distracted from God

Distracted from God? A story to help your focus

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Do you feel distracted from God lately?

Distractions. Life is full of them. All sorts of things vie for my attention. Amid all the distractions, one thing is most important – keeping God first.

So what does it look like to be distracted from God? What can I compare it to?

Perhaps distracted driving can give valuable insight. It is an issue many people face. 

distracted from God

The Goal

When driving, what is my goal? My goal is to get from point A to B, and then on to point C and D along my journey. Not only do I want to arrive, but I want to arrive in a timely and safe manner: no accidents and preferably no wrong turns along the way.

My walk with God is similar. I want to follow God’s plan and direction for my life. When I look back at the end of my life, I want to see as few wrong turns and accidents as possible.

Of course, my walk with God is so much more than just this. It is a loving life-changing relationship. It is growing to know Him better every day. I do not obey God to earn my salvation. Rather, as I get to know God more each day, I come to see how truly great He is and that His plan is always best. Therefore, I want to follow Him.

Let’s go for a drive

Picture this: one day, I need to go to a new park. I’ve never been there before. First I look up the address and put it in my GPS. Twenty minutes away. Okay, I can do that.

I gather what I need: sunscreen, a snack, and hats. I buckle my kids in, and jump in the car. I turn the key. The engine roars to life.

Backing out of my driveway onto the busy street is tricky. I give it all my attention as I strain to see on-coming traffic. All clear to the right. All clear to the left. Don’t forget to check for pedestrians. Good. Off I go.

Now that I’m driving along, I listen to the kids as they chatter in the back. Something about monster trucks and horse jumps. Odd topic, but they seem to be getting along well.

I glance at my GPS. The route will be familiar for a while, so I can ignore it right now. Music? That would be nice. I hit the power button on the radio. My favourite song is on. I sing along.

Automatically I follow the route. It’s the same way I drive to the grocery store. I roll the window down to enjoy the pleasant day.

A maximum 30mph sign catches my eye. I glance at my speedometer. Oops, I was going a touch fast. Better slow down.

I stop at the red light. When it turns green I take a left.

Suddenly I realize everyone around me has slowed considerably. I frown. This road is supposed to be 30. No one is in front of me so I keep up my speed. Then I see it. A construction sign. I must have missed the first construction sign with the decreased speed limit. Quickly I put on my brakes and join the rest of the drivers at a crawl. Just in time too, as we bump onto an unpaved road.

I let out my breath. I had better pay more attention next time.

I turn on my blinker to take the next right. What’s this? A road closed sign? But I always take that road.

I want to scowl. Instead, I straighten my shoulders. “It’s okay. I’ll take a detour.”

I glance at my GPS. It has already re-routed me. The closed road will cost me a few minutes, but I will get there soon enough.

distracted from God

Gratefully I keep an eye on my GPS as it guides me. When I reach the other end of the closed road, my eyes widen. The bridge I would have crossed is under construction. In fact, they’d removed a whole section of the pavement. Had I ignored the road closed sign, I would have ended up in the river far below! Yikes!

As I steer onto the freeway, a voice from the back seat asks. “Are we there yet?”

It’s my son.

“Not yet.” I respond cheerily.

My daughter pipes up then. “I’m hungry.”

“I’ll get you something to eat when we arrive.”

“I’m hungry too,” my son echoes. “I want to eat now.”

Starting to feel impatient, I glance over my shoulder. “I have granola bars in the back. You can have one when we get there. How about we listen to your CD?”

“Yes!” my kids cry in unison.

Keeping one eye on the road, I reach for the CD, slip it into the machine and turn it on.

My kids appeased, I glance at the GPS again. What?! Make a U-turn?

I frown at the GPS. Surely that’s not right… but it is right. I had missed the turn, five minutes ago!

With a sigh, I prepare to take the next off-ramp. As I get back onto the freeway heading the other direction, I eye the GPS. I give it my full attention.

Yikes! That was close! I didn’t see the car as I merged on. It had been fully in my blind spot. I press a hand against my pounding heart. The last thing I want is an accident. Thankfully I had spotted him in the nick of time.

Another glance at the GPS – not this exit but the next. Okay. We’ll get there soon.

Sure enough, ten minutes later we turn into the parking lot. The sign by the entrance assures me that this is the correct destination.

Comparison

When driving, there is a lot to think about and juggle. So many things fight for my attention and easily distract me. Likewise, in my walk with God, countless things fight for my attention trying to keep me distracted from God.

In driving it could be something in the vehicle that distracts me: the kids in the back, the radio, my cell phone, or something loose in the trunk. Alternatively, it could be something outside the vehicle that distracts me: someone’s bad driving, the weather, a billboard, or a hot air balloon.

Similarly, my walk with God can be disrupted by internal things: a grumpy attitude, unmet desires, or a passion to succeed at other things. It could also be interrupted by external things: a natural disaster, getting that job I always wanted, or trying to meet other people’s expectations.

All these things try to get me distracted from God. When I am distracted from Him, I am likely to miss His guidance. When I miss His guidance, I can end up in a big mess.

Unchanging vs. changing guidance

There are various ways God guides me, just like there are various instructions I must pay attention to when driving.

When driving, some of those instructions are static and unchanging. Speed limits don’t change. Stop signs are there every time. They are not here one day and gone the next.

Likewise, God has given me His Word, the Bible. No matter where He leads me, His Word, and the instructions in it, never change.

Then there are changing directions to be followed. I turn on the GPS and tell it where I want to go. It gives step by step directions along the way. These directions may change depending on my end destination. Turning right here and left there isn’t wrong for everyone, but it might be wrong for me today if I am trying to go somewhere else.

Although God rarely tells me the specifics of where He is leading me, He does guide me step by step to get me where He wants me to be.

(Looking for more thoughts about the GPS-type guidance God gives us? Check out more here.)

How to not be distracted from God

So how do I keep from being distracted from God?

By being intentional to make time for the Bible every day, I will gain a solid understanding of His instructions for my life. It is critical for me to be reading the Bible myself. It would be foolish of me if I only ever listened to what others say the speed limit is, rather than reading the speed signs for myself. Having said that, spending time discussing the Bible with others and listening to well-grounded Bible teachers are huge bonuses, though they ought not to take the place of reading the Bible myself.

As for the GPS type guidance, as I study the Bible, take time for prayer, and connect with older and wiser Christians, I learn to recognize God’s voice. It is rarely a blaring loudspeaker, but more often a gentle nudge. Just like with the GPS, I must keep glancing at Him throughout my journey to help me stay on track. As Hebrews says we are to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1b-2a ESV)

What’s most important?

It’s so easy for me to get caught up with the here and now, while forgetting to focus on God. I invest my time and attention in my family and my career. Is keeping God as my primary focus truly critical?

In light of the comparison with driving, let me ask myself a different question. When the kids are quarrelling in the back seat, and there is breaking news on the radio, and I see a beautiful hawk soaring overhead, what should be my number one focus? If I am behind the steering wheel and the vehicle is moving, then driving must be my number one focus. So long as I keep my driving right, I can deal with the other things. If I don’t get my driving right, I might end up in a wreck leaving me no chance to deal with the other things.

(Sometimes focusing on God includes cutting out distractions and busyness from our lives as I’ve written about here.

As Christian writer Elizabeth George says, “When God is your ultimate priority, everything else will fall into place” and “A wise woman keeps God first.”

Distracted From God?

In conclusion, in order to walk in God’s plan for my life, I must keep myself from being distracted from God.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  (Col. 3:1-3 ESV)

Want to read more Christian allegories? Check them out here!

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