“Those Pesky Distractions”
“I neglect God for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door.”
What distractions in my life take my focus off God?
“Distraction”: An obstacle to attention. The act of drawing someone’s attention away from something. Synonym: Beguilement.
“Take heed lest passion sway thy judgment to do aught which else free will would not admit.”
Growing up, I spent many summers at my grandparent’s ranch, riding horses, hiking in the mountains, and best of all swimming in the creek that ran down through the middle of the property.
One day, as my sister and I were enjoying a hot afternoon in the cool, clean water, we noticed the creek seemed to be flowing in a different pattern than usual. We had been warned by my dad that when it rained farther up in the canyon, it could affect the flow of the creek, so immediately we jumped out of the water and reported the situation to our dad. He checked out our story and come to find out, further up the creek from where we were playing, a tree had fallen into the water and the result was the normal flow of water down a well-established creek bed, was now diverted into the fields and onto property never meant to carry water. The silt from the fields, along with all kinds of other items began to enter the water and were carried downstream affecting everything and anyone in the path of the surging water.
Our text today reminds me a lot of the water which was diverted out of the creek bed. As we found out yesterday, God called Samson to be His chosen Deliverer. Before Samson was even born, the “creek bed” was laid out by God. As Samson grew, his heart beat in unison with his heavenly Father’s purpose and design. He was flowing with God’s current in the path of God’s “creek.”
But, oh, what a sad statement we find in Judges 14: 1 when we are told that Samson went down to Timnah and, “saw one of the daughters of the Philistines.”
Make no mistake, it wasn’t wrong for Samson to go to the land of the enemy – the Philistines. In fact, in order to carry out God’s purpose – the deliverance of the Israelites – Samson had to enter hostile territory. However, a HUGE problem developed when Samson’s focus was diverted from God’s purpose for his life. Sadly, Samson chose to redirect his vision toward the lust of his eyes and the desires of his heart.
Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t punish us or forbid us from having longings and desires. Just the opposite. One of my favorite texts is found in Psalm 42: 1(K.J.V.), “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” Talk about a longing, a desire, a craving. This is the kind of emotional attachment I want to have for my heavenly Father.
But in the case of Samson, his longing to do God’s will was diverted by a beautiful distraction. A woman from Timnah, a Philistine, caught his eye. The Bible says that Samson “saw” her and instead of taking his eyes off of her and turning them back to God’s path, he let his focus be completely redirected.
When I went to the dictionary to look up the meaning of the word distraction, something very interesting and all too familiar caught my attention. It was the word that was used as a synonym for “distraction” – and it was the word “beguiled.” Sound familiar? If you were part of our Transformation Garden family one year ago when we began the book of Genesis, studying the lives of all the women in the Bible, the word “beguiled” will be very familiar to you for it was the word Eve used when she was trying to give God, her Creator, an excuse for falling prey to the serpent’s enticing ploy. Genesis 3: 13 tells us that Eve said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” And just a quick reminder, in the Hebrew the word “beguiled” means “seduced.” Isn’t the Bible amazing?! From the moment the toxin called sin entered our world, God has shown us, that by letting the “serpent,” whoever or whatever that “serpent” is in your life and mine, divert our focus from God or distract us from the purpose He has for our lives, we fall victim, very quickly, to the beguiling, seduction of what will in the end bring about our destruction.
Samson’s first mistake wasn’t going to Timnah. It was losing sight of why God sent him to Timnah, and it wasn’t to “see” the girls. Samson’s calling was so much more than the satisfaction of his own desires. God’s purpose for him was the deliverance of Israel. How sad that a seemingly innocent distraction turned his head and diverted the focus of his life.
As I read this story again over the last few days, I began to review my own life and the distractions that assail me each day, just as they do you. In themselves, distractions don’t have to be “wrong.” For all we know, the Philistine girl in Timnah was a nice person – but she wasn’t God’s person. She may even have thought Samson was wonderful for as we will see, he was certainly smitten with her. But sadly, this pesky distraction, not only got Samson to turn aside from God’s path, but worse yet, this distraction revealed to the Philistines the weakness in Samson’s character and how these vicious enemies used the chink in Samson’s armour to bring him down.
Years ago, Lord Chesterfield penned these very astute words: “Vice, in its true light, is so deformed, that it shocks us at first sight; and would hardly ever seduce us, if it did not at first wear the mask of some virtue.” May you and I beware the mask that covers the hidden agenda of pesky distractions.
“O Lord my God, take away from me all that blocks my way to You; give me all that speeds me towards You; rescue me from myself, and give me as Your own to Yourself.”
Nicholas von Flue
“Have thine own way, Lord,
Have Thine own way;
Thou art the potter,
I am the clay.
Mould me and make me,
After Thy will,
While I am waiting
Yielded and still.”
A. A. Pollard
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