Tell Your Distractions to Take a Back Seat

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Perhaps you can identify with my college experience. In my first semester I studied hard. I pulled all-nighters and I earned a scholarship. By my second semester, the college life set in and I became distracted. My new friends pulled me in a different direction. Discipline went by the wayside and my social life took center stage.

I woke up from the college daze in my second to last semester. By that time my grade point average was very low. Since I spent much of my college life barely getting by academically, I had little idea which direction I wanted to head after graduation. I wasted a lot of time doing nothingness instead of preparing for my future. I lived from one distraction to the next. I have always admired people who identify their goals early in life and stick to them.

Jesus knew God had a plan for His life when He was very young. As a child, Jesus and His family traveled to Jerusalem for a religious festival with a group of people. On the way back home, His parents realized Jesus was not among the caravan of travelers. They returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus teaching in the temple. When they questioned Him, He responded by saying, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) From early in life Jesus knew He was on a mission.

Matthew 16, however, tells of a time someone tried to distract Jesus from fulfilling the goal God had for His life. Jesus shared with His disciples His mission in life so they could prepare themselves. He told them that He would be killed but that He would also be resurrected. Jesus would later explain that His death was necessary for our sins to be forgiven. (Matthew 26:28) Jesus is God’s plan to restore humanity’s relationship with God which humanity severed when we first disobeyed God.

However, when Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, hears the plan, he tries to dissuade Jesus from His mission. In response, Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” Jesus had a previous encounter with Satan (Matthew 4:10) Believing that Satan exists can be hard for us to believe but his influence is evident in the world. Jesus recognized Satan’s influence in Peter’s response and shut him down.

I did not recognize Satan’s influence in my life until it was too late. I suffered the loss of my scholarship. I wandered in my career for years. My love life was a disaster. When my wild and “carefree” life caught up with me, my life hurt. My desire to deal with the emotionally painfully consequences of my choices led me into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I learned that while setting goals gives direction to life, the goals God has for each of us gives purpose to life. Now when people or situations try to dissuade me from my goals, I am better able to resist their influence. Like Jesus’ example, I have learned to stay the course.

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