Distractions

“You were my focuser,” my mother reflected as we sat at the kitchen table. She spoke in past tense perhaps as one recalling earlier days when her brood lived under one roof, or maybe with only weeks left to live, she was viewing life retrospectively as one who had reached its end. Whether a focuser or not had never occurred to me, but I accepted the perspective only a mother could know, albeit with a twist of irony, for I am also fairly adept at becoming distracted. It is a broadly shared trait; consider Martha, for instance. Hosting Jesus in her home, she was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made,”1 while her sister Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”2 Her hot-button duly pushed, the miffed Martha elevated her complaint to her Messiah-guest. “Martha, Martha,” Jesus gently replied, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”3 Then came the last thing a tattling sibling might want to hear: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”4

We would intellectually agree it is better to sit before Jesus and listen to Him than to consume ourselves entirely with the self-imposing dictates of the day. In actuality, though, we naturally succumb to the opposite, filling our time with lesser activities, many of which are unimportant and ultimately unsatisfying. We all have them, and it helps to name them, so what keeps you from talking and listening to Him who “has the words of eternal life”?5 Are we, like David, “surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy”—those who threaten us in some way?6 Are we diverted by “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things”?7 Do we consume today, worrying about tomorrow—what will eat, drink or wear?8 Or perhaps for you it is a matter of how you schedule, filling the calendar first with the temporal and leaving little room for the eternal.

To the Philippian believers, Paul wrote, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”9 Isn’t this our focal point, where we are headed? Isn’t this what matters, and doesn’t it prioritize our day? It was for the apostle a clear future vision that charted his daily life: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”10 There is no higher purpose in life than to draw near to God—speaking in prayer and listening through His Word—and to live this life undistracted and aligned with His Kingdom purposes. It starts anew each day.

Father, strengthen me in your Spirit to resist distractions, and draw me close to you. Grace me, then, to rest in you as I discern and pursue the things I must do today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

1 Luke 10:40
2 Luke 10:39
3 Luke 10:41, 42
4 Luke 10:42
5 John 6:69
6 Psalm 55:2 NASB
7 Mark 4:19
8 Matthew 6:25
9 Philippians 3:20
10 Philippians 3:13, 14

4 thoughts on “Distractions

  1. Paul – a powerful word today…and just what I needed. Thanks for your faithfulness in posting these messages weekly. God bless you! JRN

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  2. Your comments on focusing reminded me of Luther’s comments on prayer and his dog. It is such a vivid illustration. Thank you for your weekly blog. I often find it timely.

    ‘When Luther’s puppy [n. 116, Luther’s dog Tölpel is mentioned again and again in the Table Talk.] happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, he [Martin Luther] said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.
    Luther’s Works, Volume 54, Table Talk (Philadelphia: 1967), pp. 37, 38. May 18, 1532

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