Satan doesn’t need to convince us to commit terrible crimes or cause us to believe a number of outrageous lies in order to drag us out of the battle. All he has to do is distract us from the one reason we are here. And for most of us in America, it’s not all that difficult.
I fight distractions every day, and honestly I get tired of fighting distractions. They come in waves; one right after the other. And they never stop. They often get the best of me and I grow discouraged and think the only thing left to do is to sell everything, buy a ticket to Sweden, and live out the rest of my days in a little red cottage by the sea. (And have time to savor my fika every day, not just on Fridays.) But for some strange, unknown reason, God hasn’t yet given me the green light on this. 😉 And so I stay. And I struggle. Daily.
Though our distractions may vary, I imagine there are some commonalities… like technology, getting caught up in the urgent, and discouragement.
We have a general rule in our family that technology is to be used primarily as a tool, not a toy. Technology can be a blessing or a curse. I once heard it said that we live on a battlefield, not on a playground. We are in a spiritual battle every single day, but we often don’t live like it. We forget. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
So, let’s be purposeful in using technology. I am all for fun and laughter and relaxation, and there is certainly a place for that. But when it comes to technology, it helps me greatly when I remember to use it as a tool for work and service, not for play.
I am not saying that we never, ever use it for fun (or that you should never do so), but I will say that having this general rule helps us all to keep focused on what’s important. In other words, plan your fun times involving technology. Plan your movie night, your Facebook time, your online shopping, or whatever is a distraction for you, but control it so that it doesn’t control you.
2) The Urgent
We all make “to do lists” of practical things or urgent things that must be done, but often forget about the things that should be done – the things that in the long run matter most. Not that we want our entire life to become one long “to do list,” but choosing what we will spend our time on before the chaos of the day happens helps us to prioritize the things that matter.
I am at a point in my life where schedules don’t work super well anymore because every day is so different. But one thing I have found to be helpful is to write down the top priorities that are most important to my day.
I’m not talking about the urgent things, like paying the bills or fixing the shower. Not that you shouldn’t write those down too, but also write down the important things that aren’t urgent that tend to get overlooked – things like family Bible time, writing that letter or making that phone call to someone you’ve been thinking about, read-aloud time with your family, exercise, or making a healthful dinner (or if you are like me, sometimes making any kind of dinner would be a big accomplishment.) I don’t personally care too much about what I eat, or when I eat, or if I eat. I could live on meal shakes for sure. But my teenage son is quick to remind me that not all humans can thrive on flavored liquids. 😉
So, I write my priorities down and keep that list in front of me all day long, right next to my “have to” list. It sits on my kitchen island where I will see it often and whenever I am wandering around thinking, “What was I going to do next?” it serves as a constant reminder of what’s most important. I see something on my list and think, “Oh, yeah, this is important and I haven’t done that yet.” If I don’t have the list there, then I just see and get distracted by all the urgent things falling apart around me and I hop from one thing to the next, never getting around to the most important things.
I’ll be the first to admit that all of my important things don’t happen every day, but they each happen a whole lot more than if I didn’t keep that list in front of me.
3) Discouragement. Discouragement is another powerful tool Satan uses to keep us from living for the glory of God. And it’s easy to go there, especially with the amount of times we fail.
I’m an all or nothing person, so if I can’t do something well then I can tend to just skip it all together. If I can’t exercise on my pre-determined schedule, then I quit and say, “Why bother?” and throw the whole thing out the window. If I can’t have my desired, ideal, lengthy quiet time, I say, “What’s the use?” because I hate to be rushed. But this is exactly what Satan wants. So, if something isn’t working, we can’t just give up!
It’s a daily battle. Every day is different. There will not be perfection in this life in anything. Ever. Some of us have a harder time accepting that. But the sooner we can accept it, the better. The sooner we can make the most of it, the better. I am still not great at this, but by golly I keep at it, convinced that I will figure it out one day, or die trying!
On a side note, let me just take this time to say thank you to all the non-perfectionists in my life. I love hanging around you because it helps me see that it’s okay to let things go and that doing things imperfectly is better than not doing them at all. You inspire me and I long to be more like you!
I am also thankful for all the perfectionists in this world because you get it. You understand my struggle. Isn’t it great that God gives us friends who are like us, but also those who aren’t like us?! We need both!
And as John Piper says, “God is not nearly as interested in our efficiency as He is in our faith.” We long to be efficient; to get the important things done in a timely manner without distractions, but friends, this is often not reality. As long as we live on this earth we will have to fight for what’s important. Don’t give up. Remember, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). So, let’s embrace every day as a gift and an opportunity to begin again.
And when distractions get the best of us, let’s never tire of looking up and asking God for wisdom to know how to overcome and live intentional lives for His glory.