Watch Out! Distractions Overhead

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Tearing ourselves away from our distractions can be like a drug addict fiending for a high. Some of us have addictions that fly under the radar of what’s illegal or socially unacceptable. However, if we examine our lives, we’ll find habits that hinder our ability to fully experience God.

Take, for instance, my tennis habit. Innocent sport, nothing illegal or socially unacceptable about tennis. Well, a while back my doubles partner proposed we start playing tournaments. The thought of playing with Carol tempted me. I told her I would think about it. I knew that if I journeyed further down the path of tennis, it would absorb me, my time and my devotion. Without knowing exactly where God would take me, I felt the pull of another path. That was a hard decision to make. I knew I could not devote myself to two things. I had to chose between my desires and God’s. I had to surrender one of them.

Distractions sometimes hide out in our blind spots. While your distraction may not be round and yellow, what about the guy who runs with his shirt off, that bad-news friend, your favorite sports team, or that video game you just can’t put down. Pick your poison. (By the way, guys were my number one distraction, but that’s a whole other Bible study.) We ignore the warning signs in our lives that something or someone threatens to derail us from our life purpose. How do we identify distractions, even the ones that seem relatively harmless?


Deal with Distractions

First, the most important element in identifying a distraction is knowing your life purpose. The only way to know your life purpose is through a relationship with the One who created you, God. Knowing God is the first step to understanding yourself and your life purpose. If you have no clue who you are, there is no way you’ll ever find the path to the life God has mapped out just for you. Proverbs 3:4,5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Many times we reach for a goal, only to find it was a distraction. The satisfaction we thought we would find escapes us. In contemplating Carol’s proposal, I had to consider that tennis may take time that I needed to pursue God’s purpose for my life. Being on speaking terms with God is like having a GPS for your life—minus the robotic voice (Proverbs 20:24).

Next, do you know where you’re headed? Without the right goal in mind, it’s easy to end up on a rabbit trail to nowhere. You may not know exactly what street you’ll end up on, but at least you should have an idea which city you’re going to. I didn’t know where my life was headed. I just knew going down the tennis tournament road was a divergence from the road God had me on, but I had to make a choice. Sometimes God reveals things to us one step at a time. So, if the proposed distraction is headed to Cleveland and you know you should be on the bus to Des Moines, get out of the car and head to the bus station. Find out which path God has mapped out for you and hop on it (Psalm 37:23).

Another way to identify a distraction is to follow its path up the road a bit. For me, tennis was a nice pass time, but while I was “good,” I wasn’t Serena Williams good. Tennis was not my calling; it was a mini-addiction. I knew that based on how much it hurt when I thought about saying no. I was more than a “social” player. Though, I would have a nice time playing, I knew that at that point in my life it would be at the expense of my true calling and purpose. Take a moment to count the cost before you find out too late that your distraction brought you to the wrong city. Jesus says that when we think about following Him, carefully think about what that commitment means. We give up everything, including our distractions (Luke 14:28-33).

Knowing God and where you’re headed sets a course for your life that helps you identify when your decisions cause you to take a detour. If you take the time to play out in your mind the possible ramifications of your decisions, the cost of the detour may encourage you to stay the course. That short, little harmless detour may cause you to miss out on the blessings the Lord has planned for your life.

When it came time to answer Carol and decide whose desire to surrender, I decided to sacrifice mine. As much as it pained me to say no, I told Carol I couldn’t and I’m glad I did. I still enjoy playing tennis but my decision prevented me from dedicating more time than I should have on a hobby. Consequently, I concentrated on growing a small business. While I no longer own my business, God placed in me skills that allow me to now earn a living giving me certain freedoms that my distraction could have otherwise hampered.

Remember, the cost of most distractions are in the fine print of our futures so we don’t always see them clearly. A relationship with God puts your distractions on BLAST.


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