Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I think it is safe to say that the elections last week were a huge distraction. I read more articles on the internet last week than I have ever read in one week. The elections preoccupied my mind, which was not a good thing. I found myself traveling down numerous rabbit trails. It didn’t make for a productive week in many ways.
Recently I finished reading The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. I was fascinated by how looking at life from the other side of the veil can change our perspective. In one of the letters, Screwtape instructed his nephew in how to use distractions to keep his “patient” from focusing on Christ. Screwtape told Wormwood to inflame petty grievances and inflate superficial pleasures. By doing this, he could keep his patient from realizing that he was slipping away from his faith in the Enemy (Christ). I felt that pressure on Sunday, as there were a number of things that distracted me from being focused on worship and the Word.
Screwtape tipped his hand when he unwittingly gave the antidote for dealing with distractions. He told his nephew to keep his patient from realizing that they were distractions. He was to keep his patient off balance by making him think that he was focused on the right things.
The way to deal with distractions is to recognize them for what they are; peripheral issues. Distractions are always secondary to the main point. We cannot avoid them, but we can guard against them draining us of our energy. We need to deal with them, but not allow them to dominate our lives.
The key is to always be alert to Satan’s subtle schemes. 1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Satan is always looking for ways to get us off course. If he can get us to veer by just a degree or two, we are soon way off track. The things he uses may not really be significant, in and of themselves, but if they grab our attention they can blur our spiritual vision. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with distractions.
- Don’t allow circumstances to dictate your thoughts and attitude. We have all experienced it. Things seem to be going along rather well, then someone makes a comment or a minor incident happens and our whole demeanor changes. One of the gifts of the Spirit is self-control. We are not victims to our circumstances. As someone once said, we are not live under our circumstances, but over them.
- Be aware of the areas where you are most easily distracted. All of us have areas in our lives that we might call hot buttons. If these hot buttons are pushed, we are instantly drawn in. We most often think of these hot buttons as negative things, but they could be positive or even neutral things as well. For me, one of those hot buttons is college football. The more aware we are of our hot buttons, the better we are able to manage them well.
- Keep refocusing on what is most important. I know it sounds trite, but we need to work hard to keep the main thing the main thing. Once we are aware of a distraction, we need to adjust out thinking. This needs to happen even as we deal with the distraction. Our reaction should be shaped by the main thing, our commitment to Christ.
- Deal with distractions quickly. Not all distractions are bad or wrong. Often God uses distractions to awaken us to something that He wants us to be aware of. The real problem with distractions is that they are time consuming. If we are not careful, a distraction can eat up huge chunks of time that we really need to be investing elsewhere. Getting upset over something is an example of a negative distraction. In Ephesians 4, Paul instructs to recognize what is going on and deal with it in a timely fashion. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27
Distractions are a part of life. We will never live a life free of them. But we can live in such a way that they do not dominate our lives. Every distraction is an opportunity for us to grow in our faith.