mental distress or derangement; that which distracts,
divides the attention, or prevents concentration;
that which amuses, entertains, or diverts
I’ve had my fair share of distractions recently. Some of the distractions were unavoidable and/or the usual day-to-day stuff. Other distractions were like magnets drawing me in. Rather than fight off that magnetic pull, it’s just been easier to give in. Who wouldn't rather snuggle with a book on a cold, rainy day than reorganize a closet?
Distractions are inevitable. It’s a fork in the road which requires me to choose. Some choices are clear yet not always easy to make. For example, the kitchen clearly needs to be cleaned, but a favorite television show is about to air. On the other hand, some choices are not so clear. An example here might be choosing between helping a sick friend and spending the holiday with family. Who do you disappoint? In each example something or someone distracts from the original plan.
When the plan involves a commitment to another person (or to God), it’s even more difficult to contend with distractions. I’ve had that happen several times in recent months. I made a few commitments in spiritual matters but it wasn’t long before I was met with distractions. To be honest, the distractions were so subtle that I didn’t realize what was happening until I noticed a pattern. Dare I say these particular distractions were tests? Hmmm. Very possible.
For that man ought not to expect that he will receive
anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man,
unstable in all his ways (James 1:7-8).
Double-minded? That term sounds curiously like the definition of distraction: divides the attention. I heard this verse in church recently and after I saw it I realized that’s exactly what was happening to me. I’ve been giving these distractions a foot-hold in my life. Becoming aware of this issue has helped some. By no means have I conquered it. I'm still working on that one.
But, these distractions present an opportunity for me to make a choice. My attention can be divided for only so long before something suffers. If these distractions are tests, it gives me an opportunity to choose God's path. When I recognize these moments I can choose to ask God, What would you have me do here? It only takes a few seconds to ask that question. The easier thing to do is just move right ahead with what we want to do or with whatever is pulling at us harder. It’s a learning process. However, each time I make a choice to follow God's path, it strengthens my relationship with Him and strengthens my own faith.
If we go back and look at the context of this passage in James, we see that the chapter is about testing our faith. James says in verses 5 and 6,
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,
who gives to all generously and without reproach,
and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith
without any doubting, for the one who doubts
is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
God is ready to give me wisdom to make the right choices. And look! He is generous about giving wisdom. I just have to ask, with faith. (I just need to remember to do it! Hey, maybe I can actually get back to writing on this blog again.)