“Aaaaahhh! There’s a stick!…Oooo! Catch that leaf! The wind is blowing it a cross the yard!!…Who is that at the neighbor’s?!?…Squirrrrrelll!!!”
If you’ve read the last post, you know that we’re working on training our puppy. Just this morning, we were outside, working on heeling, but whatever smells were on or under the ground were WAY more appealing to our pup than my voice or the treats I had to offer. Yesterday, we were playing fetch (which he’s really good at), but he decided that a detour behind our out-garage was worth his time. Why is a tour through the woods more fun than playing fetch?!?…(Sigh.)…It’s SO much easier to train inside, where the distractions are less; he obeys much more quickly!…Isn’t that all of us?
How are your “heeling” lessons? Are you walking closely by your Master? What’s your biggest distraction?
If you’ve spent any length of time in a store, you’ve seen this, as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child or an adult, walking toward what they came for; they soon become distracted by something sitting in the middle of the aisle that marketers bank on (literally) drawing their eyes and attention to. If they’re focused (especially if they’re driven by a time crunch), they may be more apt to succeed in getting only what they came for; however, if they have even a little time on their hands, it can be so easy to get distracted!
Temptation…Even Jesus was tempted. Following His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness. During the 40 days He was there, Satan whirled distractions at Jesus with the hopes of enticing Him to sin. While Jesus aced the tests, we often don’t. These 40 days are the basis for the 40 days some observe as Lent, approaching the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Whether or not you observe Lent, many view it purely as a time to give something up…to test their self-control. Yet, take a look at this…
“Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.”Hebrews 12:1 CEV
Just like people watch a race, those around us, who pass us, who live next to us, who do life with us, who drive behind us…watch us! This verse alerts us that we need to run this race of life, which God has gifted to us, well. To do this, we need to throw off/get rid of anything that weighs us down.
What is this to you? What weighs you down?
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”1 Peter 5:7 NLT
All your worries, cares, anxieties…This meaning comes from a word that refers to distractions. These distractions weigh us down; they make it harder to move forward; and they take our focus off the finish line and the prize.
Just like when training a dog, you are going to train him in a quieter environment, first, to get him to recognize your voice and develop positive habits of obedience. When training a child, you begin at home; you don’t start your first lesson at the grocery store. When God is training us, as believers, He will, at some point, put us in a position where we are alone with Him (I have learned more about the LORD and heard His voice more clearly than ever before during my health issues, where I have been immobile and in the quiet, seeking Him).
Maybe, for you, it’s the death of someone you love…or Covid…or moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone…or when you’re between jobs…or in a situation that just brings you to our knees; it feels so out of control. This is a training ground. We have the opportunity to become more and more obedient in these quiet hours, learning to hear His voice more clearly, but He WILL expose us to more noise, more distractions. Will we absentmindedly pick up that heavy pack of distractions and run, weighed down by it, or will we run to our Shelter, our Dwelling Place, along life’s path, drop off the heavy pack at the foot of His throne, knowing He will take care of it, and continue to run the race God has designed for us? Will all those watching see where and Whom we ran to in this contest, this struggle? Will they see what we did and how we continue to run, freer, lighter, after dropping off the heavy pack? Will our actions inspire others to do the same?
“fixing our attention on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, Who, in view of the joy set before Him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:2 ISV
Jesus, too, had a race to run. He had a goal before Him, a hard road, threw off (disregarded) what would try to bog Him down, and finished the race well (“…’It is Finished!’…” John 19:30)!
As you reflect on your journey (your race), where is your attention focused?
Is there something weighing you down from reflecting Who Jesus is, why He came, and that He lives…in you?
What do you need to get rid of (not for the sake of testing your self-control, but releasing your control–or its control of you–and dropping whatever it is off to God)?