The Dangers of Distraction
Matthew 6: 33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Christopher Columbus once said, "By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination." The irony aside, this quote speaks to the heart of a challenge we all face in our walks with God. We all have a chosen destiny, not selected by us but by God. We are all on a journey through this world. A world that God has already explained to us we are no longer a part of:
Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1Peter 2: 11 (NLT)
We are temporary residents and foreigners, or as the NIV says , aliens and strangers. During this journey as strangers we will face many distractions. If we allow the distractions to pull us away from the destination then we become ineffectual for the work God has called us to. There are typical distractions we face and the Bible outlines them for us so that we can learn to resist them better in our pursuit for all God has for us in this life.
The first typical distraction we
face is our surroundings. The things we face every day can serve to distract
us. Peter faced such distraction one day on the
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. Matthew 14: 24-25 (NLT)
The surroundings the disciples faced that early morning were treacherous. They were too far away from land, a strong wind had risen and they were fighting against the heavy waves. Isn't that just like our lives sometimes in this world? We feel so far away from safety and a storm has arisen against us. The waves of the world are crashing around us, swamping the little boat we call our life. But Jesus is always out there in our storm; calmly walking over it towards us. Showing us that what appears treacherous to us presents no threat to a child of God!
Peter asks Jesus to tell him to come to Him. Peter wants to realize that the winds and the waves are meaningless in the presence of almighty God. He recognizes that he cannot do it on his own, so he asks God first to bid him to come to Him. Peter then gets out of the boat, a topic books have been written about, and starts to walk towards Jesus. Peter is doing so much right here. He is solely focused on the Lord. He asks Him to do the impossible because he recognizes His ultimate sovereignty. He sees he can do nothing if God has not instructed him to do so. He puts his faith into practice by stepping out of the boat. So much right. We too can go through this walk doing so much right. We can seek the face and counsel of God in the storms of our lives. We can acknowledge His sovereignty and realize we are nothing without Him. We can face our storms with the full assurances of God only to fall to the distractions of our surroundings; as Peter would do:
But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted. Matthew 14: 30 (NLT)
He knew that God was bigger than the storm he was facing. He knew that God had called him. He knew he was walking on water! But all of it fell away as he saw the strong wind and the waves. He became distracted by his surroundings and took his eyes off of Jesus.
We too will sink in our own circumstances if we choose to focus on them instead of the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Like Peter if we believe the waves crashing down around us instead of Him who walks above them, we too shall sink in this life. This is how Christians can fall into despair or hopelessness. Even though in His presence is fullness of joy we can see believers struggling to see past their waves to find His presence.
Another typical distraction we face is the distraction of what we do not have. The enemy wields this against the children of God all the time. As long as the devil can get you focused on what you do not have, then you cannot appreciate all God has given you. Western Christianity has not helped the cause by continuing to focus on prosperity as if it is something contained in this life. Blessings should not be viewed as something that we desire but rather what we already possess. Take King David. A man after the very heart of God. He wrote the majority of the Psalms and through his lineage Christ would come. David had it all because he followed God correctly. He did not allow distractions to interfere. Even though he had a word that he would be king, he refused to lift his hand against God's anointed. David always put God first:
David said about him: "'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Acts 2: 25
David always saw the Lord before Him. The things of God always came before the things of David and because of that, God was always at his right hand and nothing could shake him. That is how we are supposed to walk too! In the supreme confidence that comes from always seeing God at our right hand. But it starts with putting Him first and one night David was shown something that he did not have and when he looked to his right hand, all he saw was Bathsheba. The first lesson we learn here is found in the first verse of the story:
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2Samuel 11: 1