People say “Keep your eyes on the prize” to remind others to focus on achieving their goals. The Bible says it this way in Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” We have to put away distractions that capture our attentions and, instead, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. This week, I believe the Lord showed me four kinds of distractions for Christians that can get our heads out of the game.
1. Fellowship With Darkness
A few days ago, a sister in Christ posted a video entitled End Unrighteous Fellowship. It was about limiting time spent with non-Christians because of the spiritual effect they can have on us. Of course, we can’t be rude, and we have to spend certain amounts of time with people at work and even some family members who aren’t saved. But, we shouldn’t actively seek them out for fellowship/fun.
As soon as I heard the video, my mind instantly went to the three ladies I run with at work. We are all on the same team in public education. As such, we spend hours and hours together aligning lesson plans and putting out fires. Occasionally, we eat lunch together, especially on in-service days when we actually get more than 30 minutes to eat and can go to a restaurant. The weird thing is, more often than not when I leave those meetings/lunches, I’m repenting for something I said or thought during that time. Sometimes, though, it’s not even anything I can name. It’s just a general feeling that I am out of sync with the Lord.
The Object Lesson
Then I got the object lesson. It was Sunday night, and just as I was putting on my boots for church, I got a phone call from one of my co-workers asking about something at school. When I was done talking, I put my phone on the arm of the couch and then forgot about it. When I got to church, I didn’t have my cell phone to record the night’s hymns for my YouTube channel playlist called Hymns With Hannah.
I was distracted, and I wasn’t able to do the job that I believe that God called me to do. I think He was showing me a physical example of what actually happens in the spiritual realm. Whether it is ungodliness or just worldliness, time spent with people who don’t have Jesus as their centerpiece can cause us to miss important details in the work that God has for us to do.
Another Object Lesson
That Wednesday night, I did have my phone. As Sister Hannah went to the front to prepare to lead worship, I looked at the videos in my gallery. Were there too many videos there? Would there be enough room? What if the recording stopped in the middle because there was no more space? I started deleting old videos and pictures. The first chords were starting as I hurriedly clicked over to the camera, but I was too late. I missed the opening words of the hymn. Instead of trusting that God would have me covered for the assignment He led me to do, I panicked and missed something important.
Typically, Christians are some of the most personally responsible people you will ever meet. But sometimes that need to be responsible can leave us feeling like it is up to us to take care of all the details. Philippians 4:6 doesn’t say “Be anxious for only the really important things that you can’t afford to get wrong.” It says, “Be anxious for nothing.” And, it doesn’t say, “Just work really hard and double check everything.” It says, “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Of course, there are details we must attend to, and we can’t live recklessly. But the main thing is that when it comes to the actual jobs that God has called us to do, we must keep our focus first and foremost on Jesus. He will take care of us. We just need to keep in very close contact with Him and be led by the Spirit in all things. We can’t let fear or anxiety get in the way of being effective for God. Isaiah 41:10 tells us not to be dismayed. It says that He will strengthen us, help us, and uphold us with His righteous right hand. We just have to trust Him.
3. Social Media
I don’t need to tell anyone here that social media can be a distraction. We all know it. Every time you look in your feed, someone is signing off for a Facebook fast or checking out of Twitter for a while or taking a hiatus from Instagram. People feel the need to break away entirely because it is so very hard to keep in moderation.
Either One More Object Lesson or a Phenomenon
What I wanted to mention here, though, I haven’t heard anyone else say. Maybe it is because it only happens to me, and it is just one more object lesson. Or, maybe it is because it’s a feeling that’s kind of hard to describe. But lately, I have had this feeling when I’m on Facebook like I’m caught in one of the old-time Star Trek’s tractor beams. My mind is almost like in a kind of quick-sand. I want to click out and do something else, but it takes real effort to wrench myself away. It’s a new feeling. I really don’t remember this happening until just recently, and It doesn’t happen every time. It’s also much stronger with my phone than my laptop. But, there have been many times lately in which I have even likened it to feeling kind of drugged.
The Effects of Social Media
Now, we don’t know the long term effects on the brain of the super dopamine hits that come with “likes” and “shares” on social media. What we do know is that Satan is the prince of the power of the air (waves). And, he knows his time is short. Whether it is psychological, spiritual, or both, there is a real danger in losing ourselves in “the scroll.” When you can sit down to check Facebook at 6:30 PM, and five minutes later it’s 8:30 PM, and that is all you have done, that is a problem.
Now, not all social media is bad, for sure. I connect with many Spirit-filled Christians online, and we discuss issues that are important for iron to sharpen iron. We support each other, pray for each other, and help one another keep abreast of the things happening in these last days. But, the Bible tells us to walk in wisdom. In Ephesians 5:15, it says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” We must make our time both purposeful and limited on social media. We have to prioritize time spent getting closer to Jesus.
4. “Hidden” Sin
This last one is a late entry. I finished my article yesterday and was just waiting until after church to publish. (I always do that in case the pastor mentions something I need to add.) But last night, I had a dream that gave me my fourth point.
In the dream, I was on the couch with an old boyfriend from high school, and we were kissing and touching. Now, in real life, this person is someone whom I thought about and wanted for a ridiculous number of years of my life. After I got truly converted just a few short years ago, I understood that I did not want him as a person at all. He was an idol I had set up in my heart.
Anyway, in the dream, I was the age I am now. I knew we were both married, and I knew that it was wrong, but it was dark, so no I thought one could see. Then I opened my eyes and realized that it was only dark TO ME because I had my eyes closed. Everyone else could see just fine. In fact, other people were in the room, including my mother, a person I am desperately trying to win to the Lord. As soon as I realized that everyone could see, I disengaged. I then went to work on my blog, feeling terrible that I had destroyed my Christian witness.
Mark 4:22 says, “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.” If anyone reading this has sins that you think are hidden, I believe the message here is that they are only hidden TO YOU. You may be trying to overcome them in the flesh, all the while thinking that it is between you and the Lord, but others who are watching you see more than you think. Plus, your efforts to hide those sins are distracting you from the work God has for you. It’s time to lay those sins at the foot of the cross, make no provision for them, and seek deliverance. God can then remove the idol you have set up in your heart. Then your witness for Him will be pure and undefiled, and your attentions will be stayed on Him.
The Hour Is Late
The hour is late. We must guard our hearts and minds. Examine yourself and take these four areas of distractions for Christians to the Lord in prayer. There are many prophetic voices warning that 2020 will come with some difficulties. We must be ready to face the new year with a renewed mind, firmly grounded in the Word, and strong in our walk with the Lord.
Enjoy timely articles? Try 4 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Deception. In it, I tell a story about a time I was deceived and what God taught me though the experience. Or, try Three Steps to Forgive From the Heart. In that one, we look at the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant and learn ways to truly forgive.
Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.