Summary: Fifth in a series in the book of Nehemiah. This message explores the potential landmine of distractions that can derail a vision including opportunities, criticism, and fear.
We are continuing to glean wisdom and advice towards pursuing 20/20 vision from the book of Nehemiah. You have heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again. Take some time, maybe 30 minutes, in the next few days or weeks, and read through the book of Nehemiah in one setting. We are only scratching the surface of this incredible story. And there are parts we have and will skip that you will want to read. As well as following how the pieces we have looked at fit into the puzzle.
Last week we explored the first landmine that can destroy your vision. Opposition, often in the form of criticism. Opposition that can keep you from completely focusing in on that vision God has for your life. That can keep you from fully pursuing that dream that God would want to fulfill in your life. It can take all your hopes and plans, and blow them out of the water if you aren’t careful. But that is not the only landmine to be aware of.
As you focus in on your vision. As you pursue that call on your life from God. And as we, the church, move towards that place of obedience and ministry that the Lord would call us to in Lexington, there is another landmine that can derail us. . .distractions.
We humans are a highly distractible group of people. Think of how little it would take to turn your attention from this message. Some feedback in the sound system. A disorderly child on the other side of the sanctuary. A growling stomach. A siren passing by the church. A pacing pastor. The temperature. Just a few degrees too low, or a few degrees too high. . .the difference between 72 and 68 can be all it takes to distract us from where our attention should be.
And that in itself would not necessarily be a problem, but here is the problem. Life is full of distractions. Simply being highly distractible is not a big deal in a controlled environment, but life is not a controlled environment. It is full of distractions, and those distractions are constantly taking us from the path God would have us journey down. The path of our vision.
You see, here is the problem phrased another way. Life is now. Bills are now. Crisis is now. Things have to be dealt with now. Vision. . .that’s later. We can get around to that down the road. There are too many things in front of us right now that have to be attended to.
So it looks like this. . .we’ll get out of debt after our kids graduate from college and get their own homes established. Or we’ll spend more time together as husband and wife, work on our relationship, when our children have moved out and its just the two of us. Or we’ll settle into a community, and really get connected after one more job promotion and relocation. Or we’ll build friendships after one more degree and academic achievement. It looks like, we’ll get involved in ministry after a few more months getting our lives together, and our house in order.
You see, life is now. The chaos is our existence is now. So vision gets pushed back, starts to blur, and the distractions become the center of attention.
Andy Stanley in his book "Visioneering" gives the example of weddings. He talks about a common phenomena where as the wedding date gets closer the couple thinks less and less about the marriage, and more and more about the wedding. Especially the brides, but even family members. As the day grows closer, everyone is constantly checking in on all the details, making sure the "things" for the wedding have been tackled, and we ask fewer and fewer questions about the marriage, making sure relationship issues have been tackled.
That’s an understandable dynamic, but it is not necessarily a good one. Often the wedding, a good thing, distracts the couple’s attention from the marriage, a great thing. And for the most part, Stanley point out, there are very few ugly weddings, but there are plenty of ugly marriages.
He shares that on a few occasions he has suggested to a couple that they postpone their wedding. And the objections he hears are always the same. . .
"The invitations have already been printed."
"Friends and relatives have already adjusted their vacation schedule."
"The hall has already been reserved."
"Everything has already been planned."
The wedding plans are always the issue, and the wedding becomes the driving force in the decision process. . .rather than the original vision. . .a lifelong marriage of happiness together.
We are easily distractible, and that means that our visions are easily distracted, but Nehemiah provides a wonderful answer for defeating those distractions to your vision. Nehemiah, Chapter 6. The majority of the wall is finished. The vision seems almost complete. All that they have left to do is to hang the doors in the gateways to the city. It would appear that nothing can stop this vision from coming to completion.