Archbishop François Fénelon (1651-1725) noticed now that the war was over and people got back to their routines, their constant seeking God for help in times of trouble faded, and they gave God less and less of their attention and time. As a result, church attendance lessened, their focus was more on feeding their stomachs than feeding their souls. So, the Bishop cautioned them by sharing wise words of the past.

He reminded them that St. Augustine once said that “Whatever we love outside God, so much the less do we love Him.” It is like a river from which a farmer digs a channel to redirect water for personal use. Such a diversion takes away from what belongs to God and gives rise to aggravation and trouble, God desires to have everything, and His love for us cannot endure a divided heart. The slightest affection apart from Him becomes a hindrance and causes indifference and consequent separation. The soul can expect to find peace only through love that holds nothing back.

Fénelon sees that such disintegration of commitment to God among His people is a great enemy of remembering what they used to be before He came into their lives. The reactivation of old feelings for worldly things activates and distracts the soul and drives it from its proper resting place. Further still, it kindles the senses and the imagination, and to quiet them again is hard to do, while the very effort to do so is in itself inevitably a distraction.

So, urges the bishop, give quiet, calm attention to those things assigned to your care by the Lord. Then, gaining wisdom and insight from God’s Word of what to do during seasons when their heart is open to instruction will ensure the accomplishment of a great deal more by quiet, thoughtful work done while God looks on rather than hidden from God’s sight by all the busy eagerness and overactivity of our restless human nature.[1]

So, what can God’s Word tell us about being distracted from doing what He called us to do for His pleasure, not ours? One way would be to listen to what Moses told the Israelites about their mission to live and work in the Promised Land for His glory. The chosen prophet said to them that if they listen obediently to the Voice of God, their God, and heartily obey all His commandments that he issued that day, God, their God, would place them high above all the nations of the world. All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of God, your God. Moses then goes on the spell out those blessings.[2]

However, Jesus, often a man of few words, states plainly, “where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” [3] That’s why His disciple, James, told his readers not to fool themselves into thinking that they are good listeners when they let God’s Word go in one ear and out the other.[4] And the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians what he wanted them to do whatever would help them serve the Lord best, with as few other things as possible to distract their attention from Him.[5]

So, keep in mind that “distraction” is defined as things that prevent someone from concentrating on what they need to be doing. In fact, a diversion is an activity a person gets involved in for their immediate pleasure. Our goal is the kingdom of God while here on earth so that we can join our King in heaven.

[1]  Fénelon, François: Paraclete Giants, The Complete Fénelon, Translated and Edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2008, pp. 27-28; Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda

[2] See Deuteronomy 28:1-14

[3] Matthew 6:21

[4] James 1:22

[5] 1 Corinthians 7:35

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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