Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Myth of Close and Threatening

   Molly, our 9 year old Maltese ninja-dog, and I were out for a walk the other day. She was curiously sniffing everything we happened upon as we strolled along the sidewalks of Old Perry Road, near our home. I was listening to an audiobook when suddenly the sound of the author speaking into my ears was overcome by another sound, loud and seemingly all around me. I took the earbuds out and realized that it was the Norfolk Southern train, over a half of a mile from where we were walking. It happened later on, as we were headed back toward the house. Both times I was struck by how my ears (and my mind) were not able to determine how close the sound was because of the other sounds and distractions going on around me. It sounded as though the horn of the train was close and all around me.
   Many of you are thinking, "This is exactly why it is not safe to walk, ride, or drive with earbuds in Scott." You are correct. For our part, Molly and I were walking on the sidewalk about very careful when crossing streets.
   The experience of having my brain convince me that an object was much closer than I knew could be true, gave me pause. What other experiences have I had where I was too distracted to be able to appreciate the distance or possible threat posed by something else? As I think about it I realize that it happens all the time. Distracted by the one thing I really want to happen, I lose the ability to appreciate all of the other good things that are happening and in the process miss out on the beauty of nature, of other people, and of God's grace at work. I also realize these same dynamics - distracted by one thing and then overwhelmed by another thing that I incorrectly perceive as close and threatening - have led me to speak poorly of others, to react in anger, to not appreciate someone else's contribution, and to otherwise act like an idiot.
   The truth is, most of the things that we perceive as threatening are not that close and not that much of a threat; our minds and our hearts have been tricked by other distractions. Could it be that the devil does not always have to try hart to tempt us or ensnare us? Could it be that we walk right into bad actions or hasty reactions simply because we are too distracted and not able to appreciate the safe distance something or someone else is from us?
   The Season of Lent calls to remove some of the distractions in order to hear more clearly the call of God. I cannot think of a time in all of Christian history in which the intentional choice to put down distractions is needed more than this age of constant technological connection and the endless stream of noise, news, and nagging distractions. We need the grace offered in the moments we turn off the distractions and tune into the Word of God through prayer, meditation, and reading the Scriptures. I invite you to continue journeying with me toward Easter.
   Grace and peace, Scott

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