the path without noticing.

Luckily, my lawn guy likes $80 once a month as much as he does $40 every other Monday. Unfortunately, not everything is as flexible as my lawn guy. I have found this to be true with God’s plan for my life. He has given me a ton of options, unlimited second chances and new mercies every morning, but I start to build my house on sand because I wasn’t paying attention. Guess what: My house is now on sand. Because the direction he sets for us is the direction, and the attention I give that direction is what actually determines if I arrive or not. In Matthew 7, as Jesus talks about building a house on solid foundation, we can infer the following:

Wise people check their building materials, the people helping them build, the desired completion date, the progress being made. If we build without paying attention, how will we know what we will end up with? Well, we won’t. And that is just dumb. Following Jesus is a total life commitment. It requires not only our hearts, but our minds — our attention. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes open Jesus because is the perfecter of our faith. We set our attention on him, follow his direction, and he makes things perfect. Let’s not be dumb! Let’s pay attention and let Jesus make things perfect.