“Everyone needs a vice,” my friend told me some years ago. His was finding and restoring old Volkswagen Beetles.
The truth to his statement is that the human condition invariably includes a bad habit or two. While there’s nothing inherently immoral about my friend’s hobby, the statement gives rise to the larger concern of one’s focus in the course of a day, week and month.
We might get to know someone better by asking, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” Answers to this question often provide insight into one’s pastimes, passions and expertise. A professional auto mechanic, for example, might find relaxation by building and selling scale model railroad sets. A medieval history buff could spend evenings and weekends reading a particular author of historical novels whose far-flung references require a companion book to understand their meaning.
While none of this constitutes evil, consider the importance of what may distract you from your purpose for existence and the responsibilities that come with it. If our very being depends upon the Lord, we need to clarify how much time, energy and effort we should dedicate to the single most important relationship we can have in this lifetime and the next.
In the context of our relationship with the Lord, anything we put in line ahead of God could be considered another god. We know that when we love, care for and serve others, we’re also loving and serving God, so those actions at work and at home are mostly appropriate. When we address them to the exclusion of time specifically set aside to pray and strengthen our love relationship with God, we’ve put something or someone ahead of God.
Here is where one of life’s absolutes comes into play. If we’re not actively serving God directly or through His people, if we’re not obeying Him at this very moment, then we are serving something else or disobeying. Anything we do that doesn’t glorify God instead glorifies someone or something other than God. Since God is the creator of all that is good and the author of all life, we owe Him everything. Any distraction from our dedication to God is merely a euphemism for disobedience.
Keeping eyes on the prize
Here are some tips I’ve learned to help God be in first position in our lives and put distractions exactly where they belong:
Look for a word from God—Ask and expect God to speak to you and tell you whether something you’re considering is what He would have you do. When you spend quiet time with God in a relationship, He speaks through the study of His Word, through prayer and through His people who are likewise walking closely with Him.
A friend recently invited me to consider a business opportunity. The following morning my regular reading of Psalms included a word to be still and wait on God. That was all I needed to know and declined the invitation, thanking my friend for thinking of me and wishing him the best.
Spend time with others in close relationship with God—It’s so easy to be thrown off course when you’re out of fellowship with others who are intent upon walking more closely and obediently with God. In fact, when you’re going it alone, you become easy prey for worldly influences. Find both the time and the opportunity for regular meetings or discussion with Godly women and men. It’s one more way that God shows His love and mercy for us and provides wise guidance.
Pray for spiritual direction—God delivers guidance in many ways, from a spiritual mentor who is happy to take every call and meet with you to discuss challenging and difficult decisions and situations to a small group that openly addresses such concerns with discussion and prayer.
Wait on the Lord—God knows exactly what you need and when you need it. He rewards your patience in the midst of adversity and suffering if you’ll just wait for Him. It’s when you feel you have to take matters into your own hands and out of His mighty hand that you really get yourself into trouble.
Walk around the pits and potholes of this earthly life by keeping your eye firmly on God and His will. As you dodge the daily distractions and focus on what’s really important, your perspective will change and you’ll prefer the eternal gaze over a worldly haze.
Carroll is a consultant and entrepreneur based in Mount Pleasant. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.