A man walked off a cliff while distracted by his cell phone plummeting to his death. Automobile fatalities have occurred with drivers texting instead of noticing the on-coming tree or vehicle. We cannot but conclude there is danger is distraction. Yet, distraction is a big part of our world.
I suspect that the default setting for our world is noise. I can remember my family’s first television set when I was a child. It was a big wooden cabinet RCA, but the black and white screen wasn’t that big by today’s standards, and we received one channel maybe two if the conditions were just right. The broadcast day would end around midnight with the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. Now our large, high definition screens have more channels than I have ever viewed. Television is on demand at any moment of the day. I can even watch it on my phone and tablet wherever I am.
I remember my first transistor radio as a boy. I could stick it in my pocket and have AM radio wherever I went. It was a marvel of miniaturization with the new transistors replacing the old, large vacuum tubes. Now I carry the Internet in my pocket, and with it a world of distractions.
I’m not wanting to give up my modern conveniences. I regularly use a smartphone, a tablet computer, a laptop, and a TV that streams content on demand. But I’m also aware of their dangers. I don’t want my attention span shrunk to a 140-character tweet or the rapidly changing images of a video. A library of books that we call the Bible sustains the life of the church and the life of a Christian. We must fight against the distractions that would keep us from our heritage and great spiritual treasure.
Distractions, however, can do more damage than just shortening our attention spans. Distractions can keep us from thinking important thoughts: why am I here? Is there any meaning to life? Does God exist? Has He spoken in the Bible? Have I listened to him as I should? The distractions of life can keep us from contemplating the spiritual and eternal. The distractions are not bad in themselves, but they are the temporary and are not meant to fill the spiritual void in our lives that only God can satisfy. But sometimes we must be still to realize the void is there. One of the best things we can do for some of our friends is to get them to slow down and experience quietness, so that the distractions are silenced for a time, and they can begin to feel their own spiritual hunger.
I recognize the danger of distraction. What I’m suggesting that each us needs to carve out some quiet time: a time to read the Bible, a time to pray, time to worship, and a time to contemplate our lives and what is most important.
A man walked off a cliff looking at his cell phone. I wonder how many plummet into eternity only thinking about the distractions of life.