In this military life we have many things competing for our attention– family, jobs, health, deployments, schools, moves, and ____, and ____, and _____. You fill in the blanks for the details that fill our your days. Life in the military community can get complicated.
With competing and compelling demands on our time, energy and attention, it’s all to easy for our spiritual attention to be distracted by overloaded schedules, family needs, and operational requirements.
In the midst of the fray, do you ever feel like you just might have spiritual ADD? Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder?
Distractions often keep us from focusing on God. Our minds wander. We wonder why our relationship with God feels distant.
For so long, I thought time with God had to be a certain way with a specific time and formula. It had to be quiet, with everything else stopped and put away. Too often, that quiet didn’t come. The everything-put-away rarely happens.
- And I felt guilty.
- I felt lacking and displeasing to God.
- I felt like a spiritual failure, as if God was depending on me to do everything just so.
I teach Sunday school for teens. Most of them read the Bible on their phones. Nothing wrong with that; it’s so easy to begin with a good intention of focusing on God. And then just a quick look at texts, email, or FB messages. It is not only teens that struggle to develop spiritual concentration. Right?
Are we the most distracted generation?
Quite possibly, we are the most distracted generation with all of our instant news, technology, gadgets, schedules, and activities. And it is even worse for our children who have cut their teeth on texting and social media.
According to Distracted.gov statistices, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. These stats are a few years old, but it’s clear that distraction is a problem to address. Distractions also impact many areas of life.
Distractions hinder our ability to relate to God.
With so much going on in our lives, stillness and spiritual focus can be a challenge. How about when we are reading our Bible? Times of prayer and listening to God through attentive Bible reading are vital to our spiritual health and maturity. To our relationship with God.
How many times do we sit down to pray and read Scripture only to have the duties of the day barge in with “Don’t forget to do this…and that… oh and this—better stop and do this one right now.” What if we begin to understand that prayer is part of being present with Christ?
Maybe we try to get up early to spend time with God and find ourselves drifting back to sleep. Can you relate?
Identify your spiritual distractors.
I can’t hear you, Lord.
Listening to God is an area where we often struggle with distraction and lack of spiritual attention.
In addition to busy schedules and heavy work loads, distractions come in many forms. Some distractions are external to our environment and lifestyle. Others are internal, rooted in our thinking and emotions.
Have you struggled with some of these distractions from spiritual focus?
- Cluttered mind
- Other priorities
- Lack of time
- Critical thought
- Unresolved conflict or resentment
- Negative self-talk
- Over busy
- Talking too much
- Unconfessed sin
- Runaway emotions
- Lack of concentration
The first step to increasing spiritual attention is identifying our main distractors. Take time to consider what keeps you from spiritual focus and intimacy in your relationship with God. Seriously. Take time right this moment, before you get distracted…. to think about your top three distractors.
Go All In.
This year at Planting Roots, we’re want to be ALL IN with God. Going all in with God, begins with the commitment to take our faith seriously, to develop focus and overcome the distractions that hold us back spiritually.
Loving God and spiritual focus go together. We give our attention to what we value.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Maybe you’ve read this verse a thousand times, but maybe you haven’t. There really isn’t anything new on this planet. Jesus spoke to the issue of spiritual distraction more than 2000 years ago. Speaking to all the things that we worry about, Jesus gave us this simple, eternal truth: put God first and trust Him with the rest.
Ask God to reveal your greatest challenge in spiritual attention, one area to let Him work on. Identify your greatest distraction and pray about it. Let God to show you any issues that are at the root of your distracted mind. Seek His wisdom and help.
How do you overcome spiritual distraction? Share you’re thoughts and let’s learn together.
Ginger Harrington is publishing coordinator for Planting Roots. A popular speaker, she has also written military themed posts for Guideposts Military Blog and (in)courage. Ginger and her retired Marine husband have enjoyed twenty-four years of military life and are parents to three young adults. Read more from Ginger at GingerHarrington.com, an award-winning blog. Enjoy Ginger’s ebook devotional: 50 Scriptures to Combat Negative Thinking, available for subscribers to her blog.