No matter how long we have journeyed with God or how much we understand that turning to Him and trusting Him in the midst of our lives is the best thing we can possibly do, we can still get distracted. We can still turn in so many directions instead of into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
How do we stay focused? Take time to pause and truly think about the privilege the Lord has given you to follow Him. I began my journey serving God when I was barely 17. Now, being a little older, I look back, and even though it has never been easy, I am grateful that I could give my life for the Lord and touch so many lives.
What better thing could we do with our lives than to follow the Lord?
It is a difficult journey, and the Bible has never told us it would be anything else. By the time you finish reading 2 Corinthians, Paul’s extremely personal letter, you think, “Oh my goodness, this is absolutely unbelievable! The beatings, the sufferings, the stoning, the hunger and nakedness and shipwreck and being misunderstood and forsaken . . .”
But then he basically says, “Oh, they are nothing.” He makes that statement after he has paused, been silent and meditated on what is to come: when he will enter into eternity where there is no time.
So what made all the difference for Paul? It was that he focused on what is to come. Heaven is not heaven because of the gold and diamonds. No, heaven is heaven because of Jesus. And that’s what we are looking forward to.
What Kind of Distractions Do We Face?
There are a million things that can distract us. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress talks about many things that shift our focus and make us weak and feeble so that we want to give up.
One of the main distractions we face is fear of the unknown. “Who am I going to marry?” “How am I going to get money?” “Many of my friends have fallen back into the ways of the world. How am I going to make it?”
Listen: We are called to hope and trust in God. He will go before us. We shouldn’t put our focus on or dwell on the unknown. The enemy will use that. But if you fear God and know He is sovereign, nothing will destroy you.
Second, if we are not careful, we can become preoccupied with the cares of this life. As Jesus talked about in Matthew 13, in this race, all of a sudden, you can become concerned about comfort and ease and material things, especially when people are asking you, “What about your future? What about this college degree?” If that happens, talk to them about people who lived 100 years ago. They made the money and did all the things people talk about, and what happened to them? They are under the ground, and they didn’t take one penny with them. We need to be careful. Jesus warned us that the cares of this life will destroy our hearts.
And the third thing I would say to be careful of is introspection. One of the devil’s main strategies is to make people preoccupied with themselves. Even when you are doing well, you can look inside and see the hypocrisy, the lack of reality, and you blame yourself. That’s how the devil works; he is the accuser of the brethren.
Introspection is like quicksand: The more you struggle with yourself, the faster you go down.
Avoid Getting Trapped in Introspection
Peter failed miserably when he denied Jesus. He had every reason to look inside himself and despair. The only reason he made it through was that he met Jesus on the seashore. Jesus didn’t ask, “Peter, why did you do all that?” No, Jesus never asked one question about it. What helps us overcome getting caught up in ourselves is knowing that Jesus loves us.
I mean, who among us doesn’t have sin or discouragement? Who among us doesn’t fail? There are a million things we don’t want to let anybody know about us, but He knows them all. And He is not discouraged about us—you need to know that.
He will fight for you till the very last second of your life so you will make it. When you are down, He will carry you. When you don’t know what to do, He will shine the light brighter for you to see it. Sometimes it’s through a song or an email or a book or something, so don’t focus on yourself. Take one look at self and ten looks at Jesus.
Practical Steps to Take
We can and we should make a decision to say, “No matter what, I’ll never give up because Jesus is real. No matter what He says or where He sends me, that’s what I’m going to be and that’s what I’m going to do. No matter what happens, I will turn to You first.”
Actively keep turning to Him. Make a practice throughout the day to look to Him. Because we are humans and we easily become preoccupied, it is good to have a few minutes in the middle of the morning to stop and pray and read a couple of verses. Then at noon and in the evening, do the same thing. That will help us be in the practice of turning our hearts to the Lord. Watch out for distractions. And most importantly, leave everything in the Lord’s hands and trust Him.
He promised us in Philippians 1:6 that He who began a good work in us would complete it. And He will.