Recently I was asked if I ever ran into obstacles when it came to memorizing scripture. I smiled to myself and answered that the word “obstacle” is an extremely familiar word to me! It seems that whenever I set out to deepen my relationship with the Lord, whether it is through scripture memorization, reading His Word, or even praying, something tries to hinder my growth. The obstacle that seems to get in my way the most is the obstacle of "distraction".
I am one of those people who need to have it quiet when I read or study. I know others can have the TV or music on and it actually helps them to concentrate, but I need quiet to truly let my mind stay on task. So, I've made it a practice to get up early, before the rest of the household is awake, and have my coffee and quiet time with the Lord. It is during that time which is mostly free from distractions I am better able to focus on the Lord and His word for me. But, this wasn’t always an easy thing for me to do.
It was difficult to condition myself to get up early every morning, especially when the bed is warm and comfortable. When my eyes first open, it would be so easy to close them again and let myself slip back into the restful stillness of sleep. However, since I have learned to fight against my natural urge to stay in bed I have found that a wonderful time awaits me during those early morning hours spent with the Lord. But how do we accomplish this?
Many of you may remember the movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. In it, one of the most memorable characters, Lone Waite, is speaking to Josey about the challenges facing the Native Americans during the difficult era following the Civil War. He quotes a headline in the newspaper and ponders its meaning, “Endeavor to Persevere”. I love that phrase, but how do we put it into practice?
Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1b-2: “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…” We need to be determined to keep going. God will give us the strength and help us to avoid distractions if we keep our eyes on Jesus. By endeavoring to persevere, we will live out the verse, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). And our prize is our relationship with Christ.
In order to avoid the obstacle of distraction which attempts to interfere with my desire to develop my relationship with Christ, I have chosen to get up early and “run the race with endurance.” Though it is still difficult at times, it is getting easier and easier to get up before my tired body wants to crawl out of bed. But I know that like any relationship, my relationship Christ blossoms under the proper attention. So, by overcoming the distractions in my life and staying focused, I find that my relationship with the Lord is deepening with every moment I spend alone with Him. I am endeavoring to persevere.