November 11, 2015 Ponder
Distractions are an issue for people of all ages. Children are often reminded: “You need to pay attention.” Teenagers must be attentive to details when learning to drive. Adults find out the hard way that distractions can turn into traffic violations. Our world is filled with distractions, and learning to manage them is a lifelong process.
Adam and Eve were distracted by the counterfeit god who convinced them to believe that Creator God was limiting their potential. King David was distracted by the sight of a woman taking a bath. Peter was distracted by fear when a young lady accused him of being a follower of Jesus. What these stories share is someone who allowed their focus to turn away from truth – for just a short period of time.
When Elijah was about to leave Planet Earth, his successor, Elisha, wanted Elijah’s blessing, along with assurance that he would carry on with Elijah’s ministry. Elijah told him that the way this could happen was if Elisha saw him leave. Several times after that, Elisha made choices to stay close to Elijah. The happy result was that he did see Elijah leave and received the desired request.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” The translation could be “looking unto Jesus,” with the idea that we do not take our eyes off of Him. This presents a challenge, because Jesus is not in bodily form with us. Imagine what it would be like to have Jesus in our home when we wake up, know that He was within voice range during the day and in some part of our home during the night. Fixing our eyes on Him would be rather easy.
If we have trusted Jesus as our Savior, we know that God’s Presence, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, is within us. That makes God even closer to us than having Jesus in another part of our home. But it is easier to forget how close He is when we cannot see Him, and that opens the door to distractions. They may come in the form of thoughts, sights, sounds, smells and often words.
We need to develop a “God-conscious” mentality that becomes a combination of being aware of His Presence while focused on the priorities of the moment. We can assist our mind by having objects around us that remind us of Him. On my desk is a communion cup, an hourglass and a picture of Carol. These are vivid reminders of the person I want to honor, the reality that time is passing and I will never get this moment back, and that Jesus could come for me at any moment. As I am preparing a message, talking on the phone, sending an email, having a conversation or surfing the internet, I am assisted in my attempt to have a fixed focus on Jesus. The distractions have to find their way through these “filters” before they get to my mind and emotions.
I wish I could say that this is a sure formula for consistent “looking unto Jesus,” but that is not the case. It is a journey that is sometimes more on track than others, and I am grateful for God’s patience and guidance. My focused attention on Him is more consistent now than in the past, but the journey continues – and will need to do so until the time when I have my eyes fixed on Him as He takes me Home to Heaven.
Pastor Bill Ehmann