I think one of the most beloved movie characters in recent years is Dug from the movie “Up”. If you don’t know, Dug is the dog that can talk. While having a conversation with people he famously interrupts himself and yells “Squirrel!” before refocusing on what was happening. I know I relate to Dug all too well. I get distracted all too often. My word processing software updated and changed the background of my menu bar and I just spent 10 minutes distracted by deciding what color and design I wanted to see whenever I use the program instead of doing what I was initially trying to do. I’m sure you feel the same to some degree. Even now you are probably reading this on a smartphone which is buzzing telling you about the Facebook activity of that guy who sat behind you in English class in 10th grade, but you haven’t actually talked to in a decade or more; almost yelling, “SQUIRREL!” right in your ear. I’m not saying you have to read this, but I am assuming if you clicked on it to read it you have the intent of reading it but are getting distracted.
So what do we do about these distractions? I believe it all starts with perspective. I have poor vision. One eye sees things at a distance well and the other eye sees things close well but neither does both. That means without my glasses or contacts life is blurry. I can make it through a day, I’m not blind, but it gives me a headache and I can get nauseous. Once my glasses are on though, the world comes into focus. That’s the same thing with the distractions in our life. If we start the day putting on our spiritual glasses, the rest of the day comes into focus and we see what it is we need to see.
What is it that we need to see? As a Christian, which is anyone who: 1-has realized they are a sinner 2-there is nothing they can do to change that (no amount of good works) 3-trusting in Christ is the only way to be saved from the punishment of sin. If that is you, then you have been called to a very specific purpose, to “go into all the world and make disciples” according to Matthew 28 or like it says in Mark 16, “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel.” That should be our focus, that is what we need to see. Christ commanded us to do it, yet we lose focus way too often and get distracted by other things. Instead of thinking about how we can share the gospel with our co-workers we get distracted by how much we dis-like our job. Instead of discipling our children and training them to be like Jesus we get distracted by our phones or TV or our own hobby, so we can turn our brain off for a minute and relax. At times it feels like we (really, I mean “I” I just say “we” because it’s less convicting for me) our distractions are so many that we need a distraction to forget about the distractions that distracted us in the first place. In reality we just need to put on our glasses, so we can focus.
One thing that I do to help me focus is I will not check my phone in the morning until I’ve read God’s word and had time with him. Now, I didn’t come up with that idea, I don’t remember where I heard that or where I got it from, but I have used it since and it has been a help in getting my perspective set correctly so I can focus. Believe me I still check my phone way too often, I still put more important things aside to do things that are easier or more entertaining. Making God’s word a priority helps me get in the mindset of Colossians 3:2 where Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” The only way we can stay focused on what God has called us to do, share the gospel and make disciples, is to be in his word and communicate with Him.
Remember that guy who sat behind you in English class in 10th grade but you haven’t actually talked to in a decade or more that Facebook just buzzed so you could look at the latest meme he shared? What can you tell me about him other than what his favorite memes are? Probably not a lot other than the superficial things that I could find out on my own. You don’t know a lot about him to tell me about him because you don’t talk to him on a regular basis. It’s the same thing with your relationship with God. If you aren’t reading and praying and having time where you can get to know God how can you tell other people about Him or show them how to live like Him? Find time to spend in God’s word, I recommend starting the day that way. I mean, it wouldn’t be very helpful if I put my glasses on before I went to sleep, but when I start the day by putting them on that makes sense.
Take some time, think about what distracts you. Do you get distracted by people’s opinions of you? Do you get distracted by technology and not focus on the people that are in your life right now sitting near you? What is it that pulls your focus from proclaiming the gospel and making disciples? Now think about when is a time you can put on your glasses and focus? When can you take a minute to communicate with God and focus your day around what He has called you to?
I understand that we all have “Squirrel!” moments, me more than I’d like to admit, but we must make a conscious effort to focus and forget the distractions everywhere and set our minds on God’s work.
Richie Gibson-Youth Pastor