Spending time with babies and preschoolers reminds me how easily distracted they are. Micah, at 18 months, can be hard-core tantrumming about a toy he hopes to snatch from his sister but a quick glance at something new turns it off like a water faucet. His lilting voice returns, and he’s all grins.
Tonight he was cheerfully munching his dinner when he accidentally knocked his plastic plate to the floor, scattering its contents in a yard-wide circle. Jack was there in a flash, demolishing Micah’s meal in less than a minute while Micah wailed and pointed at the tile in anguish. Although he loves Jack, it was disturbing to see his ham rolls and cheese cubes disappear.
There was no calming him. Dinner was over.
I took him out of his high chair in an inconsolable state, but by the time we’d walked to the next room, he was belly-laughing. The only thing I did was bump my forehead against his and say, “Buh buh buh buh.” Distractibility. It’s a wonderful thing.
Or is it?
Being that distractible is associated with being immature, but I wonder how many of us with accumulated years are equally as distractible. From God’s perspective it must seem continual. We join a Bible study but get distracted while doing our lesson and arrive unprepared. We promise to memorize Scripture but fail to focus and can’t retain what we learn. We vow to do better at sharing our faith but get sidetracked worrying about failure. We commit to regular offering contributions but get diverted by a vacation package or a new car.
I wonder if God doesn’t long to see unswerving determination in our spiritual lives. Paul talks about “fixing our eyes on Jesus” as we run life’s race, explaining how not to become distracted along the way. James describes the negatives of being “double-minded.” And in Deuteronomy we read God’s urgings to obey “without turning to the right or to the left.”
Scripture links distractibility not only with immaturity but also with instability, and none of us wants to be unstable. If we can resolve to be single-minded, we’ll eliminate quite a few problems. For example, if married people refuse to entertain ideas of being single again, fewer will walk away from their spouses. And if we commit to living in harmony with others, the courts won’t be as overloaded as they are.
The benefits will be personal, too. If we follow through on saving money, we won’t panic when an emergency occurs. If we commit to eating wisely, we’ll be healthier. If we take God’s promises at face value, we’ll live in freedom.
The temptation “to have our cake and eat it too” is all around us, and if the enemy can keep us distracted and lock us into wishy-washy thinking, he knows he’ll be victorious.
If only it were as easy as “buh buh buh buh.”
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)