Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Less Distraction in a Distracted World

Hello everyone! I hope you have been good. :)

I've been...what's the word for being in the middle of a seven things and feeling lost?


Oh yes. There's so much going on these days! I mean, spring has sprung and summer is approaching! My younger sister recently got engaged. Changes with work. Changes with family. Changes with life! I can't even log onto the internet without opening up Facebook, Amazon, and at least two of my e-mail accounts.

I'm going to be totally honest with you guys. Reading my Bible lately has been hard. My mind has been all over the place. Poor God and my Bible time have been getting pushed back, pushed back again, and sometimes forgotten in the wake of a crazy day.

I just hate that. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only Christian who has this problem, but I know that's not true. When life is this crazy, it's hard to focus on the message God's trying to get into my multi-divided brain.

But I have good news! I have the key to being less distracted in a distracted world. Yes. Really. The Key. Captial T. Captial K. And I'm going to tell you what it is.

First, I want to share a Bible story with you guys. This story is about King Joash and Elisha, and whenever I read this now, all I can see are distractions. Not my thousand plus distractions. The distractions distracting King Josah.

But you'll see what I mean.

"Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, 'My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!'
And Elisha said to him, 'Take a bow and arrows.' So he took a bow and arrows.
Then he said to the king of Israel, 'Draw the bow,' and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, 'Open the window eastward,' and he opened it. Then Elisha said, 'Shoot,' and he shot. And he said, 'The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.'
And he said, 'Take the arrows,' and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, 'Strike the ground with them.' And he struck three times and stopped.
Then the man of God was angry with him and said, 'You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.'

2 Kings 13:14-19  (ESV)

Recently at youth group, I had the opportunity to share this story about Joash and Elisha. Before you guys think that I'm a crazy youth leader, I learned every trick I know from my youth pastor/aunt. ;) Something that I am quite proud and honored to say.

So, I ask for four volunteers, and a bunch of hands fly up. I call four girls to the front who I know will work nicely for this particular torture activity. I tell one girl to walk around the room, and not to stop until I say. Another girl was told to jump up and down continuously in the middle in the aisle in between the chairs. Right in the middle of where the remaining kids are sitting. I instructed another girl to stand in one corner and hit the floor over and over again with some rubber arrows I have leftover from the Palmer Nerf Christmas War of 2014. The last girl was sent to the opposite corner and had to say, "La! La! La! La," over and over again. This girl is perfectly loud, by the way.

Hehehe. The kids may act like I'm crazy, but they're the ones who volunteer. :)

I told the rest of the kids that their job was to listen to me read this story about King Joash and Elisha. Afterwards, I asked the group what they heard. Of course they heard nothing (That was kind of the point.). One young lady said she heard something about arrows. Most of the group heard absolutely nothing. When I questioned them why, one kid simply said, "Well, we were all distracted."

She didn't realize the truth nugget she had just unearthed.

Just like King Joash, we are all distracted. So, so, so distracted. It's crazy just how distracted we are. Joash was clearly very upset about Elisha passing away. His heart and his mind were focused on that, rather then on the last message from God that Elisha was trying to deliver. Then you have Elisha - the one who's dying - who is solely focused on trying to deliver this awesome message to Joash before he dies. Elisha is trying, but Joash wasn't getting it. I mean, you can't really blame the guy. Death is hard, but Joash couldn't see past that long enough to get the message from God. He went along with the shooting the arrow out the window, and he did hit the ground with the arrows three times, but his heart was not in it. He was distracted.

I can relate to Joash. If I was in his situation, I probably would have done the same thing. I told you I learned all my crazy tricks from my youth pastor aunt. Back when I was in youth group, and she told to do something crazy, I was never the kid who did it without ceasing. I didn't raise my hand like the kids I teach do. I would try my best to avoid eye contact, but not so much that it was obvious because avoiding eye contact was a sure way to get picked! When it came to group craziness, I was the one who stood awkwardly to the side, doing just enough. If I had been Joash, I probably would have done the same thing. One, two, maybe three strikes before I would have felt completely ridiculous. I would have said, "Can I stop now?" Yup, three would have been the max before my pride screamed uncle. I was a geek and a nerd in school, but I was vain enough to care that I looked ridiculous.

I was distracted. I was focused on how I might look. On how the people around me might perceive my actions. On the people who were doing this wholeheartedly, and the people who completely refused. But just like Joash, I was too distracted to pay attention to the message God was trying to get to me. Joash was focused on the physical. Elisha. Death. The ridiculous thing he had to do. He was not focused on God. There are a lot of distractions in our world. We can be distracted about how silly we look jumping and dancing when we worship. We can be distracted by hard situations in our lives. We can be distracted by trying to put food on the table. We can even be distracted by good things. Boyfriends/girlfriends. Husbands/wives. Kids. Movies. Books. TV. Music. Those are not bad things, but sometimes they take more precedent over God. I know I can plead guilty to reading my Bible while watching TV on more then one occasion. Now, whenever I read this section of Scripture, all I see are the distractions from God. The natural, everyday distractions that the enemy took and used to lure Joash's mind away from the message at hand.

If Joash had been more focused on God's message, then maybe he would have kept striking the ground. Think about it, if he had been into it, he would have hit the ground seven, eight, nine times easy. Without even thinking about it. Elisha said if only Joash had kept striking the ground, then they would have rid themselves of Syria forever, but instead they would only kind of flick the Syrians. His focus was set on earthly things.

God's words may come to us at inconvenient times   it certainly did for Joash   but we need to be so set on God, that we are able to hear Him speak at any time. Look past everything, and look forward to God.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:31-34

"For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5

"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." Proverbs 4:25

My friends, that crazy message God's given you, that insane desire He's placed in your heart, the impossible task He's given you has a purpose. If we will keep our minds set on Him, then when His word comes to us, it won't seem inconvenient or too difficult. Look forward and straight to God so that the other stuff flies by you. Keep your mind set on Him! That's when the awesome God stuff starts to happen. That's when lives are changed, people are saved, and victory is won!

And that, my friends, is how you are less distracted in a distracted world.

I hope you all have an awesome end of May. I will see you again on June 1st!

V. Joy Palmer

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