For most of us, life is full of too many distractions. Our hurry-sickness and fast-pace culture too often cloud our thinking and distract us from the important stuff. Our time with God through devotions and Bible study often are placed on the back burner as we answer a phone call, respond to a text, or an issue pops up requiring our attention.
Over the years and in a variety of situations, I’ve felt that I’m a pretty good multitasker. I believed that I could usually handle several issues or thoughts at the same time, but a recent experience shocked me to my very core. This issue so impacted my life that I decided that this month our devotionals would discuss how distractions can influence our lives.
On a beautiful spring day, I had driven about an hour from our home to meet with a colleague regarding a ministry opportunity. In packing my truck to return home I was interrupted by my friend to check out one last thing. I had my Bible in hand at the time and rather than take the time to unlock my vehicle and place the Bible inside I put it on the back portion of the cover to the bed of the truck. That way I would see it upon my return to my vehicle. The bed cover is a slick hard plastic piece with no raised edges or guides.
That forty-year-old, leather-bound Bible has all our personal notations and comments in the margins on every page of this treasured masterpiece. Needless to say, it is priceless to my wife and me.
After the fifteen-minute distraction with my friend, I piled into my pickup while I was thinking about several issues we had discussed. The ride home was enjoyable once I got off the curvy road leading to the highway. After driving about 50 minutes I glanced at the passenger side of the cab to check that my Bible was riding securely where in normally sits.
To my shock it wasn’t there. I quickly looked to the back-passenger side seat to see if I had placed it there. No, it wasn’t there. How could I have been so distracted that one of the most important possessions I own would have been lost in such a careless manner? I immediately pulled off the highway and made a turn onto a side road. I opened the rear door to check the space behind the driver’s seat to see if I had placed it on that seat. It wasn’t there either. I sadly looked at the spot on the rear cover where I remember leaving it and reflected upon my mistake. Then as my head turned to get back into the truck so I could retrace my route, I noticed tucked against the rear window was my Bible.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I kept saying out loud, repeatedly, “Lord, how is that possible?” I got into my truck and began to weep as I considered God’s grace, mercy, and omnipresence. Wow, He is with us even when we mess up. Praise God!
I’m reminded how the Psalmist must have felt when he scribed the words, ”Give ear to my prayer, O God. And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted.” (Psalm 55:1–2 NASB)
This experience was a wake-up call for me. I’ve noticed that all of us can allow ourselves to so focus on things like the crazy news on our radios or televisions; the hurried pace of our culture; the endless list of “to-dos;” the financial burdens associated with never ending lists of demands; a health crisis that threatens our peace and joy; and the constant attacks upon our faith and liberties that we can forget about the most obvious and important things in life.
Life is full of distractions, some of them costly. Those distractions could take us to the end of life without fulfilling our dreams and, most importantly, our calling. In Mark 13, Jesus warns us against some major distractions that we must be mindful of, particularly between now and His return.
In this chapter, Jesus is sitting on the steps of the temple as He discusses questions the disciples have about the temple and end times. Jesus helps His disciples focus upon three things in the practice of being mindful and intentional in what they think and do.
1 – Be Mindful of Ignorance
He says, “Beware that no one leads you astray.” (v. 5).
The word “beware” is translated from Greek meaning “to see” not only with eyes, but also with mind’s eyes. It means “to perceive” or “to be mindful.” He says, “Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.” There will be false teachers out there that prey on the gullible. You must be mindful, or you will be led astray, just like a sheep being led astray by a thief.
How do you become mindful of false teaching? The solution is to get intimate with God’s Word — the truth. In verse 23, he says, “But be alert; I have already told you everything.”
We aren’t to allow ourselves to become so distracted that we forget about our responsibilities as His witnesses. We are His sheep and need to hear His voice.
2 – Be Mindful of Noise or Clutter in our Lives
Not only ignorance can distract us, but also mischance can distract us. Jesus said:
When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
— Mark 13:7–8
Sometimes the noise and clutter in our lives can distract us from living a life God meant for us to live. He said, “do not be alarmed.” That means we cannot avoid misadventure, distractions, or a gaze that takes our focus off His will for our lives. The word “alarmed” is translated meaning “to be troubled in mind.” When your mind becomes troubled, you lose your mindfulness.
How do you overcome the distraction of confusion and clutter? He says, “This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” Mothers understand this best. We all know the pain of giving birth, but on the other side of pain is a beautiful new life being brought to our presence. So, don’t let your mind be troubled by the mischance. Realize it is just the birth pangs. God is giving birth to a new world. Keep your faith alive so that you won’t get distracted or distressed by all the noise and confusion found in our daily living.
3 – Be Mindful of Inactivity
In addition to ignorance and mindless clutter, we can also become distracted by inactivity. Jesus said, in Mark 13:32–37 (NRSV):
But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.
In this passage, He emphasizes the mindfulness with watchfulness. He says, “be mindful and be awake.” Don’t be asleep or inactive! Activate your mind and heart to take a stand for Jesus. Become active in your church, community, and with your neighborhood.
God enabled me to reclaim His word and the many promises we have recorded in our Bible. My Bible is back in its rightful place at my bedside. Thank you, Jesus!
Lately, what distractions have pulled you away from God’s Word?
How can you be more intentional about protecting and receiving God’s Word?
Are you mindful of the distractions in your life?
Jim Grassi, D. Min.