I can remember the days when Personal Computers were still a novelty and there was intense rivalry amongst businesses to establish their own operating system as the industry standard. One of the areas that tech lovers obsessed about at that time was the extent to which the competing software systems could genuinely claim to ‘multitask’. Today we simply assume that our computer can play a video in one ‘window’ while we draft an email elsewhere on screen. But some early operating systems could only pretend to multitask; what they were in fact doing was rapidly switching between tasks, pausing one in the background, while working on something else.
Some claim that women are better at multitasking than men. Perhaps that’s true, though much of the time, at least at a conscious level, I think we all tend to be ‘task-switching’; shifting our attention between several different things every minute.
Jesus seems to have mastered this multitasking thing so much better than I. He was constantly seeing what the unseen Father was doing and replicating it in the visible world (Jn 5:19). Even as he was speaking, he was concurrently listening for the words the Father was speaking within him (Jn 14:10).
He was consciously inhabiting two worlds.
His intimacy with his Father was such that he fluently straddled the seen and the unseen realms.
Master, teach me to live more like this. I confess I often struggle to keep my attention focussed even on the single thing before me, still less manage to hold this thing – and hold myself – consciously in your presence at the same time.
The physical realm that I can see, hear and touch holds such a dominant grip on my attention that my sensitivity to the spiritual realm gets easily drowned out. I miss your voice, Father; I fail to notice what you are doing.
So train me, Spirit. Coach me. Teach me to “fix my gaze on the things that cannot be seen” – but which are, in truth, more real, and which last forever (2 Cor 4:18). And as you sensitize me to perceive more readily what cannot be physically seen, help me express and embody this, for your honour, within these shadowlands.
Even if I have to settle for task switching.