“You have eyes–can’t you see? You have ears–can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all?” (Mark 8:18)
The average attention span of people in 2000 was a whopping 12 seconds. It then dropped over 30% until it reached just 8.25 seconds in 2015. By embarrassing contrast, the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds!
Jesus asks if we have eyes, ears, and memories. Well, yes. Sort of. Technically. But in our multi-tasking world, filled with social media moments that literally last just seconds at a time, and action movies that switch camera angles every two seconds or less, I’ve been re-habituated. I cannot focus for long. Attentiveness (apart from great intensity or stimulation) is fleeting.
Ever introduced yourself to someone new, and forgotten their name within 30 seconds? Ever find yourself flipping between websites, YouTube videos, or cable channels, mindless of what you’re actually seeing? Or ever tried to memorize Scripture and just given up because it wouldn’t stick immediately?
In Mark 8, Jesus challenges His disciples.
They’re feeling hungry. They’d forgotten to pack some sandwiches and had just one small roll to split between them. They seem rather preoccupied with themselves and their minor predicament. And Jesus questions whether they have really been watching, listening, or taking in anything that He has done.
Jesus had performed miracle after miracle in front of them. In fact, ironically, He had just fed four thousand famished followers with only seven rolls and a couple of fish. The day before! And now the disciples are irritated with each other because somebody left the lunch-bags on the table at home.
How quickly they forgot!
Not much has changed. God does something re-assuring, peace-giving, soul-restoring, transforming, powerful, even miraculous, and we celebrate. But soon, even the next day, we’re back to worry and distraction.
Attentiveness to Christ is one thing; memory is another. We need both in the journey of faith, and neither comes easily in this digitally distracted age.
I’d like to see and hear Christ more clearly today, but perhaps I’ll see Him best today if I also remember yesterday. We face today’s challenges with greatest courage when we recall yesterday’s assurances. Jesus has never abandoned or forsaken us. When we turn to Him, His grace has always been sufficient to sustain us through fear and trial.
As we see Him clearly in the rear-view mirror we’ll see Him best through the windshield in front of us.
Eyes that truly see. Ears that truly hear. Minds that truly recall. That’ll lift our souls on this 10th day of Lent. Take a moment right now to be still, to be attentive, and to remember.