At first glance, when reading the title of this blog, it may seem that the two words “distraction” and “obedience” do not have much of a correlation. It would make sense to say that if a person is distracted, then they are not choosing to disobey. In other words, is a distracted person willfully choosing not to obey if they have never actually heard a command?
I would argue that the answer is yes. If you don’t agree with me, then consider this example. A boy comes home from school, and knows that most days there is a list of chores on the kitchen counter or the fridge for him to complete. The mother leaves the list in the kitchen, because she knows that her son goes in there every day for a snack when school is over. One day, that child wises up and realizes that if he just doesn’t go in the kitchen, then he won’t have to do any chores. He decides that he can forego his usual snack, and then he can go up in his room, lock the door, put headphones on, and play video games. Then he won’t be able to hear his mom when she is calling for him to come do the chores. The crazy part is that he actually thinks that this will somehow relieve him of his responsibility, and that his mom won’t come up stairs and knock on that door until he answers. In fact, she will probably kick it in if he keeps her waiting too long.
How often do we play this same game with God!? Personally, I am so guilty of this. This is something I have to constantly rely on God to help me with. When things start to get hard, and He is maneuvering me into areas that are getting more and more uncomfortable, I have a tendency to want to distract myself so I don’t hear his voice. I will distract myself with good things! Then I reason out why it is okay to be so distracted, because I am distracted by things like work, ministry, Christian movies and Christian music. At least I am not distracted by bad things like drugs and alcohol right?
The hard answer to this is that distractions are distractions no matter what the form, especially if they are keeping us from God. If that thing is keeping us from hearing His voice and obeying, then it is not benefiting us. It is merely a distraction that we are purposefully giving our attention to, because we are afraid of what God has for us.
For example, God might be impressing upon you that the most important thing in your life right now is to have that uncomfortable conversation with a friend or family member where you need to apologize and ask forgiveness for some hurt you have caused. Or maybe He is telling you to forgive someone for the pain they have caused you. The easy road for you could be to just join another serving team at church, and make yourself so busy that you don’t have to hear God’s voice encouraging you to do this.
Another example might be that God is asking you to communicate the gospel to a friend who is lost. But out of fear, you replace that with something like giving a little extra in the offering on Sunday.
I say all this as someone who really struggles with distraction. My default distractions are busyness and accomplishment. God starts pushing me into areas that are too uncomfortable, and I immediately start making my to-do list of good deeds. I need to pray for these 3 people, give to those 2 people, and serve on one more team at church. It’s as if somehow I believe that these things will fix the internal imperfections that I don’t want to face by moving forward in what God has for me. It is easier to run around completing tasks than it is to stop and listen for God’s instruction.
But we are so blessed to have such a loving Father who is patient with us, and will continue to pursue us. Just like the mother in the earlier example who knocked on her son’s door, our God says to us, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20 NIV).
God loves us, and He knows far better than we do what is best for us. He wants to see us flourish. He is not encouraging us to take uncomfortable steps in our lives so He can watch us struggle. In fact, He promises that He will take those steps with us, and that we don’t have to be afraid. Today all I am asking you to do is STOP! Put aside the distractions for a minute. Put away the cell phone, the laptop and whatever else has your attention. Lean into God, and listen long enough and intently enough for Him to direct your steps for the day.
“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me” – Psalm 81:8
Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” – Luke 9:35