by: Graham Ashcraft
For most of my life I have not been what you would call the most detailed person.
I once flew back to college only to arrive at the airport and realize I left my car keys back home. More recently (like a month ago), I returned a rental car to the airport, took the bus back into Manhattan, and realized as I stepped off the bus that I left my house keys in the rental car.
On a youth beach retreat in 2009, we were stranded in hotel parking lot for 30 minutes trying to go home because I could not find the bus keys. A youth found them in the trash in the dumpster. Yes, that means one of my youth was inside the dumpster. (Shockingly, I have somehow never lost my keys, I only misplace them.)
But my proudest not-paying-attention-to-the-details moment came at the end of the beach retreat.
The absolute exhaustion that hit me after the last youth left with his parents was overwhelming. I just wanted to go park the bus, go home, and pass out.
The bus was to be parked far away from the portico above. However, I also needed to unload a few coolers by the kitchen. Had I parked the bus, a 100yd walk in 90 degree heat awaited me. In my exhausted state, I had the brilliant idea that I would drive the bus up to the kitchen, drop off the coolers, and then park.
Problem was, I knew, but forgot in my tiredness, that the bus was 12ft tall and the portico was only 11ft tall.
I soon discovered that a bus traveling at 5mph can cause quite a violent collision with an aluminum portico.
At first, the portico did not fall. But when I backed up and separated the bus from the portico, with the portico taking chunks of the bus with it, the great fall was inevitable. Adrenaline replaced exhaustion as I rushed inside to sheepishly report what happened.
These stories are funny and self-deprecating but they also tell a greater story.
In each of these situations I became distracted. In my excitement to return to college, I didn’t check to make sure I packed everything. Returning the car to the airport, I began thinking about everything I needed to get done before going back to work the next day. At the beach retreat I was making sure everyone else had their things. And parking the bus, I was tired.
Distractions can make for funny stories like mine, but they can also carry more severe consequences.
David was distracted by Bethsheba. Paul killed Christians because he was distracted by law. Judas was distracted by his own thoughts of who the Messiah should be.
So I ask, what distracts you?
What distracts you from being the best friend you can be to others? What distracts you from helping those in need in the best ways you know how? What distracts you from being the the best husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend you can be? What distracts you from being the most faithful follower you can be?
I find that the days I am most distracted are the days that I have not taken time to sit and center myself in God in the mornings, even if it is just for 5 minutes. I find that when I have even a short time of Sabbath, I get in touch with parts of myself that I often forget are there. My imagination. My creativity. My true desires. My worth as a child of God.
When I take time to center myself in God, I find it much easier to dismiss the distractions of the day, big or small. And when I dismiss the distractions of the day, it’s much easier to find my keys.