When Good Intentions Turn Into Distractions

Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:8

Three months passed and the boxes remained in the corner of the kitchen and on the breakfast table. A thin layer of dust reminded me of how time had passed.

“Oh, well,” I thought to myself as I walked through the kitchen, “another day won’t matter.”

In a flurry of summer energy coupled with the shame of cluttered closets and cabinets, I decided to fill boxes for the donation center. “Ridding out,” I called it. It felt so good to let go of things that had long lost their appeal and usefulness. I piled the boxes in the kitchen to move to my car and then the donation center.

I would move the boxes to the car as soon as I took care of…

And so it went. Days passed, weeks and, sadly, months were gone, and the boxes remained in the kitchen fifty feet from the garage and my car. So close yet so far.

Four months later, the boxes were moved to my car and delivered to the center. When I walked into the kitchen later, I felt a sense of relief. Ignoring them was hard work. Justifying their presence was tiring. I learned three valuable lessons from ignoring these boxes:

Once the distraction starts, it becomes a habit.

After a while, I didn’t notice the boxes. They became part of the landscape. It starts small. You lose focus on one thing, like reading scripture. “I’ll read my Bible later,” you say on a busy morning. Then, a month later, you haven’t opened the Word of God. Your joy is gone, and your attitude stinks. The Word of God is the bread of life. Without it, we lose our direction. When a distraction is allowed to keep going, a habit is forming.

One day, you realize this isn’t working.

What started as a good thing–cleaning out closets–turned into a diversion. Anything that turns our focus away from Jesus will become harder to maintain. We have a longing inside that yearns for Jesus, to be in God’s presence, to know we are loved. Nothing will replace it. When you notice the habit is not as satisfying as time with Jesus, it’s time to move those boxes (or whatever is in the way)!

“Ridding out” distractions and resulting habits is freeing.

Once, the boxes were gone, I felt a great sense of relief. In the kitchen, there were open spaces where clutter once lived. I was free of the distracting boxes! Get rid of the things that turn your focus from Jesus.

Are you involved in things maybe God didn’t tell you to do? Are you spending more time focusing on the temporal instead of the eternal? You will have to choose. You cannot serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)

Through His prophet Zechariah, God tells the people who had turned away and become distracted by their own desires, ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you…” (Zechariah 1:3)

The focus scripture here reminds us to do the same and “draw near.” How do we do that? James says to purify your heart, ask forgiveness and turn away from those things that distract us from seeking Jesus. Set your heart and mind on Him. (Colossians 3:1-2) Git rid of those distractions and return.

He is waiting.

Jesus, thank you for calling us to you and for your unfailing love. Show us what stands in the way of a closer relationship with you. Reveal to us the good intentions that have become distractions. Even if it is a good thing, help us to remove the obstacle and draw near to you.

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