J. Ellsworth Kalas, in his book entitled Preaching in an Age of Distraction (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014), leads us to think about how the various distractions in our lives affect our ability to think well, and more importantly, to think about great things. The following quote is a bit long, but I encourage you to read it carefully.
“How does such a daily culture [of constant distraction] affect our sensitivity to issues that are eternal? Do we spend so much emotional and spiritual energy on material choices that we have neither the time nor the inclination to focus our souls on the kingdom that fadeth not?
“The apostle urged first-century believers, ‘From now on, brothers and sisters, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise’ (Phil 4:8). If the foods that feed our bodies influence our physical health, certainly the ideas and impressions that crowd their way into our minds help shape and determine our intellectual, emotional and spiritual welfare. That’s why we need so badly to focus our thoughts, because otherwise they will be lost in a maze of spiritual waste” (Kalas, 26).
What a moving final phrase. Not all distractions are bad, but at some point distractions become destructive. At some point, distractions cause us to “be lost in a maze of spiritual waste.” I take that phrase seriously, and I for one don’t want to find myself trapped in such a maze. The glory of God is too beautiful and the work of God is too serious to allow that to happen.
So how do we avoid the maze? How do we escape it when we find ourselves trapped in it? I think the answer is simple, even if the process is hard. By the grace of God in Christ, we force our eyes to turn toward Christ and we fix them there. We read our Bibles carefully and prayerfully. We contemplate the words and ways of our God and Father. We converse about such things with those who love Jesus. We seek to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We sing praise to God and otherwise express our affections for him. As we engage in such things, our hearts are more and more turned toward Christ and we find ourselves freer and freer from the maze of spiritual waste.
The difficulty is not in understanding these things; the difficulty is in living them. May the Lord grant us grace to seek his face, and to be released from the maze all the days of our lives.