Our world has become a constant feed of information and entertainment. We take our phones with us everywhere we go. There are televisions in nearly every restaurant and coffee shop. We are fed messages (propaganda really) relentlessly from advertisements on nearly every flat surface. And we are bombarded with a 24-hour satellite news cycle. It is overwhelming, and we do little to combat it.
Each bit of information enters our mind with one goal: To gain control of our attention and resources. With so much information battling for our attention, we become overwhelmed and take our eyes off of Jesus. Like Peter when Jesus told him to step out of the boat…as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he was walking on water, but as soon as he became distracted by the fierceness of the storm, he began to panic, and sink.
I was sitting outside this morning having my daily time with Abba and feeling distracted by all that is going on in the world. Earthquakes, hurricanes, deadly wildfires, viruses, riots, school shootings, I don’t know about you, but I can get pulled into that stuff in the blink of an eye if I am not careful.
As I sat in my distracted state, I began to think about what I was being distracted from. Here I am sitting on my patio on a beautiful morning reading God’s word, praying, journaling, and all of a sudden, I am pulled out of all of it because a thought traveled across my mind. The next thing I know I am feeling anxious about all that is going on, and I begin to worry about the future. I could feel my shoulders tighten, and my heart sinking.
It was at that moment that I felt a little nudge by the Spirit shaking me out of my downward spiral. The light bulb went on and I began to think about how the enemy of our souls loves to distract us from being in the moment. Now, you will have to give me some grace regarding how my mind works sometimes. As I sat there, I had this memory from the movie Christmas Vacation. It is a National Lampoon movie that came out in 1989, and for many, it has become a family tradition to watch every year. There is a scene early in the movie where Clark Griswold is taking his family out in the country to find the ultimate family Christmas tree. As they are driving there are a couple of good-ole-boys in an old pickup truck that start to harass Clark. After passing each other a few times Clark says, “Look kids a deer” distracting the kids so that he could make a hand gesture to the men in the truck. Neat trick and it is one that the enemy uses on us daily, and if we don’t grow in our awareness, we pretty much always fall for it.
It goes something like this. Look, Pete, the world is falling apart, and the economy is crumbling, and I take my eyes off of Jesus and look at what the Father of Lies is pointing at. A friend of mine texted me the other day and said he was really struggling to trust God to follow through on something that he felt God had laid on his heart. He had heard the enemy say, you know that meeting is not going to go well, you are going to be rejected and your dream is not going to be realized. He spent a few hours spiraling into self-doubt and fear before he reached out. Do you see how this works? If you are reading this, I am pretty sure that you can think of times in your own life when you have been distracted in a similar way.
Here is the thing though, God has already given us a way to combat the Spirit of Distraction. We are to apply God’s truth against the lies. James 4:7-8 says to “resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” The truth is, that there is no maybe in those verses, it is clear. When we exercise the authority we have in Christ, the Devil has no choice but to flee from you and me.
The other truth is that as we exercise the muscle of our will to resist, we become more and more aware of the schemes the enemy uses to distract us from present moment living. We are much quicker to see through his tactics and shut down his attempts to distract us. This is true freedom in Christ…not to do whatever we want, but the freedom to become who we were meant to be.