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The War with Distractions

There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playng in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.” 

Distractions are big problem in our lives and the very basis for them is to confuse us and get us off track.  Distraction – a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.  In the movie Up, the old man and the kid meet a lovable talking dog named Dug.  It doesn’t take long to see that Dug cannot keep his attention on what is going on, especially when he thinks he sees a squirrel.  It’s comical to see Dug running ahead and carrying on a perfectly good conversation and then in the middle of everything turn his head, and say “Squirrel”, and then run off.  Of course, you know why we laugh so much at Dug….We are just like him to some degree.  It’s like we are saying “I’m totally committed, but I am keeping my options open.”  It’s ok to keep your options open, but not when it keeps you from focusing on what God wants you to do.  Focus is an amazing thing and very hard to keep when there are so many things fighting against it.  The temptation to jump from one thing to the other is ever present and strong.  Those who are able to keep focus and not get distracted are having to fight something that is almost as constant and strong as gravity itself.  Years ago I felt the need to expand the ministry of the Lord through my life and He made it my focus, but I let distractions aka squirrel, take me away from following that path. Like Dug, I would get moving toward that goal and then someone or something would get me distracted and back on the path of status quo.  I would wake up months down the road and think, “How did I get here?”  Not a memory loss, but a commitment loss.  In working with leadership in the church I have seen it again and again.  A person will feel called to serve in a particular area and they are red hot, then a squirrel walks by.  Distraction!!!  They start to lose their fervency about the thing they were supposed to do and starting chasing things that are less than what God wanted them to do.  Distractions come from many sources; loved ones, jealous friends, other distracted people, non-dreamers, etc.  However those distractions come and wherever they come from, we’ve got to fight it constantly.  Then you may ask, “How can I know what I am focusing on is the right thing, so I don’t waste my time going after the wrong thing?”  For Christians it comes back to the same thing again and again, discernment.  God gives us direction through His Word and through an inherent map made possible through the Holy Spirit.  That map is God’s Plan for our life and His perfect GPS will guide us to our location every time.  But we must trust Him.  Think about it.  Is it God’s plan for all Christians to do the exact same thing week after week, and day after day in their lives?  Out of 168 hours in a week, here’s what it looks like.  Sunday Church – Sunday School 1 hour/Worship 1 hour (two hours if you have Sunday Night Services)  Wednesday Church – Bible Study/Prayer Meeting for 1 hour and if you sing, Choir Rehearsal for 1 hours.  In between those times, what are you doing?  Squirrel!!!   That “church” time adds up to 5 hours at the most and if you are a really committed “saint” you will give God a week or two on a short term mission project once a year.  That’s all great, but look around.  That seems to be all most Christians are doing.  No wonder churches are losing members at an alarming rate!  We are distracted people!!   In Hebrews 12:2 the writer says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”  The Message Translation of the Bible says it this way, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how He did it.  Because He never lost sight of where He was headed.”  Hopefully you haven’t lived a life of distractions, but just in case you have, now is the time to focus and finish strong.

What you need to do is have an all out war with distractions.  In war you plan strategies, accumulate weapons, learn your enemy, and then fight.  In the war with distractions you will need to do just that and not let the “squirrel” moments of your life keep you from continuing to move forward in your walk.   As Paul wrote to Timothy, “don’t entangle yourself in the affairs of everyday life” where distractions are constant.  Live a life of purpose that is meant to please the one who gives us life, Jesus.  Replace “squirrel” with “Jesus” and you will stay on task without distractions taking you from the calling God has placed on your life.  It’s a new day and God is the one who made it.  Let Him guide you through it perfectly.

The Pilgrimage continues….

David Warren

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