Driven to Distraction

You know, I don’t pay attention to many car commercials, mostly because I can’t afford a new car. But I was watching television over the weekend and one caught my eye like none has in quite a while.

Perhaps you’ve seen it: they ask eight or so people to sit in a room and watch a video on a screen.  You hear a verbal command something to the effect, “Please do not remove your eyes from the screen.  Watch the screen at all times.”

Then the producers send in cute puppies, Vegas-style show girls, loud singers, and a host of other distractions.  And of course, not one participant keeps his/her eyes on the screen.

It’s a car commercial with a target audience for those that feel the need to text while driving.  The car they’re advertising has a text screen located high on the dashboard so that you can text and keep your eyes on the road. Sorry. This makes me nervous. PLEASE DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE — EVEN IF YOU OWN THIS CAR.

The fact that I can’t remember many of the details of this commercial says something. I have to say I wasn’t enthralled by the commercial enough to even remember the make or model of the car. From the moment the commercial started, I heard the still, small voice of God whispering in my ear, “That’s you, Sandy.  You’ve been distracted from Me.”  After that, all I could think of was the spiritual implications of how I’ve been distracted from God.

We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith. and He is the One who makes our faith complete.He suffered death on the cross. But He accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy He could see waiting for Him and now He is sitting at the right hand of God’s Throne.  Hebrews 2:12 ERV

I am a writer, so distractions can be the death of an afternoon of hard work or even an idea. But you don’t have to be a writer for distractions to wreak havoc on your life.

Imagine cleaning your house and happening upon some really interesting television show (Discovery ID can do this for me). You sit to watch a few minutes and the next thing you know it’s time to make supper and do homework with the kids — and that inch of dust is still layered on top of the mantel.

Just about the time you sit down for your quiet time in the Bible and a moment to commune with God, a friend with whom you’ve not spoken in ages calls…and it just seems rude to hang up. Before you know it, it’s been two hours and you now have to rush to get to your doctor’s appointment.

Or, let’s imagine that you are at the grocery store with your list — your concise, nothing-else-needed list; the list that you diligently went through the kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, and the freezer to make; the list you intend to stick to because you’ve promised God to live on a tighter budget and contribute a little extra to the “Imagine No Malaria” campaign at church.   As you turn the first aisle, you notice Nutter Butters are on sale (Or Oreos!) and you counsel with yourself saying, “Just one little bag won’t throw my budget off too much.”  And by the end of the grocery shopping, you’ve “one-little-bagged it” on every aisle and your budget is blown.

“We must never stop looking to Jesus,” is the first line in Hebrews 12:2.

And I fail to do it every day. If you think I’m writing to tell you how well I avoid distractions, my dear Child of God, you are reading the wrong devotion in the wrong blog. It takes great practice to ignore the pleadings of the world and while I’d like to say I spend a good portion of every day practicing avoiding distractions, I don’t spend nearly enough. I get caught up in the drama of the world and let the rush of “being in with the in-crowd” wash all over me.

The point I want to share with you is that God uses worldly things to remind me just how distracted I’ve let myself become. In my gluttony, He shows me a young couple who is barely making it on their own. In my gossip-carrying mouth, He allows me to see or hear a bit of unkindness about myself so that I can lay my hate-carrying tongue on His altar for cleansing. In my impatience, He allows me to experience waiting in a way that will only point me to Him. If I’m carrying a grudge or hate in my heart toward someone, He somehow shows me that I have the same quality I dislike about that person.  I must humble myself and forgive that person or there will be no forthcoming forgiveness from God to me.

In my distracted mind, God shows me a car commercial in which the message isn’t that I can text and watch the road at the same time, but that I can’t remain close to God and let a distraction take my attention away. I must remain focused on my Lord as if the distractions of this world are nothing or I will miss the joy that is waiting for me.

Do you have a something you’d like to share in the comments?  Do you need prayer?  If so, you can leave a detailed request or simply write “unspoken.”

Don’t miss the joy of the Lord, my friends! And whatever our distractions are, rest assured that God is never distracted from us.

If you don’t know about the wonderful missions project (Imagine No Malaria) by the United Methodist Church, please click on the link above, and if you feel so inclined, a donation would be greatly appreciated.

shr

Advertisements

The Situation

Thank you for those that have been faithful and kept reading the blog’s archives while I was away.  I stepped away from the blog for a year because I needed a spiritual renewal. I felt that I couldn’t share anything worthwhile with you until I got my own spiritual heart beating in sync with God again.

During the past year, I’ve also concentrated on the writing course I’ve been taking online for the last two years.  I prayed for God to open the doors and promised that I wouldn’t hesitate to walk through them.  That was an epic fail. I vigorously argued with God in that arena. And lost. Decided I was wasting precious efforts in the arguing and have walked  through those open doors (mostly — hey, I’m human, which means I’m flawed).

The next open door is an invitation to write my first YA novel, one that’s been in my heart and mind since I was 12 years old.  I’m in the active planning stage (meaning, I’m writing stuff on sticky notes, putting up on a storyboard, and doing lots of research) instead of the “just thinking about it stage,” which is, itself, a job that all writers have.  But if I never write it down, revising and negotiating with my characters and their storylines, then it’s just daydreaming and not constructively moving me toward my goal. I have a wonderful Christian writer/editor, Mary Ryan, who is my teacher in the course,  and who encouraged me to go into the Christian fiction genre (one of those open doors I found easy to walk through).

On my personal seeking journey, I wrote the following devotional.  I wrote it for me, but I hope there are others like me out there who need a gentle prompting to be aware of God’s presence in every life situation.

You will find me sharing Scripture from Isaiah frequently. It falls among my favorite books of the Bible, including Jeremiah, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ephesians. I have been devouring the book of Isaiah for the past two months.

Seek the Lord while you may find Him. Call upon Him now while He is near. Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)

I became a Christian at the tender age of nine. I knew and believed the story of my salvation, but I was a “baby” Christian (seeing God’s Word in simplistic, juvenile ways) for a long while — even into my early 30s. I was fed a great deal of “milk” during that time because I couldn’t grasp the real, deep meaning of some of what God had written in His Instruction Book. And to be honest, I wasn’t looking too hard.

Having children changed that. Kids tend to ask a great many “why” questions — surprisingly-deep spiritual questions. At their young age, I could feed them “milk” answers, but in my heart I knew I was going to have to change if I wanted them to be more than “milk feeders”. I decided that I wanted to have a “meat and potatoes” kind of relationship with God — a hardy relationship that forced me into His Word and into His will.  It was hard, but I had the guidance of many God-fearing, scripture-quoting, patient teachers who helped me change my spiritual diet.

If you look at this verse from Isaiah, two questions may bounce around in your head:
Why do I have to find God; doesn’t He know where I am?
Isn’t God always near?

First, God knows where we are at all times, but the reason we often have to seek for (or find) God is because we’re on a journey manufactured by our own devices. We choose our wisdom over that of the omnipotent, almighty Father. We might be in the same BOOK, but not on the same PAGE as God. (Sometimes I was in the wrong LIBRARY in the wrong CITY in the wrong COUNTRY. I know what’s it like to that wrong!)

Secondly, when we are far apart from God, GUESS WHO MOVED? Yep. We did. Detours take us off the path of righteousness and lead us into the depths of despair, depression, and loneliness. BEING APART FROM GOD IS A PUNISHMENT THAT WE INFLICT UPON OURSELVES! God never moves! Thank goodness, He’s never-changing!

The great redemptive glory is the moment we drop on our knees and repent, asking for God to take over and to gather us into His warm, loving embrace — a hug, of sorts, for comfort and healing — He pulls up His “moving van” and moves us to his “home base” immediately.  If you’ll let him, he’ll leave all the extraneous, misguided misinformation behind and set you on a path of righteousness.

My life was completely changed when I gave God control and let Him lead me. I don’t always get it right, but I know enough to recognize the signs when I’m wrong — even when it goes against the popular choice of others. Not allowing God to lead you is like letting “the carrot lead the stick,” as my friend Pastor Eddie Brookshire would say.

I don’t know when He’s coming back, but Jesus IS coming back. It’s imperative that you seek Him while you still have time to find Him. That’s a call for URGENCY!

Calling on Him while He is near is a DIRECTIONAL REMINDER to only go through doors that are opened by God. It insures you will remain in His will and the promptings of the Holy Spirit will be easier to feel; the “still small voice of God” will be heard more clearly.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAD TO LET GOD MOVE YOU BACK INTO HIS WILL? If so, please share your journey in the comments.

I’m praying for you! If you’d like me and my church to pray for you, please leave your request, with details if you’d like, or just leave the word “unspoken” in the comment space.

Have a blessed day. And remember, if God’s not changing your situation, He’s using your situation to change you!

shr