Distracted for Worship
For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. I Peter 2:25 (NASB)
It was a gift: a vintage motorcycle with just over 20,000 miles. I couldn’t believe it. Those that saw it were amazed at the great condition it was in after 32 years. I was excited to ride, excited to get out on the open road.
But within the week, this vintage bike succumbed to what any machine this old would face – a breakdown in the electrical system. It’s inevitable. Over the years the insulation deteriorates, the connections rust, and finally the electric circuits cease to function.
And so it began – taking off parts and searching for the problem. Looking for parts (which are not so easy to find due to the age of the bike). Ordering the parts and waiting. Hotwiring the bike so I could ride while I waited for the parts. Tinkering, polishing, reading manuals…
Then it hit me. My life had been altered by this motorcycle. I woke up in the morning thinking about it. I worked on it whenever I had the chance. I ignored other responsibilities to ride or repair it. I gave my kids jobs polishing chrome and fetching tools. I drifted off to sleep thinking of what I could do the next day. Frankly, I was distracted.
Distraction is a normal part of our human condition, and I began to think this through, not only in relation to this event, but also other times when something or someone distracted me from the routines of life and responsibility. Maybe you’ve had this happen: a new song, a new instrument, a new baby, a difficult situation at work or church that consumes you, and a myriad of other possibilities. Why does this happen? What do we do about it? When we are distracted, how do we recover?
There seems to me to be basically two overall points to consider. The first may seem obvious, but is worth repeating. When we notice our distraction, we must discipline ourselves to return to the priorities that we had previously set for our lives. Of course, that assumes you have set overall life priorities and are living a life that is more than just moving from distraction to distraction. The overall set of priorities from a biblical viewpoint is, in order: 1) our relationship with God through Christ; 2) our family relationships, and; 3) everything else (work, church, motorcycles…). Reminding ourselves of this three-fold priority system will help break the hold our new distraction might have on us, our time and our energy. Returning to a daily time with Scripture and in prayer, engaging our families in conversation and listening to their thoughts are the first points of re-establishing the right life priorities for each day.
The second overall point about distractions might be a new thought for some. There seems to be a real sense that sometimes distractions are God-given. I don’t mean by this that God tempts us through a distraction, but rather that He is placing a sort of “circuit breaker” in our lives. These distractions might be gifts that jar us from complacency, or give us a much-needed break from a weight of responsibility. The distraction, in fact, may be meant to pull us away from our routine. In this way, God gives us opportunity to reconsider our priorities and recommit to them. He graciously gives us time to recover from overbearing obligations and concerns that have dragged us down. And His intention in this is growth – deeper commitments, new focus, new energy.
So whether it is a bike, a boat, a new instrument, or whatever – allow the distraction to be an opportunity for growth. Enjoy it, put it in perspective, and live life fully in the grace of God.
Father, thank you for loving us enough to distract us and give us rest. In our busy lives, Lord, we appreciate the rest you give to our minds, our hearts, our bodies and our souls. May these distractions in our lives be used for Your purposes and for Your glory. Amen.