noun 1. a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.
In a culture obsessed with accomplishments and performance, the word “distraction” has taken on a negative connotation. Distractions are things to be avoided, to be overcome. They keep us from our work, from our goals. They detract from something more important. And in many instances, this is the case. The drivel that keeps me captivated to Facebook, or at the very least keeps me entertained enough to avoid my work, is definitely a distraction to eliminate.
But not all “distractions” are bad ones. Take for example a phone call from a distressed friend, or an invitation to get coffee, or a conversation at the store. They could be things that get in our way, slow us down, and keep us from accomplishing our tasks for the day efficiently. But they may also be invitations from the Lord to follow His plan for our day (and lives as a whole).
Do not misunderstand me, some of us need to work on good old-fashioned self-discipline to finish the tasks at hand. A distraction can be just that—a distraction, which keeps us from more important things. But something or someone that we could at first consider a distraction could actually be the main event, and our sense of drivenness or our desire to set our own agendas could be the true distraction to what God has put in our path.
Consider Jesus. He had a clear objective and was a man on a life or death mission with the disciples in tow. Envision a celebrity when they’re fighting through the fans and paparazzi, with people screaming and pushing to get close, their arms held high for an autograph or a handshake. The celebrity—in this case Jesus—is trying to get somewhere and has business to attend to.
It seems Jesus disregarded the crowd as a distraction—but then a desperate woman, violating any norms of social decency or acceptable behavior, lunges through the wall of people and manages to touch his clothes. She was a “distraction” from his already assigned mission to save a little girl’s life—but he stopped. He derailed his plans and the urgings of others, even what could be seen as obligation and responsibility, simply to focus on her.
For Jesus, this woman became the center of his attention. She became the main event.
Sometimes he asks us to do the same. Sometimes our distractions are actually opportunities. Sometimes our good plans and good goals can keep us from what the Lord has given us to do.
I’m reminded of a prayer my mentor would pray, which I often pray. Lord, show me what you have put in my basket for this day. I pray for clear vision as I walk through the day, to be able to discern where and how to spend my time and energy. Just that simple prayer keeps me more on alert, looking for ways He may be breaking in, being sensitive to unexpected opportunities. Because sometimes “distractions” are the things that deserve our full attention.