The Danger of Distractions & Your Best ‘Yes’
“The thing about a diversion is that it has to be diverting.”
― Eoin Colfer,
A Mountain Road
I did it – followed my instincts and turned down a mysterious side road in the mountains. It looked so inviting that I could not resist. Around the bend appeared a postcard farm complete with red barn and cows in a pasture. The peace of the place enveloped me. It was a joy to look on and a blessed diversion from a long trip.
A detour of this nature can be life-giving, refreshing, and restful after a long day. But what about those distractions that seem to steal time instead of give it?
I am usually a person so focused on my purpose that sometimes even my close friends have to call and say, “Where have you been?” I always plan what I want to accomplish and usually stick to the task. But. The other day, I noticed a very real need in someone’s life and I stepped in to offer help.
It became a situation that pulled me right in and down and consumed way too much time. I realized later, after picking myself up and brushing myself off, that I had not stopped to ask the Father if I should get involved. Had He arranged that timing or was my desire to help speaking more loudly than His still, small voice? I had offered and said ‘yes’ and now wished I had not.
Distractions will come. Like the accident on the highway we’re driving by, we want to see and know what’s going on over there with someone else. Or we stop and give way too much time to things that aren’t on our list for the day. Some of us think that if someone asks us to do something that we should if we’re ‘a good Christian’. From wrong beliefs to wrong desires to immaturity, humans are bent towards distraction.
Positive and regular distractions can be good and help us maintain overall health but unhealthy or even what we might describe as ungodly distractions (meaning those that take us away from where the Lord has us focused) can steal time, peace, and joy.
Distraction is defined as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else” with synonyms like “diversion, interruption, disturbance, interference, hindrance” meaning “a distraction from the real issues”.
Why are we drawn aside?
Distractions become distractions because something about it matters to some part of us. It may be a concerning family situation, a bowl of ice cream, or what someone reportedly said about you. It may be a news report that captures your attention or a request from someone you care about. It may be a coworker you’re suddenly attracted to that distracts you from your promise of faithfulness to your spouse.
The problem lies in distractions becoming diversions with the result of pulling us away, whether temporarily or permanently from where we should be. Jesus said that those who aren’t following Him are like wandering sheep without a Shepherd.
Sheep are easily distracted. Without a shepherd, sheep go astray. They follow their appetites. They get lost and stuck in the briars and mud. They place themselves in danger without realizing it. They become easy prey for aggressors.
When sheep have a shepherd, they have someone who protects them, who is focused on their good and keeps their attention, calling them to return to the fold when they begin to wander off.
Does this ever happen to you?
Remember Your Best Yes
Distractions that make it difficult to think or pay attention can get us in trouble. Diversions can cause us to say ‘yes’ to things that want to steal our time, our joy, or our focus. Even good things! Sometimes our ‘best yes’ is difficult because we may genuinely care about the need we see.
To avoid ungodly distractions that may pull us away from our purpose and send us off the path of following where the Lord is leading, we need to remember Oswald Chambers words: “The good is the enemy of the best.”
Remember your true values, your purpose, and the reasons you have for living an intentional life. Clear out the clutter and focus on what matters to your overall life purpose. Seek to align your heart with the heart of the Father. Then as He leads, you can walk in the Spirit saying ‘yes’ to the right things that fulfill your purpose for the day.
But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). – Galatians 5:16 Amplified Bible
The Lord may lead you away from your organized list, so be flexible in following His voice. He creates opportunities that sometimes surprises us! Jesus lived according to the Father’s voice and that is our goal as well.
Steps to avoiding distractions (print, cut out, and tape to bathroom mirror):
Pray for discernment.
Refocus on Jesus daily; spending time with Him brings clarity.
Have an accountability partner.
Be vulnerable and honest with yourself.
Ask for forgiveness from God, yourself, and others when necessary.
Save your best ‘yes’ for what lines up with your daily purpose.
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in all things; He is your Helper.
Return your gaze back to Jesus and make intentional choices as soon as possible.
The living out of your purpose by following the Spirit of God is completely important. There are things you are here to do, problems to solve, and a world to change. You are here for “such a time as this”. Watch out for distractions and keep to the path, friend.
There’s grace for the journey!
From the desk by the window where the sun is sliding into the west and the cat is asleep on the porch.
(c) November 12, 2017 – Robin Lewis / Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC