Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Diversions and Distractions

Sometimes I get irritated by “studies” that are done by some of our institutes of higher learning. While I truly believe in research, some things just do not need a “study” to be done to know the truth. I read this week about one such study that was done by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For the study, they used virtual reality software and three TV screens to simulate traffic at an actual crosswalk in Birmingham, Alabama. The team studied the reactions of 77 children, ages 10 and 11, crossing the simulated road six times without the phone, and six times while talking on the phone with a research assistant. The children were told to cross the street when they felt it was safe. When children stepped off a "curb" and onto a sensor pad, their moves were captured by a computer.

What was the result? The university found that children take more risks when they talking on a cell phone, they took 20 percent longer to begin crossing the street, and they were 43 percent more likely to be hit by a vehicle or have a close call when they were on the phone. Children also forgot to look both ways in about 20 percent of the crossings while on the phone.

All I have to say is…well duh! Most adults would have the same result. We have all seen the guy driving on the interstate, talking on his cell phone, reading the paper and trying to eat a bowl of Fruit Loops at the same time. He and the others around him are not safe. The reality is that when we try to put our focus on too many things at once, we place ourselves in a very vulnerable position.

In the book of Hebrews we find these words. Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV) We hear this verse quoted and used in sermons quite a bit. Most of the time, it is in reference to the “great cloud of witnesses” and how we should run the race. However, there is one part of this verse that I think we sometimes overlook.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to “lay aside every weight” and also the “sin that so easily ensnares us”. Just how do we become “ensnared” by something? The idea behind the word is to catch something. In order to catch or ensnare something, the thing that is to be caught needs to be unaware of the plot against it.

When someone sets a trap for an animal, they have to disguise the trap in order to lure the animal in. Most times, bait is used to attract the animal to the trap. The animal heads for the bait, ready to enjoy a nice meal, and suddenly the cage shuts and they cannot escape.

Just like the bait for that animal, or the cell phone for those children in the study, we are too easily distracted by the things of this world. We shift our focus on something other than God, and suddenly the cage shuts behind us or we inadvertently step off the street curb and into a world of sin and addiction from which we cannot escape.

Today there are so many things calling for our attention. There are TV commercials, billboards, cell phones, computers, Blackberrys, i-phones, movies, sports, jobs, and…well, you get the idea. Sometimes it is very difficult to find the time or the energy to give Him a little of that focus. However, if we do not, we will find ourselves blind-sided by a world that cares little for our well being.

What will you do this week to re-focus on your relationship with God?

We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on Him. (Isaiah 53:6 The Message)

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6 NIV)

1 comment:

monica said...

Stacy...I saw your posting the other day about your blog and decided to check it out tonight. I really was moved to think about the things you wrote....thank you. I know I find it very hard to quiet myself and pray and listen. Instead my mind races with thoughts of chores and worries and schedules, etc.
I plan to check back and visit your blog again.

In Christ,
Monica Rowland Orr