2017-10-24 - Distractions
Originally Published 2012-07-31
The Word of God is alive and full of power, making it active, operative, energizing, and effective." (Hebrews 4:12, AMP)
One of the first things I do each morning is to check my e-mail. I receive several devotional e-mails each day, including this one. I usually read a couple of them first thing before I read anything else. Its not a big deal. I don't spend a lot of time or do a lot of "major" study or praying. I just know it is important to me to start my day with God's strength and perspective. It helps me feel more centered and grounded, as I deal with whatever comes up during the rest of the day.
This morning, while looking for my devotional e-mails, I saw that I'd received a self help e-newsletter I particularly like. It comes in once a week and is full of links to all kinds of interesting (usually brief) articles and blog posts. It covers pretty much anything having to do with mental health and relationships. Since I work as a counselor, I am interested in this type of material for both personal and professional reasons. Its reader-friendly, relevant, and practical. Articles are often "Five Ways To" this and "Seven Signs Of" that and "Ten Concepts You Should Focus on About" something or other. I find some of its content a little too simplistic, but I still enjoy it, and a lot of the ideas are good ones. Each individual piece can be read in fewer than five minutes, too.
Still, I usually don't have a problem passing by this newsletter, just like I pass over my e-mail book club reads, to get to the daily devotionals. These other reading materials are tempting, but they're predictable temptations, and I generally don't have any real difficulty putting them off until later. For some reason, though, when I saw it this morning, I immediately opened the PsychCentral newsletter and started reading the titles of the articles featured this week. I'm not sure why. I guess I just meant to take a quick peek at it and then close it.
That's not what happened, though. One article was on how to handle stress. I clicked on the article and read it. Another was about more productive thought patterns, so I clicked on that one and read it, too. Another was about effective communication, and I decided to go ahead and read that one. Next thing I knew, I had taken the time I usually use for devotional reading - and used it up on these self-help articles.
I was surprised, and a little bothered, by how easily I'd gotten distracted from my devotional e-mails. I'd spent my time on topics that, though they might be helpful, are not specifically related to spiritual nourishment. I realized I'd allowed myself to put this other reading ahead of my God-focused reading.
I don't think me reading those articles was wrong. Nothing in them was "bad." What I do think was wrong, was that I got sucked into that material and did not spend that time the way I knew I should have. I should have passed by that newsletter until after I completed my devotional readings, and should have come back to it later. Starting my day with pop psychology wasn't the same as starting my day with a Scripture passage and a Biblical principle to think about. It made it seem as though I think those readings were more important than devotional readings, because how we spend our time shows what we truly think is important. I don't believe that, so I need to structure my time differently, to reflect my priorities. I got distracted so easily.
What distracts you from focusing on God and His Word? Be especially aware of your weaknesses, and the things that are most likely to pull your focus away from the Lord during quiet times and in day-to-day life. Pray that God will help you to realize when you've gotten sidetracked, so that you can refocus. This experience was certainly a good reminder to me to do these things. I hope it is a good reminder for you, too.
Carmella (retired author)