Life is wonderful! Sure, there’s tons of stuff to do, both in work and play, but we can manage our time effectively, and we have all the time in the world to do them, don’t we? After all, we can focus on our goals without falling for distractions, right?
There’s just so much to do, isn’t there? So much stuff that may not necessarily be what we should be doing. From doing work online and ending up chatting with friends, procrastinating on homework to watch the latest episode of our favorite TV show, trying to study in a loud coffee house; we've all been there. Yeah, we get distracted from our work. Yeah, we get distracted from doing things we love. Yeah, Facebook or Youtube are wonderful distractions from whatever we think want to do on the computer in the first place. Everyone, including me, has felt annoyed at losing time on our work over our little distractions.
But wait, it's not just our work or play we lose time on when we get distracted. Have you ever considered the impact our many distractions have on our spiritual life?
Let’s face it. It’s easy, tragically easy, to get distracted from God. After all, God’s always patient, is He? God doesn’t have deadlines (Except for that final dead...line). God doesn’t show up and demand that you spend more time with him. When we don’t consciously make time to fit in God, other, more urgent, more important, more current objects just crowd God out of the schedule. We work and focus on our duties and assignments, and before we know it, a week, a month, two months have gone by without us spending any personal time with God!
As Christians, we should know the joy of being in God's presence. We should want to talk to Him and we want it to be amazing and uplifting, but what happens if we start being distracted by things more current? More rewarding? A guy I knew once couldn’t stop checking his phone, even when doing his devotions. How much do you think he got out of his devotions when he was finished? When we allow ourselves to be distracted, when we don’t help ourselves to focus on God, when we open ourselves to instant gratification, is it any surprise if our devotions and prayer life begin to slide?
We are busy people, yes. We all have duties. Maybe you work part-time or have already started working full-time or have taken up more extracurricular activities or even have gotten more involved in various church ministries. Even as summer rolls on, a lot of you are probably already thinking about college, or the next school semester and are preparing for that next phase in life. I repeat, among all those duties, it’s really, really easy to put God aside. With our time spent on countless other important things, do we even notice that we've forgotten to spend quality time with Him?
I’m not talking about going to church on Sundays, I’m not saying we don’t serve God in church. Even if we do all that, ironic as it may seem, we may still be neglecting God! In the past year I've been more active in church activities than ever, and yet if I'm not careful I can still find myself far from God in no time! We can read the Bible every day. We can say prayers over our meals every day. But how much of is it just going through the motions and how often are we thinking of the next item on our schedule already? How much of the meaning has been stolen by our many, many distractions?
There are plenty of examples of people in the Bible who got distracted and suffered for it. Do you remember the man who wanted to bury his father before following Jesus? (Matthew 8:21-22). Jesus rebuked him, reminding him that sometimes our ‘duties’ might well be distractions in disguise that hold us back from following Him . Other examples of distraction include Samson, who was tempted by a woman and lost his Godly strength (Judges 16:4-22). Solomon also let his foreign wives lead him astray, and he failed to follow God (1 Kings 11:1-6). Distractions come in all forms, and we must be careful to recognize what they're doing!
Bearing this in mind, just how do we not get distracted and focus on God?
Have you ever seen period films of the Victorian era, or of any era before automobiles? Most of the carriages then or wagons were horse-drawn. Now most horses get as easily distracted as any other animal, how do the owners make sure the horses look straight ahead? Perhaps, in watching those documentaries or films, you’ve seen those black covers around the horse’s eyes. Those little flaps are called blinkers, and they prevent the horses from seeing behind and beside them, forcing them to only look ahead. This trains the horse to not be scared or distracted by any incoming traffic and to focus and trust their owner's voice.
What I think we should take away from that is the ability to narrow our focus. In our case, remove all distractions. It’s simple to silence your phone for fifteen minutes while you read the Bible, right? Some people even need to check their phone in a church service! We need to consciously focus, and that means making sure there is nothing to distract us from our time with Him. Identify your distractions.
As the Bible says in Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” To those with many duties and a busy life, to those who might simply feel they don’t have enough hours in the day for their duties and God, be reminded of His promise in Isaiah 40:31. "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
To close out this letter, let me share with you one of my favorite hymns, which remains really relevant to me today and to this letter.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."
So open your eyes. Put God first. Identify your distractions and remove them from your time with Him. Enjoy that uninterrupted moment studying His Word or just talking to Him without distractions.
Celeste Tan (19) is a staff writer at Changing Lives Ministry.