Seneca had a great response: “People say: ‘What good does it do to point out the obvious?’ A great deal of good; for we sometimes know facts without paying attention to them. Advice . . . merely engages the attention and rouses us, and concentrates the memory, and keeps it from losing its grip. We miss much that is set before our eyes.”
Greitens, Eric (2015-03-10). Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (Kindle Locations 305-308). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
I stopped going to Christian conferences for a while back. Not because I believe there is anything morally wrong and completely terrible about going, but because I felt I had heard most of it before. I’ve been walking with Christ since I was four and reading His Word as a regular part of my life since I was 12. Energetic speakers would say things from the stage; people would nod and jots pithy sayings in notebooks; and my friends would leave saying, “That was incredible! I never thought of [insert X] that way!” Outside, I nodded – I didn’t want to be a downer. But, on the inside, I was thinking, “Didn’t he just state the obvious in kind of a creative way?”
Another time I heard a pastor say, “I ask God to give me a nugget that will help me along my way.” He was talking about the expectations people need to have when they listen to a sermon or teaching. I remember thinking, “I don’t want a (chicken) nugget! I want a whole steak!” I walked away from that conversation frustrated and depressed. I grew tired of hearing the same old thing every time I went to church and feeling guilty because I didn’t have a personal epiphany during the message. I appreciated the creativity, delivery, and heart that went into the message, but I just didn’t get anything out of it, because – for the most part – it felt like common sense.
Yet, forgetting common sense is actually quite easy to do. Sometimes we can know the right thing to do, agree that whatever it is needs to be done, and not do anything about it at all. Right now I have a ‘Check Engine’ light on my dash that is driving me nuts. I need to do something about it but doing something is inconvenient and may cost some money. So I cover it up so I don’t see it, hoping it will just go away. Completely irrational, yet completely human. If the light wasn’t there as a constant reminder I would tune out the obvious fact that my car isn’t operating like it is supposed to.
So here is what I’ve learned in this moment of reflection: We need to regularly expose ourselves to ‘common sense’ if only to remind us that we need to do something with the sense we have. We need annoying ‘Check Engine’ lights to call our attention to the obvious so that we will eventually do something about it, hopefully before the tickets and repairs become too costly to bear. We need to delight when people see and hear things for the first time, even when their first may be my thousandth.
Why? So we don’t miss something important.
photo by cheetleys