Clear the Mechanism
In 1998, Kevin Costner portrayed an American professional baseball pitcher named Billy Chapel in the film “For Love of the Game”. In the midst of all of the crowd noise, yelling, signals, vendors, and music Billy had to find a way to focus on the pitch that he would ultimately hurl towards the plate. Every nuance of sound and movement was interfering with his ability to focus. In order to fully focus on his target and task at hand, he had to “clear the mechanism” or eliminate the distractions while focusing in on the goal. Was the stadium then empty or the crowd then silent? No. In the midst of this intense focus though was a blending of absorption of what was going on, dealing and prioritizing so to speak, and focusing on the final objective.
As parents, we face a myriad of distractions daily. At times it is hard to focus on the goals to which we are striving. Between breakfast, soccer practice, school projects, dentist appointments, tuba lessons, or an ever thrilling PTA meeting we can find ourselves so buried in distractions that we have a hard time being a spiritual leader in our own homes. “It’s all about priority”, you may say. “As long as you plan everything out, it shouldn’t be an issue to make enough time!” How does that play out? Let me lay a script down for you of an event that recently happened in my home.
I sat downstairs one afternoon preparing for an upcoming sermon. I have three children: Johnathan (9), Ava (7), and Paige (1). I find that in order to put myself in the best place possible for eliminating distraction, I go down to my office in the basement. Generally, my time there is secluded and fairly distraction free. As I sit with commentaries and outlines strewn across the desk, I hear the fire alarm going off upstairs. Am I worried? No. This could be classified as a semi-regular occurrence in my house. We have an over-sensitive fire alarm that can sense when even the most basic things are being cooked in the oven.
I proceed to make my way upstairs, just to be on the safe side, and manage to step on some matchbox cars that I could only ascertain had been training to test their durability on being driven down stairs. Their stunt heroics aside, I eclipse the last stair to find our cat with bells tied to it’s tail. The cat is in full freak out mode because these bells of destruction seem to be following it every place it goes. The cat decides I’m less important than the enemy tied to it’s rear and runs off. As I turn the corner into the kitchen, a Nerf dart flies about 6 inches in front of my face and sticks to the wall next to me. A swarm of stomping neighborhood kids have opened fire on each other and have released a plethora of orange flying projectiles that are bouncing off of random parts of my kitchen. My daughter appears in some sort of princess garb. Apparently since my departure downstairs, she has been given royal powers and flicks her wand to turn me into a frog. Immediate disappointment ensues when she discovers that it doesn’t work. The fire alarm is still going off. My wife is up on a chair trying to fan off the fire alarm to get it to stop singing the song of its people. A random neighborhood boy asks why my wife is on the chair and wants to know my Xbox Live username. I ignore him.
My son, eager to win this battle of dominion over Mulberry Street, appears with a nerf bow and arrow. A projectile flies through the hallway and ricochets off of the wall striking another neighbor kid in the face. It should be noted that this device is rated for outdoor use and shoots arrows that travel up to 100 feet. Poor choice. It was an overpowered weapon in this grand arena. In an effort to avoid the retribution of the neighborhood kid that he just nailed in the face, my son then runs outside with his weapon of choice in tow, leaving the door open a crack. The cat with death bells attached to it’s rear decides that it would rather brave the cruel outdoor world than the foam battlefield and warring tiny humans. The cat escapes outside through the now open door, jing-a-linging as it bounds across the yard. I make a mental note that I’m glad we named the cat “Sadie” as it would probably sound much better me yelling “Johnathan, you let Sadie out AGAIN!” instead of “Johnathan, you let DINGBAT out AGAIN!” I then decide at that instant that I really should have named the cat Dingbat.
Princess Ava in her royal garb appears again to inform the masses that something seems to be wrong with the toilet in the back bathroom because it is just not going down no matter how many times she pushes the handle down. I ask how many times she has pushed the handle. These details are below such royalty. She brushes off the question as another random neighborhood child starts to giggle uncontrollably at the sight of Johnathan chasing Dingbat in the backyard. I check the bathroom and the toilet has now overflowed all over the floor. How could this happen? It couldn’t have anything to do with the seemingly 19 ½ rolls of Charmin that have been stuffed into the toilet along with whatever surprises lurk below it. As I shut the water off at the toilet and stand pondering how to relieve the toilet of it’s Charmin burden, a neighborhood kid pops in to ask me how to connect to my Minecraft server. A very important question in the moment.
30 minutes later. Smoke alarm has been silenced. Toilet mess has been cleaned up. Neighborhood kids have called a truce on the turf war that had erupted and are now thoroughly engaged in the discussion of whether arm-pit farts are better than hand created farts. Princess Ava has decided that the royal life isn’t for her and is engaged in some sort of animated entertainment. Dingbat has been miraculously returned to the indoors and removed of the horrific jingle attached to its butt.
Now where was I?
Even with the immense pressures and distractions that we face each day as Christians, we are called to a Godly vision of leading our family spiritually. This includes time both in His word and in prayer. Dads – we are called in many places in the Bible to be spiritual leaders of our households! How are we living up to that calling? We can set ourselves up properly be keeping God’s word and time of prayer as our focus. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 states “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” In other words, there is never a bad time to bring these things to focus. There is never too small of a time to go to God in a word of prayer. There is never too small of a time to focus on a verse of God’s inspired word and how it can impact our lives.
As you get inundated with distractions this week, you may not know where to start, even just in a simple prayer. One of the great things about God’s word is it gives us examples left and right of how to tackle a situation that we may struggle with. Let me challenge you to approach prayer this week like David did in Psalms 86. Read the chapter and see the following examples of how David prayed to God in confidence:
- “Confident in God’s Character”; Because God is gracious, forgiving, and loving, we can pray to Him in the confidence that He hears us.
- “Confident in God’s Response”; We can pray with the conviction that God will respond to our prayers.
- “Confident in God’s Ways”; When we pray to understand God’s ways and commit to live in them, we can be confident He will make His ways known to us.
In times of distraction, it is wonderful to know that we can have confidence in God to be there to lean on, be there to have a conversation with our creator in the midst of a hectic day, and know that if we seek His will, He will guide us in the path He has for us.
Crazy day? Absolutely. Hectic schedule? For sure! “Clear the mechanism” and rest in the comfort and confidence of our creator.
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