If people watching was a legitimate hobby it would definitely be mine. Wherever there are people there is something interesting happening. My favourite places are in big cities or major airports where not only is there a plethora of people, but the diversity and individuality are equally abundant. I could sit there for hours – not in a weirdo stalker way, but as a witness to our society and with complete intrigue and awe. I love watching different people meet; from the long-separated lovers who forget we are all right here (hello!), to the children running and launching into safe embraces of parents and grandparents, to girlfriends catching up with shrill enthusiasm and even the corporate ‘properness’ of business meetings. These are the highlight reels of people watching! As interesting to me though are those alone. Some are on constant calls, some scrolling as they walk, some looking purposeful in their strong stride, some looking lost and some rare ones looking like they’re happily soaking in their surrounds. Everyone is on a journey. Everyone is heading somewhere, but have you ever wondered as I have; are they going the right way?
As a self-confessed social observer, I often muse about the lives of others and indeed my own. Am I doing the things I am meant to be? Am I in active pursuit of that to which I am called and destined or have I reduced myself to only tending to the urgent demands of life – or gotten completely distracted by something delightful? I ponder these things about myself and also others around me. I see people that grow in who they are and in their purpose and with focus pursue all that God dreamed over their lives. I see others that are maxed out with potential yet don’t do much with it. They start out strong but then along comes distractions and the delightful ones seem the most potent and successful in sideswiping them long term.
Delightful distractions are dangerous. At least the ones I’m talking about here. They’re dangerous because they slip under our own radars due entirely to their delightfulness. Distractions like cleaning the house or tending to tasks, or urgent needs are pretty obvious and carry the common trait to all normal distractions – they’re annoying! Serious procrastinators will settle for even mundane distractions if they are looking for them, but for the most part we don’t consciously choose to be detoured by distractions. That is unless they are delightful! Delightful distractions are so appealing – when you need to finish your study, but a friend called to invite you out. When you have renovations to complete, but the opportunity for a holiday presented itself. When you have a job or position that you feel called too, or that has deeper purpose in your life, but then you get offered something else that won’t be as fulfilling, but it pays double… this is the trap of delightful distractions!
They are a trap because we so easily go with the most fun option, the quickest reward option, the option that meets a self-seeking need of ‘looking the part’ in whichever script we long to live. They entice and tantalise and you’d also be correct if you’re thinking there’s nothing wrong with any of those things! We need to have fun, to go out with friends, to earn an income. God definitely has good things for us too – I am not in any way suggesting there is only delight in the wrong direction. God brings us delights as well. The trick is discerning when the delightful distraction is actually luring you away from living in the fullness God has planned for you. When you sacrifice your future at the feet of your delightful distraction you have swallowed the bait! Over time the dreams of your heart and the whisper of your spirit are drowned out by the rambunctious call of delightful distractions and pretty soon they are so quiet you barely remember them let alone do anything about them.
When Eve ate the forbidden fruit it was driven by delight and desire; ‘when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise and insightful, she took some of its fruit and ate it’ (Gen 3:6). I’ll bet you it was plump and loaded with an inviting aroma! It was the delightfulness of the fruit that caught her attention. The desire to be something she was not. Vary rarely is anyone lured away from calling and purpose with something terrible! Occasionally hurt, offence or misfortune strike, but more often than not our eyes are drawn to something delightful. Living in delightful distraction can look and seem like a good thing – It might carry greater wealth, security, status symbols or notoriety – and let’s face it that ALL those things appeal to ALL of us. Especially if they arrive on the scene when any of those things are lacking and longed for.
The hidden cost of a delightfully distracted life is that it brings death to the word of God. At first it’s just a small distraction, a little detour, just a little pleasure – and it feels so good! I bet that fruit tasted so good as it burst in Eve’s mouth. (I’d also bet she never regretted anything more!) Jesus spoke of people living in delightful distractions in the parable of the sower, aligning them with the seed sown amongst thorns. Jesus said that, ‘the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless (Mark 4:19). Basically, we worry about things, we get distracted by the delightful things around us that we desire, and the result? Our delightful distractions are actually suffocating the God out of us!
Today I want to make an appeal on behalf of the hidden dream in your heart, for the God-given-purpose that is written into your DNA, for the calling yet fulfilled – remember! Remember God’s call and His promise. He will deliver, He will carry it through to completion and He will go beyond what you can even imagine. I also want to call a lie a lie; when delightful distractions entice and beckon, they come laced with the lie that the path you are on and the God you pursue cannot deliver and cannot fully satisfy. That you are better off relying on yourself and making your own way. This is a lie! I also want you to remember that if there was not great reward, both now and in eternity attached to your calling and purpose there would be no need to bombard you with such delightful (and customised) distractions! Stay the path. Re-find the path. Let the word remain in your heart and watch the fruit grow and multiply. There is nothing more fulfilling and life giving than following the Creator of life. The creator and author of your life – and He only writes best-sellers.