Attacks On Our Hope: Discouraging Distractions

I was wondering exactly what next to post about in regard to attacks on our hope.  THEN, I was hit, right square in the face.  It affected EVERYTHING in my life, including my discipline, my focus on God and attention to my family .  What was it that derailed me?  Something shiny.

It glinted at me with a sharp ray of light and caused me to (at first momentarily) turn my attention away from everything else and to look at it.  Then the look turned to staring.  And after that, I was a goner.  36+ hours later I still hadn’t slept, and for a total of four days, I was completely consumed with the shiny thing. 

I am exhausted, my family is not pleased with me, I haven’t had devotion in days, I have not cleaned the house, nor gone to the gym.  I sat in the same place for so long, my leg muscles atrophied!  What could this possibly be, you ask?  Programming code.

That’s not shiny, you say.  Well, it is shiny to me.  To you, it is probably gobbledy-gook. To me, it is the key to bringing my ideas to life, my dreams to fruition, and possibly, the way out of debt and to prosperity. 

No, it’s more than that, really.  When I am in the midst of successfully programming something, I am on a literal drug-free high.  I am ecstatic, I  giggle, I laugh, time flies by, I’m energized and I keep going until I literally drop.

My husband saw the signs after I stayed up all night on the first day.  He told me he was worried, because he had seen this before (being consumed to the point of being otherwise useless), and he didn’t want me (or the rest of the family) going through this again.  I nodded in agreement, told him I understood – and I didn’t leave my computer for yet another 72 hours. (Well, I DID go to Praise & Worship practice and to church – I wasn’t a complete heathen!)

My point here is that I was distracted by something good – potentially VERY good.  It could bring in money to pay off our debts and make us financially secure.  It is something I enjoy tremendously.  However, it was a distraction that undid weeks of conscientious attempts to build good social, domestic, health and spiritual habits. 

It was a distraction that, although exhilarating at the moment, has left me discouraged about having to start from scratch rebuilding my habits, and feeling somewhat hopeless that I can ever overcome this persistent problem I have had throughout my life.  I am an all or nothing person, especially when the thing I’m ALL into makes me feel so absolutely thrilled to my core.  It TRULY is like a drug to me, and I’m betting many of you have similar problems with things that are SHINY to you.

Maybe it’s Facebook’s Bejeweled, FarmVille, or simply status checking that is shiny to you, and once you start you can’t stop.  Maybe it’s a relationship – especially at the beginning when (you really don’t know the annoying stuff about them and) all you want to do is be with them. Maybe it’s watching tv or movies, or reading good books. Maybe it’s eating large portions of really yummy foods that are not good for you.  Maybe it’s playing or creating music.  Whatever puts you on a high, feeds your appetite for MORE, and makes you lose focus on the things that would otherwise be a life priority is “shiny” to you.

The scriptures that comes to mind are:

whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.  Philippians 3:19

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. Romans 16:18

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinithians 10:23,24

When we focus solely on what makes us feel good, our appetite has become our God.  We obey its whims and requests without question and we become its bondslave.  But I think the one scripture that sums it up best is:

 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.  Romans 6:12

There’s nothing wrong with food, drink, music, tv, movies, games, sex – or in my case, programming – UNTIL it masters us.    That’s what happened to me this past week – I was MASTERED by what brings me enjoyment to the neglect of other things that were truly more important.  And now I have to deal with the consequences – which is being way behind on my household, canine, culinary, health, marital and spiritual obligations.

In the animated movie, “Up”, there was a dog with a voice box.  He seemed very intelligent and you forgot he was a dog while he was talking, UNTIL mid-sentence, he would turn his head quickly to the right and yell “SQUIRREL!”.  THAT is me.  And this really resonates with me because my husband breeds squirrel hunting dogs, and as of today, we have eight of them in our kennels.  If you say “squirrel” to the more experienced ones, not only do their ears perk up, the best will immediately turn to look at the tree tops to scour them for squirrel activity. 

So one of Satan’s most effective weapons against me, especially since the depression and negativity no longer have me bound, is to yell, “SQUIRREL” , because he knows I will turn my head and go off chasing squirrels (or programming).  What do you chase when Satan yells “SQUIRREL” to you?  What do you do to overcome it?  Resisting can be hard, but we know that’s when the devil flees.

My encouragement in the face of my acknowledged abandonment of all that was truly important this weekend is Isaiah 50:7 –

 7 Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
       I will not be disgraced.
       Therefore have I set my face like flint,
       and I know I will not be put to shame.

I need to set my face like flint toward Him.  I will not be disgraced, I will not be put to shame.  This weekend was a sneak attack, but I will be on my guard now to keep the Lord before me, and listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit (and/or my husband) when I hear that what I am doing is out of control.  I think I am going to start telling myself, “Ma’am, please step away from the computer…”

Penny Haynes