“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” — Winston Churchill
It’s late in the evening, and my attention is wavering. The possibilities lurking on my computer screen are legion. The latest, breaking news continuously pulls my eyes from the task at hand. Sensational tidbits appear infinitely more interesting than what I originally set out to do: “Drone Transports Newborn Baby to Hospital” … “Russia Threatens World War III” … “Britney Spears Shaves Head Again.” In the twinkling of an eye I am sucked into the latest fluff on the World Wide Web. Twenty minutes later, I awake from my digital daze and realize with chagrin how far I have wandered.
Every day my to-do list is assailed by a thousand beckoning side trips — phone calls, emails, texts. Some are indeed essential to my task, others important for relationship-building. Many are distractions of my own making. It is, after all, easier to yield to sensational siren songs than the discipline of duty.
To be sure, life is not all about drudge and duty. The old prose is right: “Not all who wander are lost.” Sometimes unplanned explorations reap a bounty of jeweled memories not to be found along the beaten path. Perhaps God-ordained “distractions” are now and again introduced to help reorient our bullheaded journeys with divinely-inspired course-corrections.
Yet I admire the example of Nehemiah, who carried out the mission to rebuild Jerusalem with single-minded urgency. He refused to become entangled in a politically correct discussion with Sanballat the Samaritan, saying simply, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.” Dallying in debate would have proved the ruin of all Nehemiah had been tasked to do.
The same may be true of your God-given mission, with these words of encouragement attributed to H.M.S. Richards: “So surely as God has given you a work to do, Satan will try to hinder you … . Keep about your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let corporations resolve, let editors publish, let the devil do his worst; but see to it that nothing hinders you from fulfilling the work that God has given you.”
This counsel is not an endorsement of the narrow-minded, bigoted agendas of folks who have always been among us. Ellen White lamented the “stubborn, self-confident spirit” of gospel workers who refuse to respect the buffering influence and counsel of colleagues.
However, these words do call us to shake ourselves loose, not only from the Sanballats and barking dogs in our midst, but also the digital distractions that imperceptibly steal the minutes and hours of our days.
They call us back to the Word, the source of our mission, the lamp for our feet and light to our path.