A Distracted People?
We live in an age of distraction. Constant, unyielding distraction that never gives us a moment’s rest. Our cell phones continually remind us of new messages and emails, Facebook and Twitter send us notifications multiple times per hour, and we are constantly being bombarded by media news and commercials. On average, people check their phones every 4.3 minutes all day long. In many ways, this wealth of information is a blessing, but most people have still not developed the needed skills to discern what is most important. How does one develop the necessary criteria to know what should be ignored and what should be stored for future use?
Interestingly, this is not a new problem. Although the means by which we are distracted today are different, and one could easily argue that the amount of distractions has increased in the last century exponentially, the problem itself is not new. In the 1600s, Blaise Pascal said: “I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” His point is simply that human beings are not only distracted, but they constantly seek more distraction and have no time for reflection and consideration of the most important elements of life.
It seems that very few individuals know how to step away from the distractions and think about the most important things in life. It is amazing that some individuals can live for seventy years or more, but never consider the most important aspects of life in all that time. We are too busy running from one thing to the next. Constantly ignoring the moment we are in and not considering what is going on around us. Because of this age of mass distraction, someone has said that the most valuable commodity in the Western World at the moment is “undivided attention.” Does anyone ever receive your undivided attention?
But what does the Bible have to say about all this distraction? Psalm 46:10 commands: “Be still and know that I am God.” What if we were to begin to obey that command. Turn off all the distractions (perhaps literally turning off our electronic devices and our internet access) and spend some quiet time in a room by ourselves? When was the last time you spend 10, 20, or 30 minutes of uninterrupted time thinking about the most important aspects of life? We are told that even Jesus would often go away to lonely places in order to pray and seek his Father’s will (Luke 5:16). If even Jesus needed time away from the crowds to think, pray and commune with God the Father, do we really think we have no need for such quiet time? Do we really believe, as our actions seem to show, that we are stronger than Jesus?
 Jacob Weisberg, “We Are Hopelessly Hooked,” The New York Review of Books (Feb. 25, 2016).
 Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, Letters, and Minor Works, ed. Charles W. Eliot, trans. W. F. Trotter, M. L. Booth, and O. W. Wight (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910), 63.