Are we interrupted or permanently distracted?

“On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to him, ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected'” (Luke 13:31-32 NKJV).

Increasingly there seems to be fewer hours in the day and days in the week. There is so much to be done, and so little time in which to do it. But here in South Asia there are continuous interruptions to further complicate matters. Hartals (strikes; known as “hartals” in Bangladesh and “bundhs” in Nepal) are called frequently, which halt all business and travel. They may be local or national, for a few hours, or for one or more days. They may be political protests, part of demands for better working conditions, or attempts to procure reimbursement for the victims of a traffic accident or other tragedy.

Even when there are no strikes there is the continuous problem of inadequate power supply. Most of the less-developed nations do not have enough generating power to meet modern demand for electricity. Nor do they have the economic strength to purchase power from outside sources (if those are even available – most of their neighbors don’t have enough for themselves) or to build or operate additional generators.

The result is power outages, sometimes up to 12 or more hours per day. The local name is “load shedding,” which suggests their real purpose of rationing electricity. In a modern world, much depends on available power. Without it lights go out, temperatures rise in buildings, and computers must soon be shut down. Work grinds to a halt.

There is also the question of multiple religions and their various festivals and holy days. With Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and other religions there are many times when everything halts for a celebration. There are the “Eids” of the Muslims, various “Pujas” of the Hindus and Buddhists, and of course such Christian holidays as Christmas and Easter. Add to these the holidays and memorial days of national purpose and time lost to work adds up quickly.

How does one counter these constant distractions? Other techniques may be presented, but one effective method is to be clear about priorities, as Jesus was when threatened by Herod. Asked to leave the area, he replied that he was too busy to be deterred by a secular ruler. Jesus knew the purpose for which he came to this world. He was determined to fulfill that purpose, no matter what it took.

Another great example of this principle is given in the Old Testament (Nehemiah 6:1-3). Nehemiah helped the Jews rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Enemies asked him to come down to the plains and talk to them about what he was doing. He replied, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”

Some distractions cannot be avoided. But we can often work around them and find ways to prevent them from hindering our efforts. To do that, we must continually remember our goals and priorities. Perhaps the Hebrew writer said it best:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

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