Distracted: Having one's thoughts or attention drawn away
Last night at Bible study the question was posed, "what is it that gets in the way of you faithfully walking with God?" There were a lot of answers in regards to sin, temptation, fear, and other negative values. After giving it some thought I realized, at least for me, that distractions are likely my biggest obstacle in faithfully walking with God. They're my biggest obstacle in a lot of things.
You see, distractions can be positive or negative in influence. ANYTHING that takes us away from the path God has called us to is a distraction. It could be something unfruitful, like going to a party we know we shouldn't be at. But it could also be stepping up at church to fill a much needed empty spot or skipping a family event for a church event.
Huh? How can filling a church position be a distraction from God's calling on my life when it's doing His work? Good question! Let's say, God has called me to be on the worship team but because I am fearful of being in front of people, I instead decide to fill the nursery position to justify why I can't join the worship team. I am distracted from the path God has called me to. Not only that, but I am also taking away the nursery position from the person God has called to it. Our choices to sway away from God's calling not only impact us but those around us as well.
Does that mean God can't use me in the nursery? Of course not! God can use us anywhere! BUT, it does mean we are missing the calling & purpose He has for our lives.
What are some other distractions that could keep us from following God?
Life Struggles: It's easy to have faith when things are good. But what about when they are not so good? We often get discouraged when our plans are disrupted with things beyond (or maybe not) our control. We must remember that God's plans our always greater than our plans! There will be things that happen that we may not understand. Some we may eventually understand. And some we may never understand. BUT, if we trust God and know that He is working in the background on our behalf, we can have peace in knowing things will work out in the end. Perhaps not quite as expected, but that's okay because we know whatever it is, God's got it!
Work: Why do we work? Is our work time in balance with everything else in our lives? Do we focus too much on money? Toys? Luxury Houses and fancy cars? What are we working for? Who are we working for? Ourselves? Family? Our boss? Do we use our time at work to pour into the lives of those who cross our paths? Do our families know they are loved and cherished and the reason we work is to provide for them? Or do they despise our work because it takes away more time than it should? Work has it's place. But it should not be a distraction from the path God has called you to.
Entertainment: Ooooooo... Yes, I went there. In my opinion, the world may be going to hell in a hand-basket at the sake of entertainment (says the girl currently working in the entertainment industry). TV, film, social media... Cell phones, laptops, tablets... They are nearly everywhere! There are TV's in restaurant bathrooms and cell phones in hands at dinner tables... Many of us are not having family chatter at dinner anymore. Instead we are sharing the biggest thing to hit social media... If we are sharing at all. We like to be entertained, wherever we are. And it's easy to be pulled away from the path God has for us when we are more focused on being entertained than reading the Word, praying for each other, getting involved in community outreach, or whatever it is God has called us to. I'll admit, this one has been a struggle for me. Somehow it's easier for me to find time to watch a two-hour rom-com or action flick than to take 30 minutes to study God's Word... Ouch. The struggle is real. But it's time I get back on track!
Friends & Family: Our friends and family can be a big part of external influences in the way we live our lives. Sometimes we place too much value on their thoughts, opinions, and desires for us. I'm here to tell you, we are here to please a party of one. That is God. If He is pleased with us, everything else will work itself out. We must place His desires for us at the top of our priority list, not the expectations of our friends and family. Whatever their struggle is, God's got it! We shouldn't allow the feelings and demands of others take control of our walk with God.
Enemies: How much time do we focus on our enemies? Are we allowing them to live rent free in our heads? Why do we allow them to absorb so much of our precious time to focus on everything they did/are doing wrong? Can we change them? No. Do we know who can? Yes. God can. But they have to want it too. Instead of focusing on and picking apart all the negative things people have done to us, over and over again in our minds, we can choose to pray for them and move on. Give it to God and let it go. Staying bitter will steal your peace and likely affect all your relationships.
Personal Mistakes and Failures: This one is hard. Sometimes when we mess up, it may feel like we've made the biggest mistake of our lives and will never be forgiven. It's important that we ask forgiveness and learn from our mistakes and failures, then keep moving forward. It's just as important to allow others room to learn from their mistakes and failures and then move on. Maybe they "learned their lesson"... Maybe they didn't. We are not their judge and it is not our responsibility to make sure they learn their lesson. We've got to give it to God and let it go. Then we can get back to focusing on getting us right with God. Once we ask forgiveness for our mistakes, it's important to try and avoid repeating what it was we did wrong. However, it's not healthy to continually remind ourselves of all our mess ups. God has forgiven us. We should forgive us. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit. Condemnation comes from the enemy. We are not meant to live in bondage, tied to our sins, mistakes, and failures. Focusing on the should-haves will get us no where. And it may hold us back from being where we need to be in this thing called life.
The Past: Can we change it? No. Can we learn from it? Yes. The past may influence us but it does not control us. The past is important in understanding who we are and why we do the things we do. But it shouldn't be a place we go and stay for very long. The past has shaped who we presently are and it may warrant a short visit every now and then. But leave the past in the past. It's not going anywhere. It will always be there. If we live in it, we may miss out on all the adventures available to us in the present.
The Future: Can we control it? Nope. Do we think we can? Sometimes. The future is an unknown place. Every decision we make creates a ripple effect that could impact the lives of those around us for many generations to come. We want to consider those effects, but the future also isn't a place we should go and stay for very long. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. We cannot be 100% sure how our decisions will impact the future. What we can do is, focus on today and simply choose to do the next right thing. We can pray and ask God for wisdom and direction. We can trust in Him and His timing. We can take each moment, one day at a time, one step at a time, and one breath at a time. We don't have to have it all figured out! God already does! And it can be easy to get discouraged when our five year, ten year, fifty year plan doesn't pan out according to our plans if we do not trust that God knows what He is doing.
Distractions happen. We can all get derailed if we don't stay focused on the right things.
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
Do you have other things that distract you from walking faithfully with God? Leave me a comment below!