I’ve been feeling the call to write a blog on the topic of distraction in our lives as Christians but, ironically, until now I’ve been too DISTRACTED to actually sit down and write it!
So, here I am, 12:19 on Tuesday morning (yes I should be sleeping) trying to write out the thoughts gripping what’s left of my brain at this time in the morning.
Why do we get so distracted? What is distraction exactly? According to Webster, distraction is something that, “divides the attention, or prevents concentration.” We can get an even better picture of its characteristics when we contrast distraction with its antipode focus.
“Focus” is “to concentrate; to focus one’s thoughts” (Dictionary.com,2015)
Distraction hinders our concentration, specifically, our concentration on God and His priorities. It really is all a battle for the mind. Martha had a bad case of distraction when Jesus came to visit. In Luke 10:38- 41, we are introduced to two very different sisters which Jesus and His disciples decide to spend some time with.
“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman
named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s
feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations
that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left
me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (NIV)
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it and
It will not be taken away from her.” (NLT)
After they arrive, Martha goes about getting supper ready while Mary, enamored by Jesus, wants nothing more than to just sit at His feet and listen to Him. Martha eventually gets tired of this and makes a request of Jesus to tell Mary to get herself into the kitchen and start helping! Martha often gets picked on for her role in this story but let’s give her some credit here! She opened her home to Jesus (that’s more than a lot of us do!) and she wanted to make Him something really good even if it took a lot of hard work on her part (that’s servanthood if I ever saw it!). Jesus did not answer Martha harshly His response proceeded by, “My dear Martha…” Martha’s main mistake was just getting caught up in serving and doing stuff FOR Jesus, rather than being WITH Him. She was distracted by what she thought needed to be done and so her attention was divided and she could not concentrate on what Jesus was saying.
Would that not accurately describe what many of us experience as a result of being distracted in our everyday lives?
Feels like we cannot concentrate on the Lord or what He may be saying.
Let’s be honest some weeks it feels like we can’t even start a conversation with Him everything is so crazy!
Mary found a way, in the midst of all that needed to be done to still FOCUS on what really mattered – Jesus. She found a way to concentrate on Jesus, her thoughts undivided, her heart captivated.
John 15 can give us insight into what this “one thing” Jesus is talking about looks like except this time the bible terms it “abiding”.
“Abide in Me and I in You…”John 15:4
A rounding out of bible translations can give us a better understanding of what this term means;
“REMAIN in Me” NIV
“DWELL in Me” AMP
“LIVE in Me” AMP/MSG
“STAY with Me” Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“CONTINUE in Me” Weymouth New Testament
Most of us cannot physically stay in a devotional type setting all day every day. The secret to this “abiding”, however, is not only for monks or those with a lifestyle secluded from daily activities. The lesson to be learned is how to, like Mary, be in the middle of busyness yet not be distracted by it like Martha was. Supper needed to be prepared, so do ours. Work needed to be done, we need to work. School, church, extra-curricular activities all not wrong in themselves. It’s only when they take over and divide our attention from our Savior they become a problem.
I recently heard a powerful message on abiding by one of our Associate Pastors in which she highlighted the fact that Jesus says the word “abide” ten times throughout this passage in John 15. As branches, we must stay connected to the Vine and this is something we will have to fight for. We have to learn to take frequent “check stops” throughout our day, whether through prayer, reading a bit of The Bible, worship etc. to ensure we are still connected. I like the Message's version "Live in Me". We continue to live life, but we do it differently. We do life from a position within Jesus. When we connect daily with the Lord we position ourselves within Him, wrapped up in Him. The eyes of our heart become awakened to all that He knows and wants for us on this earth and our thoughts begin to reflect His. During our devoted time to Him, we are filled with His Spirit, His wisdom and His way of doing things. In our bible reading His word, remains in us and outworks its principles in our lives.
We do life with Jesus and His kingdom becomes more our focus. We focus our thoughts above (Phil.4:8) and set aside time to concentrate on the Lord and His word.
In doing this we will be able to do what is written in Prov.4:25;
“Keep your eyes straight ahead;
Ignore all sideshow
The more focused time we devote to the Lord the more fruit of His kingdom we will see in our lives. As we “pit stop” during the day to sit at the feet of Jesus and focus our eyes on Him, we will ensure the fruit of His Spirit within us continues to grow. Fruit that we so desperately need to face and overcome every distraction that comes our way.
Take time to focus on Him today. Look into the face of the One who never turns away from you and feed on all that He has for you.