A couple of weeks ago I was doing some travel across the country. We as a church are involved in a church plant in Quincey, MA, just south of Boston. As a result of our involvement, I am on their board and we had our first meeting a few weeks ago. I then had the privilege to fly from there to Phoenix to speak for one of my mentors and his church. That resulted in a lot of time in planes and airports. I have to say, planes and airports are great places to people watch and notice what our culture is really like. Here is what I have noticed…not just recently, but in the last decade…we are more and more distracted as a society. Nobody every looks up. We are all consumed with glowing screens and dinging devices. It is as if a mere five minutes of not being in the social media “know” will somehow make us feel as if we have missed something.
While in the Phoenix airport I found myself walking down those moving sidewalks. You know the one’s I’m talking about. They are like escalators only without the stairs. They make you feel as if you are moving at an incredible rate of speed even though you are walking at the same pace as normal. There are some basic rules on these moving floors. One, if you are not going to walk or are going to move slower stay to the right. Two, if you are needing to walk faster, walk to the left. Seems simple enough right? Not only that, but as you get to the end of the walkway a voice says these words, “The walkway is ending!!!” In fact, it says it three times before you actually have to get off of the gliding ground.
On this particular day, there was a young lady in front of me with her earbuds in and her head down. She was obviously enthralled in some sort of digital distraction. Apparently she was new to the world of moving floors. She did not understand the rules of stay to the right or the left. In fact, she had planted herself right in the middle of the walkway. She was not walking, she was just standing. As I approached from behind I simply said, “Excuse me.” I guess her Netflix Episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was too loud in her headphones so I said it again. Again…nothing!!! She was enthralled at whatever was staring back at her. She was living in her own little world and we were apparently all just revolving around it. At about this moment I heard the familiar voice that soothingly warned “The walkway is ending. The walkway is ending. The walkway is……!!!!”
Before he could get the word ending out of his digital mouth it happened. The girl in front of me did not hear that it was time to step off. The toes of her shoes hit the little metal ramp and launched her into the air. In that moment her face was met with the cold, white, tile floor beneath her. Her bags went flying and ironically her glowing device slid some 25 feet away from her. She lay there trying to figure out what had just happened. She was confused. How on earth did she get on the floor? Now what I am about to share I am not proud of. In fact, I wish I could tell you that I was a great pastor and an awesome Christian and that I stopped and helped her gather her belongings and extended a hand to help her up…like I said, I wish I could tell you that. Unfortunately, I had a very human moment with her. Without missing a beat, as I walked past her, I said, “Glad you were not driving a car, that would have been a lot worse.” I know, I know…was not one of my finer moments.
Here is the brutal reality, her distraction could have caused her a lot of damage and pain. All for the fact that she allowed herself to be distracted. Had she been looking up, had she heard the voice of the of the soothing warning man, had she simply paid attention, she would not be the story in a sermon or blog post. She would have saved herself embarrassment and shame. She would have been able to exit the airport with her dignity. But that was not the case, and it could have all been avoided by staying alert.
Honestly, most of us are no different than this girl. We wake up one day and we find ourselves laying on the floor of life trying to figure out how we got there. Our distractions are now scattered all over the floor and we are embarrassed and shamed. We are bruised and bloodied. We find ourselves wishing that we had simply stayed alert. Somehow we forgot that the walkway always comes to an end and we have to step onto something else. All this distraction has really led to our destruction. We are so distracted in our lives that we have become sitting ducks. Satan loves distracting us, because if he can distract us he kills our discipleship with Jesus. If he can convince us that there is just not enough time to follow Jesus he wins. In fact Satan’s greatest tool against us is….OURSELVES!!!
For most of us it is not like we are even distracted by bad things. Most the time they are disguised as good things. Kids games, projects at work, one more email, one more look at Facebook or Twitter, even serving in church can distract us from being focused on God (more on that in a later post). Most the time we are so consumed with doing the work of God’s Kingdom, that we miss the King right in front of us. Jesus if far more concerned with what we do WITH him than with what we do FOR him. If we never spend time with him, our work for him will never bear real fruit. If all I ever do is stuff for my daughters, but I never do anything with my daughters, then that relationship will be fractured and they will probably resent me. There is no way we can go deeper with each other if I am never with them. It is no different with Jesus. If we are never with him, then what we do for him is a moot point.
Don’t be so consumed with doing the work of God’s Kingdom that you miss the King right in front of you.Click to tweet
The greatest thing that Satan has tried to convince us of is that if we are busy we have value. Busy is not where we find value, being in relationship with Jesus is where we find value. When we find value in Christ, that is when we become fully functioning disciples that are alert and on mission. Today, they number one way we kill distraction by being with Jesus and being fully devoted to staying alert. So what about you? What is your greatest distraction from discipleship with Jesus.