If success in the Christian life depends on our continuous connection with (abiding in) Christ; then our greatest threat is distraction. Distraction leads to disconnection.
Distraction refers to anything or anyone that leads us to loosen our dependence on Christ. We often blame a ‘particular weakness’ or temptation for our failures. However, those are only the fruits of distraction. As Ellen G. White suggests, we cannot keep ourselves from sin for even a moment without Christ[i]. But, in Christ, we are an impregnable fortress.
This principle came home to me very clearly through an experience I had while working in the Bay Islands of Honduras. The Bay Islands is a group of 3 small Islands off the coast of Honduras. I lived in the largest one (Roatan). To get on the mainland you travel either by plane or ferry. The first time I travelled to the mainland, I travelled via the ferry.
While boarding the ferry, I noticed a young lady was handing out paper bags to all the passengers. I did not know for what reason, and I did not see the need for it, so I didn’t take any. Halfway the journey I started to regret my decision. I started to feel nauseous. Luckily, I did not throw up. I was able to make it through the 1 ½ hour journey without giving in to my seasickness.
On my way back, I met a friend (a tourist from Canada). I told him about my experience while coming. He explained to me what happened and gave me good advice. He said it was the “see-saw” movement of my eyes that caused the nauseous feeling. He said, once I can prevent my eyes from moving, I could prevent nausea. To do that, I need to find the horizon and fix my eyes on it. I did that, and it worked. At least for a while until I got distracted and forgot to keep my eyes on the horizon.
I learned a lesson that day about keeping my eyes on Jesus. I realize how big an issue distraction is. I learned that I must do whatever it takes to keep my eyes on Jesus.
For some Christians, the problem is not knowing the "right" things to do; the problem is distraction. We know that for us to grow spiritually, we need to read our Bible, pray, go to church, obey the Holy Spirit and exercise faith. However, sometimes we get distracted by so many seemingly important things that we forget to do the things that are most important (Luke 10:38-42).
In addition to that, when we get distracted, Satan leads us into sin and by the time we get back on track, we begin to question whether doing the "right" things can truly protect us from temptations. We begin to think that success in the Christian walk is so elusive that no one can truly have that success when the real problem is that we got distracted. Not that we failed to do the right thing (the things that contribute to our growth) but that we failed to keep doing them. We fail to guard against distractions.
This is my word of encouragement to you dear reader. That you will not only understand what it takes to grow spiritually but that you will do them and keep on doing them. Let God take care of the miracle of growth. Just keep your eyes on the horizon. Keep your eyes on the only constant in this world—that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" (Philippians 1:6).
This is an excerpt from the book, On Becoming a Mature Christian: How to Experience Consistent Victory in the Christian Life by Damian Chambers, Assistant Professor, School of Religion and Theology
[i] Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, 179