“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. The LORD hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged; and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the LORD directeth his steps. A just weight and balance are the LORD’S; all the weights of the bag are his work. The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.” (Proverbs 16:2-9,11,17)
Distraction is the first stage of attack. Satan distracts us with something desirable or fearful, whichever he thinks will be most likely take our eyes off God. Today my biggest distraction was my daughter's travel plans, or lack thereof.
Besides the main attraction distraction, satan mixes in some smaller ones to ensure that we look away from God. There are always "fires" to put out in our busy lives. Today my smaller distractions were delivery people at the wrong house, pets getting on my nerves being needy, and appliances not working as I needed them to. Simple things satan uses to frustrate and overwhelm. He also uses good things we are happy to focus on. Anything to get our focus off God. If we aren't focused on God, we won't accomplish our God-ordained tasks for the day.
Yesterday the bag of distractions was a different mix, but the purpose was the same: to prevent God’s truth and love from being shared in my life in the best way possible. Recognizing and properly handling distractions is essential to staying on track. Sometimes it can be confusing to identify a distraction versus an opportunity to share God’s truth and love. It's amazing how our discernment directly correlates to our focus on God.
There are two sides to every coin. Distractions are the first stage of attack in which satan wants to start our downward spiral to end utterly defeated; however, they are also opportunities to react, opportunities to make choices, so we can think of them as training maneuvers. As the above scripture informs, “all the weights of the bag are [God’s] work.” God allows the distractions in order for us to train and strengthen our focus despite them. How well can an untrained soldier fight?
Satan is going to throw distraction after distraction our way in a nonstop attempt to divert our attention. Understanding this, we can be on guard to best handle these attacks. With each right choice maneuvering the battlefield, we become more apt to recognize distractions and make the right choice to stay focused.
Staying focused is crucial to staying alive. When a soldier is distracted on the battlefield, he or she is already on the way to defeat. Often for individual soldiers, this means losing the ability to continue defending one’s self and friendly forces. It can mean a loss of life or limb or can mean becoming a prisoner of war.
Staying focused on God is crucial to a person’s spiritual and other successes. We commit our thoughts, desires, plans, and actions to God, and He establishes our thoughts and orders our steps (Proverbs 16:3). God’s Word forewarns us to stay alert: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). All it takes is a simple yet effective, personally-directed distraction to knock us off guard. Satan never sends a distraction as a single attack. He uses the distraction to thwart our focus in order to engage us in a secondary attack.
By staying focused on God, we yield satan's attempts futile. Isaiah 26:3 became my motto verse when my grandmother was sick and passing from this life; “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee” (emphasis added). The only way for me to keep steady was to remain focused on God. That is not to say that I didn’t mourn the death of my grandmother as I missed her greatly; we were extremely close kindred spirits. But I did not let her passing nor anything else take my eyes off God because I recognized how much I needed His presence in my grandmother's absence. He is our eternal, unchanging, perfect source of strength, hope, wisdom, and encouragement. Many times I have recited Isaiah 26:3 to myself and as a result have been strengthened to stay focused and not fall to satan’s attacks.
Once distracted, then wounded. Once wounded, then an easier target. I don’t want to be an easy target for satan. I don’t want to be a challenge he enjoys attacking either. Like most of us, I just wish satan would forget that I exist. But that will never happen. As long as we are alive, satan will continue to throw distractions our way to knock us off center. He doesn’t care about us; it’s not personal. However, he knows that if he can knock us off our focus, we won’t be effective for Christ, his true enemy and our only hope. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).