Tuned In

Colossians 1:21-23 (the message)
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message–just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.

As I read from Paul’s letter to the Colossians this morning I found my heart touched by this idea of being “constantly tuned in” to the Message. Tuned in to Jesus, to His Spirit’s voice in our lives, to His Word and the peace of yielded living. I was struck by the wording…careful not to be distracted or diverted.

Did you know that even good things can be a distraction if we begin to focus more on them than Jesus?

See, I’m kinda thinking that distraction is the beginning of diversion. And I don’t think the devil cares one iota if the distraction is “good” or “bad” as long as it draws our eyes and hearts away from a truly intimate connection with Creator. And I’m thinking that for the well-meaning Christ-follower diversion is a slippery slope. It’s sneaky and subtle and at first we don’t even know we are distracted, but in time we find perhaps we have been diverted from God’s best, God’s plans, God’s presence in our everyday lives.

We are no longer constantly tuned in. Our signal is filled with static and in time we may grow weary of straining to hear. Alas, we have been diverted.

Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that!

When God has taken our broken lives and put us back together, we are forever aware of the reality of His love. When the truth of grace finally dawns in our striving hearts, we love Jesus in a heart-twisting way that changes who we are. And Paul is right, you can’t just walk away. You don’t.

You become distracted.

Diverted.

There is no other Message–just this one.

We may find ourselves distracted by responsibilities, crisis, career, ministry duties, sin or a skewed perspective. It won’t matter what is distracting us from His presence, what will matter is the outcome. For often once we realize we have been distracted and diverted it is in an unfamiliar or oddly old and familiar place. Regardless of the zip code the landmarks are still the same:

Hard-heartedness
Lack of passion and zeal
Irritability
Striving
Discouragement
Self-pity
Self-absorption
Pride
Envy
Condemnation

How precious to be constantly tuned in. How priceless to walk though our days sensitive to the voice of His Spirit and joyfully responding. How amazing to live wide-eyed in wonder when we recognize His touch in the way He orchestrates our days…our “chance” meetings. How fulfilling to let go, to let Holy Spirit lead and direct as we listen and yield. How comforting. How extraordinary is the most ordinary day when the signal is strong…when the love of God pulses through our lives with every beat of our hearts.

We were made for this kind of living.

For tuning in.

There is no other message. There is no other way. There is no other path or formula for joy, peace, purpose and provision. There is only Jesus. His Word. His voice. His touch.

I was ruined a while back. Like an old-fashioned radio I finally hit the sweet spot on the dial and Grace and Love came in crystal clear. More precious than diamonds, more healing than therapy, more fulfilling than my wildest dream was this tuned-in living.

In hindsight I can see distraction encroaching on my signal. But I didn’t know…was not as learned and mature as I thought…and so even the blessings of God subtly distracted my time and heart. Because I did not know and was perhaps too prideful to seek counsel I began to struggle. In time I was searching more for answers than for His presence. Was looking into why instead of His face.

Diverted. From His best, from purpose and passion.

And now, in this age of technology and instant everything I want an app for my diverted living. I want an instant fix. I want to message myself back to stronger-signal days. Oh how I want to fast-forward or rewind…skip this scene…get to the next season. Smile. Somewhere in my heart I hear the faint reminder it is in the slow and seemingly fatal moments of failure we grow.

If only we tune back in. Look for Him.

He wants to be found.

Philip Wagner, a guest speaker at our church this weekend, said something so profound yesterday. His words hit my heart like so many arrows…piercing my doubt and condemnation…making way for hope and promise and reassurance. He said this:

The enemy is not attacking you for who you are right now, he’s attacking you because of who you are meant to become.

A slow sigh…a recognition that this life is not a SmartLife. My heart is not an iHeart. I cannot make a spiritual playlist and skip over the seasons and stuff I don’t like. No, it’s an old-fashioned boom box. Sometimes it’s heavy and bulky and you gotta get close enough to hear while you slowly turn the dial…while God, in His timing, leads you into the sweet spot where you find the clearest signal.

Distraction is powerful. Diversion can be devastating.

And now I actually know something I thought I already knew.

Proverbs 4:23, 25-27 (the message)
Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.

Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.

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