Distractions come in all shapes and sizes interrupting our plans, dreams, and many other areas of our lives. When I think of distractions, my mind immediately goes to a scene in the movie Up. Dug, the dog, comes up to Carl, the widower, and starts explaining to Carl why he can talk. In the middle of explaining, Dug quickly turns his head and cries out:
Then after a moment turns back and continues his conversation.
At the time of this writing, my day has been filled with squirrels; some self-imposed and others just part of the typical day. It feels like whenever there is a job to do, you can count on a multitude of other things vying for your time.
No other person on earth can help us live distraction-free except our Lord and Savior. Jesus had a purpose and mission while on earth, and He did not let anything take away from that calling. His self-discipline in living a distraction-free life started at an early age.
“Every year, His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. When they didn’t find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking him questions. And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers. When His parent saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.”
“Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand what He said to them.” Luke 2:41-50
Before Jesus even started His earthly ministry, He was practicing spending time in His Father’s house. Surely He related to David’s prayer in Psalm 27:4
“One thing I ask this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
Christ’s response to His mother was not one of disrespect but a statement of His actual position and purpose. He would be in fellowship with His Father at all costs and without distractions from parents, disciples, crowds, or demons.
Distraction-free living begins with a desire to be in the presence of God.
As Christ modeled our hearts should have one desire, and that is to seek God. Our focus is to be on Him. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus response reflects distraction-free living.
“He said to them, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40
God wants our whole being. When we walk in distraction-free living and love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, He promises He will be with us. James 4:8 states:
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
The key to distraction-free living begins with a desire to seek God, but it doesn’t stop there. Distraction-free living is a continual lifestyle that requires action.
Distraction-free living continues with action.
Jesus didn’t just spend time with God one time and then said okay I got this. No. He continually spent time in the presence of God. We could easily cop out and say, well He was God, and it is impossible for me to do. I can’t spend 24/7 in my prayer closet. That is not distraction-free living.
Refusing to give in to distractions means remembering God is already with us. What we are doing or saying or thinking is an offering to our Lord.
Brother Lawrence is an excellent example of what it looks like to practice the presence of God. He described what it means to practice the presence of God in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims: The Spiritual Secrets of a Humble Brother Who Enjoyed Closeness With God.
“That we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him every moment, that we may beg His assistance for knowing His will in things doubtful, and for rightly performing those which we plainly see He requires of us, offering them to Him before we do them, and giving Him thanks when we have done.”
Brother Lawrence highlights three things when practicing God’s presence. First, we need to recognize that God is already present with us. Second, to ask for His assistance. Then carry those tasks out as an offering and with thanksgiving.
One of the more famous stories surrounding Brother Lawrence’s intentional practicing the presence of God is when he is in the kitchen peeling potatoes. Hear his understanding of what it looks like to be distraction-free.
“The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”
Learning from His example, we too are encouraged to do everything as unto the Lord as these verses remind us.
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23
“Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him (into His presence) with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2
Not being distracted takes love for God the Father and obedience to Him at all times. To abide in Christ is the greatest weapon against distractions.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” John 15:5
When we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, ask for His help, and then work as unto Him with thanksgiving, distractions fade away, and we enjoy the blessing of walking with our Lord and Savior most intimately.
There is an older lady in my church who knows how to abide in Christ and live a distraction-free life. She will occasionally call and tell me that she wasn’t at church because she felt like God was telling her she needed to stay home. She and God had some business to do.
Every time I think of this story, I think to myself, “That is the kind of relationship I want with the Lord.” The kind of relationship that does not get pushed aside for any reason. The kind where I hear the Lord speak and then walk with Him into the next activity.
How about you?
Are you good at diffusing distractions, or do you find yourself crying SQUIRREL?
Take a step today towards distraction-free living by focusing on God and Him alone.