There is a huge difference between distractions re-ordering our plans for a day versus allowing our distractions to order our days
When it comes to distractions, I don’t believe it’s a matter of if we’re distracted. Rather, I believe it’s an issue of how much we are distracted, and how we manage our distractions. Distractions come at us in countless ways. In complete transparency, I face a potential distraction every morning, before my feet even hit the floor! You may have already guessed it. Yes, it’s my phone. As I reach to turn off my alarm, it’s so easy to pick it up and let my face unlock the world. After all, I “just” need to check today’s weather, or the traffic, or whatever I may have missed during my few hours of sleep.
Can you relate? I think most of us would agree that the issue isn’t our phones. Many days, I can exercise self-discipline. I’m able to briefly check a few apps and then put it down in favor of pursuing more beneficial activities to start my day. The issue arises when that “brief check” turns into 30 minutes and suddenly my planned time with the Lord has been robbed. I challenge you to look up your daily average amount of screen time. Are you OK with that number?
The Impact of Distractions
No, this is not a blog about how to manage our phones. Distractions, in and of themselves, are not necessarily right or wrong. Some distractions can disturb or trouble us, while others provide a pleasant diversion and entertain us. What is the same for all distractions is that they serve to draw away or divert our minds and attention. As believers, the necessary question to ask is, “Am I allowing distractions to draw me away from how God is calling me to live?”
But before you can honestly answer, you must be able to identify the distractions in your own life. Sometimes they are not only things, like our phones or watching sports. Some of you may be thinking of the humorous saying, “YOU are driving me to distraction!” The things or relationships in our lives (even our social media ones) often become our everyday habits or “norms.” Because of this, we may not even question if they are distractions. Yet when we fail to identify what distracts us, they can easily become thieves, robbing us of what is most valuable.
Identifying Our Personal Distractions
Here are two questions to help you identify the distractions in your life. First, “What or who is taking most of my time each day?” Second, “Is how I’m using that time aligned with God’s Word and His calling on my life, or is it drawing me away?”
Friends, this blog isn’t about time management either. (Though identifying and managing our distractions will help in that area.) If we profess that Jesus is Lord of our lives, it is about ensuring no thing—or no one—is ruling or directing our lives but Him. We may all be familiar with the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7, NIV), but isn’t LIVING it the goal? And living it requires that we regularly assess what may be drawing us away from His call on our lives.
A Willingness to Change?
Some of you reading this will nod in agreement and stop there. I get it. Because when we ask the hard questions of ourselves and answer honestly, it then requires a response. And in all candidness, sometimes we simply do not want to change what we enjoy or find comfortable. So, we only agree in principle, while our everyday lives appear little different from those who don’t seek to follow God.
Will you choose, instead, to “become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15)? I wish I never allowed anything or anyone to distract me from wholeheartedly serving the Lord. But unfortunately, I do. The reality is we ALL do.
Will you join me in humbly asking the Lord if there is anything drawing you away – distracting you – from all He desires for you? Is there a role you are neglecting? Are you pursuing a hobby or activity to the extent that you’re missing opportunities He brings across your path?
Finding Freedom From Distractions
Here’s good news. When Jesus is Lord of our lives, we have the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide us. When we ask, He faithfully shows us how to live so that our lives are not governed by our distractions. AND Galatian’s 5:16 assures us that when we walk by the Spirit, we won’t carry out the desires of the flesh (personal translation). In other words, as we seek to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30, paraphrase), the things that distract us WILL lose their appeal and influence.
Will we still experience some days that are highjacked with distractions? Absolutely! I experienced one of those as I was writing on this topic this week. But there is a HUGE difference between distractions re-ordering our plans for a day versus allowing our distractions to order our days.
Friends, we live in a world that entices us with many things that can disturb or entertain us. Will you purpose to not allow ANY of it to distract and rob you from the best God has for you? James 1:25 says, “But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works, this person will be blessed in what he does” (CSB). Yes, it takes work, but when we are free of the things that draw us away from God’s best, we find “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8, KJV)!