Distraction: That which divides the attention or prevents concentration. Distractions are often things which provide some type of amusement or entertainment - taking away our focus. The idea of being distracted hits home whenever we have to put on the brakes too fast because we have been daydreaming, or at times when we find ourselves being asked for our opinion on what has just been said but have no idea what was actually said because we were miles off in la-la land! We all struggle with distractions - some of us worse than others. For some it is a relationship - the amount of time and effort we spend in the relationship actually deters us from being involved in things which are most important in our lives - things like time with God, attention to our family, etc. For others it is some form of media - taking away attention we should have been directing toward relationships, work which is piling up around the home, etc. There are innumerable ways to be distracted - so we must learn to manage our distractions as well as possible!
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)
Distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. This sentence tells us much, doesn't it? Focus was taken away by something which seemed important at the time, but which actually paled in comparison to what really deserved the attention. Preparations that had to be made - for some compelling reason, the preparations were more important - they weighed heavily on her mind and heart. There is much to be said about the things which distract our minds and hearts - for most of the battle with finding right focus is because of what convinces our minds it needs our attention more and plays on our hearts for its involvement.
I have read a couple of posts by friends recently, struggling with this time of year when kids go off to college, leaving home a little emptier than usual. What I hear behind their words is the intense feeling of loss - the void created by the "no longer present" son or daughter. I think most mothers deal with this "empty nest" thing at one time or another. What they are really saying is they no longer have the opportunity to just hang out with their kids - the quiet created by their absence is almost overwhelming. It tugs at the heartstrings and makes one a little melancholy. I think Jesus may have been giving us some advice on relationships when he spoke these words to Martha. He may not have been leaving Martha with an "empty nest", but I think he was speaking to the principle of enjoying today what may not be present with you tomorrow!
There are times I would rather come home at night and just veg-out. The day has been frustrating, the problems innumerable, and the tension created by deadlines tiring. I just don't want to talk anymore, certainly don't want to solve any problems, and cannot bear the thought of being purposeful in my actions! Yet, the moment I open the door, I am greeted by the one who will not always be with me - mom. As she is now well into her nineties, I have precious little time to enjoy her presence with me. Although it would be easier to just veg-out, there is something very important about hearing her tell about her day, telling her about mine, and then just sitting together on the couch. Many times we don't even have to say anything - we just have to be near each other. What I need to learn is the principle of putting aside distractions for the purpose of investing in what matters - what deserves my attention today because it will not always be with me.
God's presence is something we cultivate. When we choose to spend time with him, avoiding the pull of the many distractions which certainly tug at our minds and hearts, we find something which can never be taken away from us. Unlike the "natural" relationships we have enjoyed, the presence of God is something we can count on to never leave or forsake us! What we learn in our "natural" relationships is something we can take forward into our "spiritual" relationship with Jesus. It is like God gave us our "natural" connection with friends and family because he knew we needed to see and feel Jesus in others. It makes him more "real" to us. That moment of connection in the natural relationship is really assisting us in understanding the love, grace, and presence of God. So, but cultivating the "natural" relationships we have been given, we might just be learning how it is we are to connect with Jesus!
Whenever we lay aside the distractions of the moment, investing ourselves into the ones who fill our moments, we find the greatest reward possible. Just sayin!