In 2009, Pixar released the animated classic, Up!. One of the most memorable parts of the movie were the times when the dog, (affectionately named, “Dug”), was continually distracted by a squirrel. Several times throughout the movie, out of nowhere, the dog would be completely distracted at the thought of “Squirrel!” Click on the short clip below to view the scene. But how does one stay focused when distraction hits us from every side?
Distraction Prevents Focus
By definition, distraction prevents focus. It does not offer momentum, but rather, it allows for lateral movement at best. It prevents one from moving forward. To counter distraction, we embrace discipline, create tasks on paper, or set reminders on our phones to keep us on track. But then out of the blue, the Devil will shout, ‘Squirrel!” This “Squirrel” takes many different faces. An insult, an offense, a lost job, a health scare, a lost loved one. It really does not matter if it’s significant or not, as long as it takes your eyes off of the Father. The moment he seizes our attention, he enslaves our thinking, and focus becomes a thing of the past. Mission accomplished.
The Devil Has Not Changed
When Scripture first introduced the Devil in Genesis 3, amongst other things, he was exposed as the great distractor.
1He [the Devil] said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. – Genesis 3:1-6
What was the point of the conversation? To get her to take her eyes off of God.
The Favorite Weapon of The Enemy
It cannot be overstated: The sole purpose of the Devil is to prevent intimacy with the Father and he will do anything to accomplish that goal. One would think that he would send the worst of the worst to terrorize you, but he knows that would send you straight into the arms of the Father. Instead, he uses a devious ploy, one so simple, one that even the most incompetent demon can master. Distraction. He uses distraction as his primary tool to prevent you from looking to God, because he knows that when you do, you will find him (Matthew 7:7-8), and when you draw close to him, he will draw close to you (James 4:8). The Devil will do anything to prevent intimacy between you and the Father.
When we think of distractions, we tend to think of the big things, like drugs, sex and alcohol, but the Devil is not limited to drugs, sex and alcohol. Anything can serve as a distraction. What may distract me, may not distract you, and what distracts you, may not influence me in the least. He has been studying you all of your life, and he will use anything he can to distract you from focusing on the Father.
The Devil Tried to Distract Jesus
The Devil even tried to prevent Jesus himself, from focusing on the Father. In Luke 4:1-12, we find the familiar passage where the Devil tempted Jesus. Twice in this passage, he stated, “If you are the Son of God”. As with Eve, he attempted to convey God as a liar, one who could not be trusted, trying to get Jesus to focus on anything but the Father, (in this case, to question his own identity). Jesus’ response? “It is written . . .” He focused on what the Father had said.
What Did He Say?
When you feel overwhelmed with stress, don’t allow it to serve as a distraction. Instead, focus on what the Jesus said, “28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
When unemployment knocks on your door, don’t allow it to serve as a distraction. Instead, focus on what the Father said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” – (Matt 6:33).
When loneliness clings to you and just won’t leave you alone, don’t give into the distraction. Instead, focus on what the Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matt 18:20).
When heartbreak breaks down the door of your heart, don’t allow it to serve as a distraction. Instead, focus on what the Word says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” – (Psalm 147:3).
When cancer knocks on your door, don’t allow it to serve as a distraction. Instead, remember that “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction” – (Matthew 9:35).
When fear knocks on your door, don’t allow it to serve as a distraction. Instead, focus on what the Father has spoken, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” – (Isaiah 41:10)
When the death of a loved stands at your door, don’t allow it to serve as a distraction. Instead, focus on what the Father has spoken through his Word, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” – (1 Corinthians 15:55).
More Than a Conqueror
The more you focus on what the Father has spoken through His Word, the less power distraction will have over you. This is why Jesus was able to overwhelmingly thwart the Devil’s lame attempt to pull him into an argument in Luke 4. Jesus referred the Devil to what the Father said, . . . and you should too. When confronted with the distractions that the Devil throws at you, without reservation, refer to what the Father has already spoken. There, you will find healing and restoration. This is how you win. This is how you live as “more than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37).