Thursday, April 17, 2008

Distractions

Nothing distracts me from my responsibilities more than computer problems. For the past couple of days, my Internet connection drops the signal. I can get online sometimes right away and sometimes after a try or two. I can post to my blogs, but may need a second attempt. However, I cannot post photographs. I can receive email, but cannot send it, or if I can, I cannot add attachments. Anything bigger than a normal transmission results in a “timeout” so uploading photos or attachments is interrupted and will not happen.

The experts can only say, “How odd” and give me a list of things to try, none of which have worked, so far. Today I’m going to purchase a new modem thinking that might be the problem.

All of this frustrates me. I have not been able to concentrate on normal chores never mind accomplish anything else. To top it off, I don’t know if my devotional reading today will be a comfort or another frustration.

The Scripture is 2 Timothy 2:3, but I read further. Verses 3-5 say, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Verses 1-2 are about teaching others what God has taught me. That is the most important task God gives me. I spend a few hours each week preparing for Sunday’s Bible study. Is all of this a test to see if I will stick to my priority? Or is it a plot to keep me from it? It could be both, or maybe just one of the “affairs of this life” that so easily entangles, and I need to untangle myself as quickly as possible.

After writing this, I read what the devotional had to say about those verses. It is from the book Ears from Harvested Sheaves by J. C. Philpot, and this writer certainly has a way of making me stop feeling sorry for myself.

He says, “We often get into states and frames of mind, where we need something else beside consolation. A child would not grow, if it were always fed upon sweetmeats. It must have exercise, and be exposed to the weather, and have the cold winds blow upon its face, and be hardened, so as to enable it to bear the chill winter and the nipping frosts. So the child of God is not always petted, and fed upon love-tokens.”

For the past few days, God has been reminding me how much He cares for me and protects me. I’m enjoying that, but now I read this. It seems as Philpot says, that I must learn lessons that help me be a better soldier, someone who can endure hardships without whining about my trials and troubles. Compared to some, computer problems are really not that huge.

Philpot says a solder must do things like lie all night on wet grass, be hungry and thirsty, cold and exhausted. Soldiers make long marches, hear roaring sounds including whistling bullets and human shouting. They see “the flash of the saber uplifted to cut him down, and the glitter of the bayonet at his breast” and may suffer painful wounds.

God’s soldiers also struggle. As Philpot says, some of us hunger and thirst, or suffer physical privations and calamities. All of us are shot at by the fiery darts of Satan as we make long marches into and through his territory. Only by these forays and trials do we learn to be God’s soldiers. No one learns the art of spiritual warfare unless exercised spiritually by fighting against the enemies of salvation.

As I think back over the past couple of weeks, my prayer life has become more intense. I’ve been challenged to pray in a more aggressive way for the souls of those who have ignored or rejected the grace of God. As I read Philpot and these Scriptures, perhaps it is not my Bible class teaching that my enemy wishes to put a stop to, but the praying.

Also, the part about not being entangled with the affairs of this life isn’t about hiring a cook, maid, gardener, or even a computer expert who can do all my chores for me. It is about being distracted from serving God by those things, or being distracted by the inconvenience of having to do them to the point that I forget why I am here. Ordinary stuff needs to be done, but not at the expense of that which has eternal consequences.

I’ve attention deficit problems and could blame that for my distractions, but I don’t think I am alone in my struggle with this kind of focus. From reading the warnings in Scripture, I suspect everyone who prays has the same or similar problems, ADD or not. I also realize that the answer is simple—it is in those two little words from verse 3 that are so easy to say and so difficult to do. I simply must “endure hardship” and (big sigh) keep on doing what God is telling me to do.

LATER: I phoned my ISP and the recording said customers in my city were not able to access the Internet... they were aware and working on it. It is not my problem. Whew! If this gets posted, it will be between hiccups!


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