The Truth About Distractions

I have a confession to make… One of my biggest battles is distractions. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. If something new pops in my head, or I hear something near me (people talking, a news program, middle of a movie dialog, whatever), I am immediately drawn to turn my attention off what I was doing and on to the new thing.

This can be a serious problem.

For one, distractions could keep me from finishing or accomplishing tasks. But because I’m aware of my proneness to distractions, another problem exists. I can get so focused on what I’m doing that I either tune out everything around me (including taco shells burning in the oven) or I get irritable and snappy with those “distracting” me. Both scenarios are bad, which is why I try to constantly stay aware of this weakness.

And just recently I discovered something about distractions I’ve never seen before…

Now it happened as they went that Jesus entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

I’ve read this story many times. I can relate to Martha being distracted. And I knew how Jesus responded to her regarding the choice her sister made to stay and listen to Him versus getting up and serving. But I missed the definition plainly laid out in God’s Word! The Bible says Martha was distracted. Jesus said Martha was worried and troubled.

Therefore, distractions are a result of being worried or troubled.

When I first saw this (and couldn’t deny it was right there in plain print), I thought, “But I’m not a worrier.” And the Holy Spirit said, “You’re worried you’ll forget or miss out.”

He got me. The reason I’m easily distracted is largely in part to my own forgetfulness. I know myself. If I don’t deal with something that crosses my path right there in that moment, I rarely remember to come back to it. So in a sense, it was my “worry” that I’d forget that makes me detour from what I was doing and cause me to give my attention to something else.

The problem is that, like Martha, I can do that in prayer or time with God too. Believe me, I think it’s ridiculous but it’s the truth. And on top of that, now our society has a new acronym for this growing problem: FOMO. It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It’s a result of social media. We’re constantly distracted by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat for FOMO. And all “fear of missing out” has a twinge of insecurity floating around in it.

Thankfully, God’s Word has a lot to say on this subject:

“And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction” (1 Corinthians 7:35).

Concerning the parable of the sower and seed on thorny ground, Jesus said, “The cares and anxieties of the world and the distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless” (Mark 4:19, Amplified).

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust” (Proverbs 4:23-27, Message).

“With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1, Message).

“Looking [away from all that will distract] to Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:2, Amplified).

There’s the key… The same solution Mary found that confounded Martha. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” It sounds so simple but it’s true. When we’re distracted, the Holy Spirit will checks us. Knowledge of Jesus (who is the Word made flesh) will tug at our heart and mind to help keep us on track. It’s still our choice to stay distracted or not, but we won’t have an excuse. Therefore, the more effort I put on hiding God’s Word in my heart, the less opportunity there will be to stay distracted.

What I want to make clear is that DISTRACTIONS are the result of some form of worry –even if that worry is simple forgetfulness or fear of missing out. As long as you and I know this truth, it will help us choose wisely.