Illusionary Distractions

by | May 19, 2008 | Distraction, Focus

It was during the praise and worship service at church that I saw him. He was standing just across the aisle from me, dancing before the Lord, his hands outstretched as he responded to the outstanding presence of God that surged through this place. His wife and their two-year old daughter were standing with him, and after watching them for a few moments, it was clear that the family loved each other dearly.

This wasn’t why my eyes were drawn in their direction, however. The reason this young man caught my attention was that he reminded me so much of someone who used to be my best friend. He looked a little bit like him, but even more than this, the resemblance was caused by the obvious love he had for his immediate family and by his exuberance in demonstrating his love for God.

Sadly, my dear friend turned his back on God and on his family, and cut all contact with Christian friends. This included me, and as I watched this young man in church, all of my heartache for my friend again hit me squarely in the face, and I started to cry: “How could it be, Lord, that someone so dedicated to You could give it all up?”

I turned my attention back to the praise service, and as I again returned to worshipping God, He answered my question in an unusual way. Though my total concentration was centered upon God, I was suddenly bombarded by thoughts: concerns that still hadn’t been addressed; tasks that needed to be taken care of; people in need of encouragement . . . And the list went on. Suddenly I found myself confused. Here I was, desiring with all my heart to worship God, but instead, my thoughts lingered on worries! Why?

It is then that I heard God’s peaceful voice in my inner heart: “Now you have a glimpse of why some people backslide.”

I started to tremble. It is so easy to be distracted by the pressures of daily life! It is so easy to flirt with sin! Sometimes we aren’t even aware it’s happening, but in the end, we find ourselves on the wrong side of the fence! How discouraging it must be to realize that instead of finding our hands filled with God’s love, all we end up with are vapors of egocentric failures! Is it any wonder that the suicide rate is so high?

Judas is a perfect example of a blackslider who realized his fall too late: “With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.” (Acts 1:18 NIV)

But what can prevent someone from being distracted from their main goal of loving and serving Jesus?

As I pondered this, a Bible text was placed into my conscious thought: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 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.” (Heb 12:1-3 NIV)

It made perfect sense. Whenever we turn our eyes away from Jesus, even for a moment, we become easy prey for the deceptions of life. If we don’t immediately notice this, these innocent deceptions can turn into entanglements and even addictions. This is why it is so important to regularly analyze our daily walk with God, being diligent to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. When our analysis turns up something that could hinder our relationship with God, let’s throw it out the window! If any sin is revealed, let us not excuse it! Instead, let us declare victory over it through the merits of Jesus!

We will all be tempted, but when this happens, let us remember how Jesus resisted temptation, how He chose a cruel death in order to bring us true freedom. Remember, Jesus’ temptations were not easily overcome. He even sweated blood because of them: “Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 NIV) Few of us have ever been tempted to the point of death!

Victory is ours, but it depends upon our ability to persist in fixing our eyes on Jesus “the author and perfecter of our faith.”

In conclusion, I would like to encourage you to spend some time meditating upon Heb 12:1-3. Ask God’s Spirit for guidance as you read these words, presented here from The Message Bible. My prayer is that they will come alive for you!

“Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. 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 – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Heb 12:1-3 The Message)

Rob Chaffart


Illusionary Distractions