Overcoming Earthly Distractions That Hold Us In Bondage
The LED lights flickered against the black sky and the moon in its natural beauty dissipated from our minds. Our group looked on in gaping awe at the street around us. The Las Vegas strip. Feathers, signs, people, yelling, music, and it overwhelmed. My mind broke down in dumb wonder. For a second, I forgot all of who I was, because all my mind could concentrate on were the lights. For a moment in time, the lights alone existed.
The same overwhelming feeling starts to grab at me when I scroll through my phone in the morning. For a second, I am distracted. The truth is, that same overwhelming wonder tugs at me from sun up to sun down.
Distraction is a word that gets thrown a lot in our culture. We are told we are distracted by our phones, we are distracted by the media, we are distracted by advertisements. But, what are we being distracted from?The argument would say productivity, family, or work. I think this is true, but I think there is a bigger answer also.
We can’t limit distraction to only the things screaming in our face, because there are things that we can’t see that are screaming for our attention as loudly as the rest.
When I was in high school, my family went through some heavy medical trauma. A brain surgery, to be specific. I remember drowning under the responsibilities that piled on my shoulders, and I didn’t want to deal with them. I found myself lost in a sea of Netflix and novels, staring that the blinking lights, hoping one day I’d look up and win the proverbial lottery.
Distractions are not something to joke about on a T-shirt. There is something much fiercer and darker at work when we let ourselves be dragged into the undertow of these things clutching for our attention span.
Before you raise a cry of defense for your favorite shows, hear me out. It’s not the distractions themselves that I am calling out. I want to talk about what drives us to indulge in them.
Lay down your phone or laptop and grab a Bible. Not an electronic Bible, but a real Bible if you have one.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joabout with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” - 2 Samuel 11:1-3
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.” -Judges 16:4-6
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 1 Kings 11:1-2
In each of these passages, we watch a prominent leader of Israel fall off their game (or begin down that road) because they let themselves be distracted. They forgot their purpose, they forgot who they were concentrated on, and it took something from them. David and Bathsheba are the couple synonymous with adultery, Samson lost his strength, and Solomon drifted from God and led Israel into idolatry.
Distraction is the quickest way for our enemy, the devil, to snag our attention. Our guards are down, or we are looking for trouble, and he throws us a little bait. Look at the beautiful woman bathing. You can have this woman as your mistress, don’t mind the fact she’s a Philistine. Does it matter if they worship God or not? You’re the wisest King of Israel, you deserve the best.
One more episode, you’ve had a hard day.
Look at this fun event, you don’t need to spend time with God.
Keep shopping, it’s fun, and you don’t have to think about your family.
Sleep with him, it’s just sex, you deserve it.
Whenever you try to turn away, that nagging voice is right there. “No, keep looking over here!” At some point, it stops feeling like a fun diversion and starts to feel like bondage. Distraction ropes us in and drags us down. I have watched Christians have their whole lives be skewed sideways because of a distraction they let take over their life. We think we can quit any time - that it’s harmless. Or we’ll label it as self-care and justify that everyone else does it and it doesn’t impact them negatively. Yet, how many times did you turn to the TV instead of the Bible? Social media instead of the Word? How many times did I say I’d quit going to that when I’m lonely, bored or stressed and turn to Jesus instead, only to go right back to the distractions that have become like a well-worn blanket of comfort?
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. -Psalm 101:3
Some of our distractions are preventing us from seeing the fear, self-pity, pride, envy, bitterness, distrust growing up in our hearts. Before we know it, the rug is pulled underneath our feet because we weren’t checking ourselves. We are told it’s okay to be distracted. “Live a little!” They call to us. Yet, we have a greater call to step out of this model of distracted living that the world around us endorses.
Because the Bible models a different lifestyle:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:1-3
What are we being distracted from? Our relationship with Jesus, and the race He has marked out for us to complete.
We must take a stand against the distractions of this age and focus our eyes on Jesus. Everything else falls meaningless if we are not fixed on him. The leading question from that is: how? How do we start to walk away? How do we choose focus over flimsy?
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. -Psalm 119:15
It starts with quiet time before the Lord. Pull out your Bible and a journal, take three deep breaths and start with this prayer, “Lord, speak to me through your Word and capture my mind. Father, I’m sorry for letting the world steal away my attention and for all the time I spent on [insert distraction(s)]. Give me a desire to want and love You more than [insert distraction(s)]. Please be my strength to choose You over [distractions] the next time [insert trigger that drives you to distractions (i.e., when I’m stressed / hurting / bored / lonely].”
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. -1 Corinthians 10:13
He will, and you’ll find that the world around you starts to grow dim in your eyes. You’ll find it easier to see around the false glimmer and shiny. So, don’t let the flashing lights fool you. There is much more to your life than they are trying to sell.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amelia Sanders loves sunflowers, words, old hardcover books, and fountain pens. She adores Jesus Christ, and seeks to listen and obey him in her life. Her life verse is Isaiah 52:7, and her prayer is for every girl to grasp the height, weight, depth, width, and power of Christ's love for them.