When Life’s Distractions Cloud Our View

Atlanta 2012 145

Our family struggles with the distractions of daily life. Our heart’s are easily pulled away to what’s temporary and worldly. We spend much of our time focused inward instead of upward. Rarely do we slow down; every moment of the day is consumed.

Summer vacation provides an opportunity to get away from normal routine, explore new places, and perhaps even see life a bit clearer. On one such vacation in Georgia, we decided to take our boys canoeing. We packed up a cooler, rented a canoe, and stepped into the river. The water pouring into the holes of my purple sandals was a cool contrast to the warm air. Though the water was cold, as we glided across the smooth water, a quiet warmth grew deep in my soul.

We floated slowly at first, getting used to the feel of the oars. The river was tranquil, silent, and calm. Trees were bent over from previous storms and large rocks jutted out of the water. Flowering trees that lined the shore rained their white flowers down onto the water below. The petals floated by the canoe, looking as if someone had sprinkled them on a walkway in preparation for a bridal party.

The boys began to complain that they were bored and I could hear my husband sending text messages to the office. A commentary to our modern lives, my boys would prefer to be inside, their fingers sliding across a plastic screen. The distractions of life had followed us, even to that peaceful place.

To keep the boys from complaining, I challenged them to count the number of turtles we saw during our two and a half hour journey. Initially, I started pointing them out to the kids but they soon took over. In the first hour we had seen almost ten turtles. We enjoyed a ride through a few minor rapids and then got out for a swim. Tadpoles and minnows swam around our toes. Occasionally we spotted a catfish swim by in the shallow water.

We found our rhythm in rowing and in counting. Soon we were all pointing out turtles and counting them one by one. Two-thirds of a way through our trip down the river, we spotted a fallen tree covered in turtles, about twenty in all. And thereafter, we kept spotting log after log full of turtles stretched out in the sun. We continued to point them out, marveling at the sheer number of them. By the end of our trip, we had counted well over a hundred turtles.

Our daily life is a lot like that canoe trip. With our hearts focused on the concerns of the day, how we’ll get everything done, and filling even the few extra minutes we do have by checking our email, we miss seeing the grace of God all around us. It’s as though we live in a fog that blocks our vision of God’s abundant in our lives. The busyness of life, distractions, cares of this world, worries and fears can all become a haze that clouds the full rays of light from the Father. Clearing away the fog requires a change in the atmosphere. Taking the time to look away from the screen and meditating on the goodness of God can spark a light that gradually brightens more and more until it burns off the layers of fog. Like Bartimaeus seeing for the first time, our view may at first be blurred. But the more we dwell on all that God has done for us, the more our vision clears.

My family often lives life in that dimly lit fog. Being out in nature and seeing the hand print of God everywhere on that Georgia river took some getting used to. Eventually, we began to see and counted the turtles along the shoreline. We appreciated the quiet, the warmth of the sun on our skin, and the cool droplets of water that rained down as we paddled. We marveled at God’s creation and the gift of life.

To see clearly and dwell on God’s goodness and His endless grace in our lives sometimes requires getting away from routine and distractions. It takes stepping away from our usual rushing and pushing through our day. It takes putting aside the things that don’t matter to see the gifts that do. It takes a step in faith, believing that His goodness is there just beyond the clouds of distraction that block our view. The more we look away from ourselves, the more we seek Him, the more we desire to know His goodness, the more our vision clears. The sun begins to shine, the clouds will part and we will see His goodness and grace in all its brilliant splendor. Because it’s always been there, we just needed to look up to see it.

Do the details of life distract you from experiencing and rejoicing in God’s goodness? Is your life consumed with the cares of this world, so much that you don’t see God’s grace in your life? What do you need to put aside to intentionally focus on all that God has done for you?

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One Comment to “When Life’s Distractions Cloud Our View”

  1. Oh, how I loved this post. It is so easy to settle for second best ( or even third and fourth best) rather than the good things our Good God gives us. And when we finally loosen our grip on the mediocre, God’s best often takes some “getting used to.” What a wonderful remind to be vigilant to choose the best – even when it is the hardest path!