Distracted: July 2024 Everyday Faith Calendar

June 14, 2024 Emily Hatesohl

We’ve all felt the struggle. When you’re sitting in an awkward waiting room, when your kid asks you the same question over and over, when you’re tired at the end of a long day—we struggle to be present. We struggle against the distraction in our pockets, that glowing rectangle that can instantly fix our boredom. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. Smartphones are seemingly essential in today’s world, but they also make it so hard to stay focused on the people around us. We are easily pulled away from reality, easily disinterested, and easily tempted to avoid giving someone our full attention.

What about at church? Do you feel distracted sitting in the pew? I know I do—we have two kids under age 3! And we probably distract others from fully focusing on the sermon (we do our best, but also … we have two kids under age 3). Maybe you want to do a devotion at home, but your mind is elsewhere. You have to go back and read the same paragraph again and again. Then the oven goes off and your phone buzzes and you should really switch the laundry quickly. It’s hard not to multitask in this world’s hustle culture. It’s hard to stay focused on anything, even God’s Word.

God’s Presence

But thanks be to God that He is never distracted. He is never overwhelmed. He gives us His full attention, His full presence. God is present with us through His Word and Sacraments. He is present with us through Jesus. He sends us His Holy Spirit to live in us. He listens to our prayers, anytime, day or night.

He promises us His presence again and again in Scripture:

  • “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
  • “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23)
  • “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. … Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:16–17, 19–20)
  • “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

God does not grow bored. He isn’t half-listening while He sends a quick email or unloads the dishwasher. Even when we might feel far from Him, He has never left us. He wraps us in His warm embrace with His comforting words and with His very body and blood in Holy Communion. He sends us fellow Christians to encourage us and walk with us. He promises that one day we will see and touch Him for ourselves in that amazing new creation, where all distractions and worries will cease.

The Gift of Presence 

Filled with the love and presence of the Lord, we can give the people around us the gift of being fully present with them. It may be messy and imperfect, but with the help of God, we can avoid the temptation to escape to something that seems more entertaining or do something that seems more productive. Instead, we can focus on the real relationships around us that need to be tended in simple and meaningful ways.

Consider these five ways to give someone the gift of your full attention and presence this week:

  • Put away phones at the table (this includes the break room at work).
  • Play with your child for thirty minutes straight without checking your phone or getting up to do something else.
  • Read a devotion and pray with your spouse every night before bed.
  • When you get together with family or friends, play a board game or sit outside to talk after supper instead of migrating to the couch and television.
  • Strike up a conversation with someone in a waiting room, after Bible study, or at your child’s sporting event.

We will always be distracted in this life. It’s a broken and demanding world, and we are sinful people. But by the grace of God, we can imperfectly show up for the people around us and give them the gift of our love and presence, because Christ has given His love and presence so perfectly to us.

Scripture: ESV®.

Download the Everyday Faith Calendar, where we focus on the Holy Spirit. You will find short Bible readings and prayer prompts for each day.

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