I’ve been distracted. I can’t lie; my mind has been so busy wandering over the hills and valleys I had to send out a search party for it. When I get distracted, I lose focus on what I’m supposed to be reaching for. Sometimes, I get so lost in my own thoughts I forget that I have already chosen a path to take. It takes a shaking to get me to look up again and remember where I’m supposed to be looking. Have you ever noticed how figure skaters snap their head to the same position over and over when they spin? They keep focused on the point so they don’t lose their balance or their bearings. That’s what I need sometimes – a snap back so I can focus on the direction God is leading.
The distractions don’t all have to be the same type; what kind of devil would he be if he only had one move in his playbook? I read The Screwtape Letters years ago, I even saw the play. The most terrible part about the book is how the older devil tells his demon protege how easy it is to pull someone away from their calling. Devastating, earth-shattering problems aren’t the ones that work the best; it’s the little things – the distractions which work far better.
It must be a lesson God wants to teach me really well because I’m hearing it on all sides. I hear it at church; I’m hearing it at home; I’m even hearing it at OT. I literally have to practice being able to complete a task with distractions – a call, a new task, a hiccup in the plan. I have such a hard time remembering what I’m supposed to do next, I have to repeat it over and over until it’s done if I can’t look at my list. Throw in a few distractions and, well, let’s just say that part still needs a lot of work. The part that struck me the hardest about today’s sermon was how anger plays a role in distracting you.
I get anger.
I had a bad temper as a child. It took a lot of hard knocks to break me from saying or doing everything that came to mind when I was angry. My fuse is longer now – much longer. The problem is that once it’s finally reached the explosion point, the fury lasts far too long. I don’t have time to be angry. That anger has been a distraction. I don’t even have time to kick myself and be angry at me for being angry. I need to move forward. I have to press on. So when I’m frustrated that my brain isn’t healing as quickly as I want it to and it seems every time I take a step forward, I take two back; and, I’m tempted to be angry at the young man who drove drunk and hit me -I can’t. I need to let it go and move on. The distractions prevent you from reaching your goal.
My mother was a genius for making things fun. For my birthday parties, we could never afford to buy a piñata so we would make them. We would sit on the floor, piles of candy between us, balloons in hand. One of us would pull the opening of the balloon apart as far as we could while the other stuffed them full of candy. It was a tricky business – you wanted enough to make the effort worthwhile, but not so much that it exploded when you blew it up. We’d tie a knot in the top and hang them from the nail over the living room entryway and the kids would line up on the day of the party and try to break the balloon. You could always tell which kids were distracted by trying to choose which candy they wanted and the ones who were focused on getting it. One has a few pieces and the other had a bag full. Distractions can look like opportunities too. But, what are you looking at other opportunities for if you’ve already made your choice? It just takes away from your ability to act.
I suppose some of the problems stem from forgetting who you are. When you remember who you are, and you know where you want to go, what you want, and who you want to follow – you are so focused that you don’t have time to get distracted. I don’t want to be like the church in Revelations 2, forgetting their first love. Rather, I want to make sure, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
So, as the pastor called for this morning, there can be “no more distractions;” there’s no time to look back. God has guided and protected me through terrible, terrifying, and turbulent times throughout my life. If I truly trust Him to be my guide, it’s time to set my eyes on the future, however scary it may be.