Taking Time to Focus on God in the Midst of Distractions

“Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

I was recently sitting on my deck, relaxing after a long day. It would have been a peaceful time for reflection had it not been for the gnats swarming outside. One of my favorite Christian authors has made the analogy that “distractions swarm like gnats on a summer night.” This analogy is apt not only during these warm summer nights but in a world increasingly swarmed by the distractions of life.

There is no lack of distractions around us: What is going on with the pandemic? What do I need to buy at the store this week? What celebrity is involved with a new scandal? What’s the newest political drama unfolding in our country?

As I thought about the distractions of life and focusing on God in the midst of them, there was no shortage of passages from the Scriptures where I might have found some encouragement or an example of the men and women of God who have pressed through the distractions of their own lives to focus on God.

One passage that kept coming to mind, though, as I thought about focusing on God in the midst of distractions was the story of Elijah when he had fled into the wilderness of Mount Horeb. Elijah had a lot to keep him distracted: Jezebel had sent a message threatening his life. Many of you know the story from there. An angel of the Lord provided food and water to Elijah as he continued in hiding for forty days. After all of that time, though, being separated from life’s distractions in the wilderness and being provided for by the supernatural provision of the Lord, Elijah was still distracted. The voice of the Lord came to Elijah in a cave and asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” to which Elijah responds that he has fled because the prophets are being killed and he alone remains.

The Lord then tells Elijah to go and stand on the mountain. In an interesting reflection of what was going on in Elijah’s life, as Elijah stood out on the mountain there was a great wind that tore the rocks of the mountains into pieces, then a great earthquake, and finally a fire. Yet, the Scriptures tell us, the Lord was in none of these things. How terrifying it must have been to see all of these things happening around him over which Elijah had no control! Yet, the Lord was not in the distractions happening around Elijah, but rather the Lord came as a still, small voice despite the distractions going on all around Elijah. Had Elijah been too stuck in these distractions and his ears not attentive for the still, small voice of God, perhaps he would have missed what the Lord had to say next. Elijah did listen, though, and homed in on the still, small voice of God in the midst of all of life’s distractions. The Lord then spoke to Elijah and gave him the instructions that he needed to get through the adversities facing him and what the Lord had in store for him next.

Like Elijah, who happens to be my namesake, I often find myself distracted by the adversities of life. Being a concrete-sequential thinker and working in a data-driven career, I am naturally plagued with a high inclination to overthink, over-plan, and over-analyze. Whole positive traits in the right circumstances, these all lend themselves to the trouble of being easily distracted by life’s situations. Like Elijah, though, I have to remind myself that while life’s situations may be loud and vying for my attention, it is often not in the loudness and distractions that God’s voice can be found, but rather in a still, small voice. It can be hard to hear this voice if you are not accustomed to it, but as a child knows the voice of its father through hearing it daily, we too grow accustomed to the voice of God as we hear Him daily through reading the Scriptures and hearing Him speak to us through the Holy Spirit.

Are you distracted by all that is going on? Are you anxious? Are you trying hard to plan through every possible scenario but not listening for what God may have to say? I encourage you, despite the distractions that may compete for your attention this week, to focus on the still, small voice of God.

Spend some extra time in the Scriptures, quietly seeking what the Lord may be speaking to you. Spend some extra time in prayer, taking care to not only lay out your problems and requests but also to be silent and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. I pray in all things that you are going through, however big the distractions maybe, that you would be comforted by “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) and that you would hear the still, small voice of God that still speaks to our hearts today through the Holy Spirit.

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