I am prone to distraction. Such is frequently observed by my family every time I attempt to walk past the television. How about you? Distraction is embedded into the very fabric of our culture. Google, video games, cable television, bill boards, commercials, and myriad other sights and sounds daily call for our time and attention. Our economy even depends on it. Every day, businesses and institutions vie for our interest in buying their goods and services… each one trying to convince us we need what they have. Sadly, we’ve become so used to the noise, we rarely even recognize what we’ve lost.
Our modern technologies and conveniences generally make life easier and more enjoyable—super stores, mega malls, computers, smart phones, tablets, and the internet. Unfortunately, we often become so dependent on these things we barely notice how uncomfortable we become in their absence, how awkward with silence, and how quickly bored without them. I’m not saying any of these things are necessarily bad… in fact most are helpful and important for success in modern twenty-first century life. Yet, there is wisdom in the advice to not let the “good” become the enemy of the “best.”
Our culture of technology and access is a blessing but we must not allow it to command our hearts and time. Jesus taught that where our treasure is, there also will be our heart (Matthew 6:21). An assessment of how and where we spend our time, money, and attention will quickly reveal our treasure. If we spend most our minutes distracted by the cultural novelties of our day, we have little time and heart left for prayer and worship—without which a dynamic faith cannot grow. And so, the good becomes the enemy of the best.
I used to crave times of solitude and silence because there I found contentment and peace in prayer. Waiting on God in quiet times and private places was a regular part of my life. Yet, as I’ve grown older, though I still yearn for sacred space and holy stillness heavy with God’s presence, I struggle to stay focused in prayer and hungry for its regular practice. How about you?
Where do we go from here? Baby steps. If we can only pray for one minute free of distraction, we do it. Then we do it again tomorrow and the next day. Soon we are not only praying longer but we’re actually enjoying it. If we continue this discipline, eventually we won’t be able to imagine our lives any other way. This now brings us back to our ongoing theme of holy desperation—unless we are desperate for God we usually won’t see the value of such steps or need to overcome lifestyles of distraction. Next week, we talk about a timeless biblical teaching addressing the challenge of distraction—Sabbath.
What Do You Think?
Do you have a lifestyle of distraction? How does it affect your faith? What “baby steps” might help you discover your own quiet place?