Has this ever happened to you? You have just gotten your self all psyched up to get some things done around the house to make it better (like cleaning the oven, landscaping the front yard, or painting the spare bedroom, etc.), and just as you begin… the phone rings and the next thing you know you are talking to a friend for almost an hour. So, you hang up the phone and get ready to start again but then you notice the dog has escaped through the backyard fence again, and you have to spend the next 45 minutes chasing him around the neighborhood. When you get home you find out, unfortunately, the dog has rolled in the mud and needs a bath… another 30 minutes down the drain! Now, it’s lunch time but there is no food in the house so you get in the car and go down the street to the nearest Wawa to pick up a sandwich and figure, while your out, you might as well get that prescription filled for the kid’s allergies… an hour. When you get home you, once again, get ready to start and you turn on the TV for some background noise… but your favorite movie from 1993 happens to be showing on cable. As hard as you try to work, you wind up on the couch watching… for two hours. At this point it is getting towards late afternoon and the chance to do any of the ‘home improvement’ you planned has passed you by.
As often as this happens in our daily life like this… so too does it happen when we try and commit to ‘self improvement’. There are always a million little things picking away at our time and attention and, if we are not careful, the days will pass away without us ever making positive change and gaining good momentum in life and faith.
One of the first tragic stories about faith and sin in the Bible comes in Genesis 4:7:
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.
It is God talking to Cain before Cain strikes out in jealousy to murder his brother. Cain was swallowed up because he couldn’t turn his downward negative momentum (in jealousy and hate) into positive momentum (doing what he could to honor God). Most of us don’t face such critical confrontations with sin… but there is a lesson here for us.
If we set ‘following God’ as our priority and remain proactive in working towards that end… then we are less likely to be swallowed up by the multitude of distractions (and our worst short-comings) that each day offers. We are called to ‘master’ our selves and our time for good and for God.
If we don’t… we are just contributing to the chaos.