Resistance

Resistance in the form of preoccupation and distraction often prevents us from seeing the truth of our lives, hearing God’s voice, and living a spiritual life.  To listen with obedience to the voice of God requires building up a resistance to all the other voices that compete for our attention.

Henri Nouwen –       Spiritual Direction   with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird

Perhaps every person is a victim of preoccupation and distraction.  A lot is said about Attention Deficit Disorder.  I do believe there is such a thing.   It is observable among the young and old alike.

Many who have made a study of cultural shifts and especially the ill effects of our highly technical age, have said that our gadgets are working against our efforts to focus and specialize on one thing at a time.

I can confirm this in my own experience.  Last summer I got an IPad 2.   It primarily functions as a reader and some note taking and a few photos of the grandkids.  Along the way I have picked up a few games and have a small amount of music and some cartoon videos my grandkids like to watch with pop-paw.

With this little electronic companion has come a variety of applications and capabilities in the palm of my hand.  I can read for a while and then I can check e-mail, then watch a you-tube video and play Angry Birds for a while.  This only contributes to my resistance to long-term focus on any particular thing. 

I used to take one book to a doctor’s appointment to read in the waiting room.  Now I have a library.  I can read C.S. Lewis for a while, then move to Beowulf then a poem or two by Billy Collins.  Even when I stick with one application, I have grown resistant to more than a 20 minute focus on any one text.

I have so many choices. 

I have too many choices for my own good. 

Now, of course, this is nothing new.  I have frequently taken just my Bible with me to a waiting room or to await a flight etc.   And my Bible has a library of 66 books in a palm-sized application.  (I wonder if God thought of it as developing an “app” for that?)  Anyway, there is something emerging in my mind as a new spiritual discipline that I must pursue.

It is called:  focus, attention, fixation, even….horror or horrors….narrowness.

Now back to resistance.  See how easily I got side-tracked from the title of this blog entry???

Resistance is one of the works of the flesh somehow left out of the list in Galatians 5.  Nevertheless I think it is resistance to seeking the way of God that has tripped us up ever since the days in the Garden.  Nouwen is right.

We must learn to listen to the one voice of Jehovah as the One and Only, True and Living God. 

To do anything else is to resist the voice which promises:

“Seek me first and all these things shall be added to you.”

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About Gary Cleveland

An old chunk of coal waiting to become a diamond some day. I spend the bulk of my time focused on spiritual development. I teach, preach and stand by the hurting and wounded. I believe our heavenly Father offers us daily opportunities to discover who we are and what we can yet become. I serve as a bringer of good news in and around the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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2 Responses to Resistance

  1. Distraction reminds me of Matthew 13:22 in which the one who received the seed among thorns is the man who allows the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth to choke it, making it unfruitful. Worry and wealth can be two great distractions.

    But on another note, I sometimes discipline myself while studying to either block off a morning or afternoon in which I will not touch any electronic device but only study from books and articles written on paper. It helps because once I’m on the computer there is no telling where all I’ll end up.

    • Gary Cleveland says:

      Thanks Wade, Perhaps if Paul were writing today he might change his words from: When I am weak, then am I strong to something like: when I am unplugged, then am I really connected…. 🙂

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