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Earthly Thorns that Trouble Us- 5- The Thorn of Distraction

Earthly Thorns That Trouble Us
Day 5- The Thorn of Distraction
Daniel Petterson

“I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.” (Psalm 119:15, ESV)


I think our cats are hilarious, because they get so easily distracted. They can be laser-focused on a toy, ready to pounce on it. But then, from another room comes a noise, and they zoom out to check on the noise. The noise ends up being nothing, so they chase each other all over the house instead. But during their charging pursuit of one another, one of them sees that toy again, and they’re back to being laser-focused on the toy. They’re all over the map, and it cracks me up time and time again.

But we’re not cats, so the issue of distraction isn’t humorous as it relates to our lives. Distractions have always been around, but it seems that with technological advances they have become more of a thorn. Just think of all we have to distract us today that nobody even had to think about 150 years ago. There were no televisions then, not even radios. Telephones weren’t invented yet, never mind cellphones. Organized national sports didn’t exist yet. Cameras were hardly even heard of. There were no computers, video games, internet, or social media. Now I’m sure there were other things that distracted people then, but I can’t help but think we are probably the most distracted generation in history. Our attention is diverted by the buzz of a cellphone, a new viral video, the pull of social media, and countless other things. Even as I type this article, I’m bombarded with distractions that keep me from finishing! We think about and meditate on useless details and fix our eyes on transient things. And so, yes, these distractions are, indeed, thorns. They are pervasive and not easily gotten rid of.

This verse in Psalm 119 gives us the path to defeat distractions and live a far more productive life, spiritually speaking. Is it any shock that the Psalmist basically tells us to be careful what we think about and what we look at? Those are typically the two main avenues through which distractions come.

First, there is the minefield of the mind. I call it a minefield for a reason. There are triggers all over the place in the recesses of our mind just waiting to be tripped. We may hear a song that reminds us of a time when we sinned, and our minds relive that moment (or maybe we think about falling again). We may be deep in prayer, but a word reminds us of something else and our minds then ping pong everywhere else but where we want them to be. We may be reading or studying the Bible, and we hear our phone buzz with a notification. At that point, everything in our mind is focused on figuring out what that notification is. There is something to be said for real times of meditation, a time of turning off and tuning out all distractions and spending that time truly meditating on the Lord. In our society today, that is getting more difficult to do; sometimes we meditate on something relatively worthless. The Psalmist is speaking of meditating on the Lord and His Word. If I can spend time meditating on Him and Him alone, it will certainly be time well spent.

The second distraction is what probably triggers our minds more than anything else: our eyes. The Psalmist says we need to fix or set our eyes on the Lord and His ways. We can’t fully control what our eyes see, of course. There are instances when images involuntarily come into view. But there are times we can control what we are seeing. We choose to watch what we watch. We choose to view the websites we view. We choose to read the books we read. When it comes to what I can control, I should be doing whatever I can to fix my eyes on good things—good words, good videos, and good pictures. Even when I try my very hardest, there will still be times I will fail. But what about if I don’t try at all? That’s when things can quickly get out of control. As is the case with the thorn of sin, distraction is an almost constant battle. Yes, it’s a difficult battle, but one we must faithfully fight.

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