Distractions must be high on God’s list for me recently. It occurred to me as I sat down to write this post that we just discussed this a few days ago, but I pray it will encourage you as it did me.
Three-year-olds get distracted. Easily. Rebekah even more than normal. At least it feels that way to this weary, 40-year-old mom who also has a teenager. And by the time we as a family make it to church on Sunday mornings, get through Sunday school, and finish worship service, getting home for lunch and a nap is a welcome relief.
I can hear it now: ”I can’t believe she just said that. Church is supposed to be joyful and refreshing!”
Yes, it is. And I am not saying it does me no good, believe me. But in this particular season of life, church can be exhausting.
However, I digress…
On this one particular sunny, spring Sunday morning, we arrived back home from church, got out of the car, and made the trek up our steep basement stairs (exhausting in itself). Rebekah climbed about two stairs, stopped to see some small spot somewhere or other.
”Keep going, Bekah.” A couple more stairs.
”Mommy, can I ask you a question?”
”Sure Bekah, but keep going please.”
”Well….” One more step. And then she proceeds to tell a story about her invisible friend. Not a question.
”Bekah, please keep walking up the stairs. Mama’s arms are full.”
We finally reach the top — Rebekah ready to take on the world, and me, needing a two-week recovery for my body and soul. (If you had these stairs, you would understand.)
The last time I told her to ”keep walking,” I was reminded ever so gently once again of God’s word. Life is tiring. These bodies are failing (mine faster than I dreamed possible), schedules never stop, prices keep rising, people are losing their minds. Some days I just want to run away and hide. Get away from it all. Nothing to do but sleep, read, focus on important things like my relationship with the Lord. Why is it there never seems to be enough time or strength to do it all?
The apostle Paul was probably in some of the worst circumstances we could ever imagine: beaten, jailed, left for dead, and more. Yet he chose to continue doing what God had called him to do. Even in prison, he continued to write and tell others about God and how Jesus had changed his life. And his ultimate goal?
”I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, KJV)
”Press.” Not just amble along, maybe I will get there one day. Not a hurry up with no care about the wake I leave behind me. “Press” — a steady, consistent, even movement intended to produce results. Paul’s movement was in a forward direction — not a distracted, sideways detour on an errand that would leave him out of breath and unable to finish well. Not pausing to look back at the ground already covered, but forward.
And not only forward, but ”toward” something. Not aimlessly but with a goal in his sights. The prize? Not a medal or crowns — although he probably got some! The prize Paul looked forward to the most was the Lord Jesus Himself saying ”well done”.
But how difficult it must have been some days, looking at those wet, musty cell walls, chained to yet another guard, wondering if anyone remembered he was there. Difficult to “keep walking”, ”keep going”. Distractions, minds run amuck.
Don’t we often become like Rebekah and me, distracted and tired, just wanting to get to the end or sit down and be done? Yet Paul reminds us not to be weary, to keep the goal in mind: ”Press toward the mark.”
Our calling is a ”high” one, if we are God’s child, to serve Him in whatever capacity He sees fit, wherever He places us and when. Slow and steady. ”Keep walking.”
Am I making progress? Am I moving from distraction to distraction with no fruit to show? Am I so tired that Jesus is calling me to rest in Him? To focus on Him, to move toward Him, and remove the distractions?
You see, when we remove the distractions, when we get back to business, that is when our race is most successful. In light of eternity, all those things we think we need, those things we think are so important, those feelings we are afraid to hurt, those precious minutes we stress to schedule…they are nothing if we don’t reach a dying world around us for Christ. If our families are torn to shreds. If we are out of fellowship with Him.
Nothing else matters in the end.
”Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, KJV)