There is never a time that your Pastor’s attention wavers from its laser beam-like focus on God’s Word. Well, except for basketball season. Oh yeah, and when driving cool cars. Or when something comes up with his wife or kids. Or friends. But other than that, laser beam focus. Yeah.
In seminary, I was taught that your first vocation, or calling, is always to God, then your family, then your work. But it is sometimes really hard to keep things in order. Your eyes and mind get distracted, pulled away, by the things of the world. I know the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me”, (Exodus 20:3) but it is so easy to let other gods slip in.
I know, I know, we aren’t building golden calves in our backyard and saying, “this is my god” but anything that displaces God from the center of your life can become an idol so quickly. People bow at the altars of sports, and money, and sleep, and popularity, and so many other things, quickly losing their focus on God. People try to change God from the God revealed to us in His Word into something more to their tastes, making their own God in this way, as well. Idols are so easily built. But what can you do?
First things first. Make God’s Word a priority. A recent survey showed that only about 20% of those identifying as Christian read their Bible regularly. I don’t know about you, but I have to read books in order to ingest the material in them. Sleeping on them doesn’t really help. And the Word of God is more important than any other book. The Word of God comes with a promise, “so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I purpose, And shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 5:11) So get into God’s Word regularly and with joy knowing that, through it, He is doing wonderful things, like giving you strength and faith to make it through whatever would distract you, and bringing you back to God.
Also, remember to gather together. God has given you a wonderful gift, a Church. You have a family forged in the water of baptism. It is a place of refuge, a place of strength. So be in it. “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) God meets you in Church with Word and Sacrament. He meets you there with loving arms in His people and body and blood in His Sacrament.
There we gather and are strengthened, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1) Our focus may waver, but Jesus’ does not. He is there waiting for you, ready to strengthen you. Ready to help you focus as you run your race.