Paying Attention

By Jerry Ousley

Have you ever wondered where the phrase came from: Paying attention? Of course "paying" means we've had to fork over something in exchange for whatever it is we're paying for and "attention" means that we are focused on something. So I suppose the phrase means that we are giving something in exchange for attention or something like that.

I had an experience recently that brought this phrase home to me in a way that I won't soon forget. I guess I tell too many things on myself and some of you who hear this will think I'm pretty well off my rocker; maybe I am. I was headed to Seymour the other day (that's a town about twenty miles from where I live) and had to stop to get gas. There's a station in the town of Crothersville, about five miles north of Austin, where I like to get my gas. I suppose we've all got our preferences but somehow it just seems to get better mileage and last longer than some of the other places. As long as it isn't more than a penny or two higher I'll stop there. Anyway, I pulled up to the pumps, inserted my debit card and waited for approval. When the digital readout told me to lift the lever and begin pumping I obediently followed the instructions.

About five dollars worth had been rang up on the pump when I realized that I had not lifted the lever for the regular which was $3.06 but had mistakenly lifted the lever from the other end and was pumping in liquid gold at $3.26! My little Neon doesn't need that rich stuff but I was already committed and so I finished filling the tank. I pretended like I had made this mistake intentionally, but folks let me assure you that it isn't my standard practice to buy the most expensive fuel out there. I remember when you could get the premium stuff (then called "Ethel") for only $.35 per gallon and even then I saved the extra five cents and stuck with regular. I do have to admit that my little Neon ran like she had just eaten filet mignon instead of hamburger but I don't want her to get used to that stuff.

The fact of the matter is, had I been paying attention I wouldn't have been paying for the premium I had just pumped into my tank. That let me know real quick what it means to "pay attention." If we don't pay attention then we pay for not paying attention. Get it?

Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." The "You" in the verse is referring to God, so in essence the verse is telling us "God will keep those who are paying attention to Him in perfect peace because they trust in Him." Paying attention to God requires us to pray, worship, and know what He is telling us in His Word. Reading between the lines we can also find that as we pay attention to Him we aren't concentrating on other things so we'll be more apt to do what He's telling us so we don't fall into traps that we will regret later. It keeps us from committing sin, making wrong choices, and doing things we later wish we hadn't. I'd say that's a pretty good formula to keep us in perfect peace even when it seems the world is falling apart around us. We can be sure we're in His will because we trust Him. It may or may not keep us from doing stupid things like pumping the wrong gas but it will keep us in tune with the Master.

Jerry D. Ousley is the Author of three books, "Soul Challenge", "Soul Journey" and "Ordeal." Listen to our daily broadcast Spirit Bread. Find out more by visiting or email us at

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