Tell me if this sounds familiar: you buy a ticket for a movie, sit down in the theater, watch a bunch of commercials, followed by a slew of previews, and by the time they tell you to silence your cell phones because the movie is about to begin, you’ve completely forgotten what you came to see.
That’s me pretty much every time I go to the movie theater. I just get so distracted by all the “Coming Soon” options that I forget why I’m there.
I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at multi-tasking and can successfully spin quite a few plates simultaneously, but I do succumb to unwanted distractions more frequently than I would care to admit. Even as I type this, I have to fight the urge to check the weather app on my phone to see if it’s going to rain tomorrow or look at my calendar for the events of the upcoming week or start a shopping list so I can pick up groceries. Too often, my mind can easily wander.
So how do I effectively remember what’s most important and worthy of my time without getting off track with meaningless, time-guzzling detours? For practical advice in predicaments like these, I like to go to the Book of Proverbs, such as the wise words meant for a father to share with his son found in Proverbs 4.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. (The Message)
· I need to be attentive to my emotions. They are the center of who I am, so they must be important. Not to mention that everything I say and do come from these thoughts and feelings. I can’t put it any better than the Apostle Paul did in 2 Corinthians 10:5 – “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
· My words are important. Slinging around gossip, rude sarcasm, and outright lies will be detrimental to both me and the listener in the end. I should do as Ephesians 4 instructs: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”
· I should focus on essential, eternal truths. As Colossians 3:2 says, “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here.”
· I’ll try to emulate the mules we rode when we explored the rim of the Grand Canyon last month. Carefully, deliberately choosing each step I take—whether it be precariously close to the edge of a cliff or through dry brambles of a burned out forest. And this is not just for myself, but for those traveling behind me. The writer of Hebrews must’ve had this Proverb in mind when he wrote: “And mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet so that those who follow you, though weak and lame, will not fall and hurt themselves but become strong.”
Eyes on the prize. Feet on the path. Mouth marked by gentleness. Heart full of joy.