January 15, 2013

Overcoming daily distractions

Today’s devotional reading outlines how the daily stuff of life has “separating power” meaning that today’s events and duties can blind me to the greater realities that God has revealed to me. This is evident in how quickly morning devotional truths are swallowed up by my to-do list, callers, email, interruptions and responsibilities. Even before lunch, I may strain to remember words of the Lord pondered only a few hours earlier, words like these:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)

Notice the mention here of “things present” which ties to the idea of the separating power of daily life. First, the events of today are immediate, keeping my mind, eyes and energy busy with their demands. The devotional says to take a moment to say or sing “Jesus loves me…” but that needs to be a habit. A missionary from North Africa, who discipled my sister years ago, said that learning to meditate on the Word of God would take a lifetime. 

Secondly, things present are often difficult to understand. Distance helps me with the events of yesterday, last week, last month, and past years. As the author of today’s devotional says, understanding our past, its trials, its disappointments, and its illnesses are difficult in their actual moment. This difficulty of seeing the love of God in the darkness of present trials gives them separating power. How important to know that God loves me when life takes a leap into darkness!

Third, and for me the biggest challenge, is the distraction of things present. “Life isn’t a little bundle of big things: it’s a big bundle of little things.” I want to pray but walk past something that needs to be put in another place. Instead of focusing on prayer, I’m distracted and do that little chore. In the process, other distractions consume minutes, even hours. Instead of peace, joy, self-control and serenity marking my day, the sense of God’s love begins to slip through my grasp.

Jesus did it right. He never doubted the love of God, not in Gethsemane, nor those days when demands were so great that there was no leisure to even eat. He mastered that separating power of things present, and He did it for us, for me.

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:32–33)

In Him, I also have the assurance of God’s eternal presence and the promise of peace in a troubled world. As that missionary said, it does take a lifetime to appropriate the victories of Christ and learn to live with that assurance firmly fixed in my heart. 

Yet God is faithful with His reminders, sometimes even surprising me. My bathroom has tiles that look like sand on a beach. After reading the devotional and its verses, I went there and noticed one of the tiles has a tiny shape nestled in its “tide line” — the shape of a heart. Did He put it there? Maybe. Nonetheless, every time I see it, it will remind me that “Jesus loves me” rather than letting that important reality be bumped out of mind by daily life. 

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