“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and give me life in your ways.” Psalm 119:37
Twice, this week, I came close to being involved in an accident because of a distracted driver. In both cases, the drivers were not watching where they were headed. Their focuses were on something inside their vehicle.
In Mississippi, there is a law against texting while driving. While the fine is $100 for driving while engaging social media or texting, the fine increases to $1,000 when someone is injured because of the distracted driving.
Years ago, the major distraction in our vehicles was the radio and maybe the “vent window.” (Some of you may need to research what a “vent window” is.) Now, there are so many accessories to entertain us as we travel, we don’t have time or space to list them.
Though simpler days are gone, the focus of the driver should be the same. We should keep our eyes on the road. The focus should be arriving safely at our destination. If we don’t arrive safely, nothing else matters.
Notice a few relevant points from Psalm 119:37: First, realize that our focus is a personal choice. What we love or desire takes priority on our focus. Billboards, flashing signs, cell phones, movies, and even other people can become our consuming focus. In life, money, fame, success, acclaim, will be our focus if that is what we desire the most. Spiritually, our purpose in this life is to live for the Lord. We choose to live with purpose, or we choose to live distracted. Either way our choice is significant.
Second, realize that choices can be lifesaving or dangerous. Many choices are like a text about what someone is eating in a restaurant. It may be interesting, but it should not affect life for us. Other choices are indispensable. Noticing when to proceed and when to stop may mean the difference between life or death. The same is true the spiritual path we take. The life of faith is meant to be lived every day, not just in church on Sunday.
So, the psalmist makes a wise request. He asks God to help him not be distracted. The way God turns our eyes is He shows us a fresh expression of His loving presence. He prompts us when we are tempted to look somewhere else for life and purpose. One day, when we safely reach our home with the Lord, we will be glad we kept from being distracted by worthless things and made the Lord our priority each day.
A distracted driver traveling 60 miles per hour covers 80 feet per second. Just think how far they travel to read the latest text. How long has it been since you looked up spiritually? Maybe its time to look up and see how far you have gone without reference to your destination you dream of enjoying one day. What you desire the most will be your focus. Make God your focus and you will be more confident in where you are headed.
Dr. John Temple is chaplain of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office. From the Shepherd's Heart is published Fridays in The Meridian Star.