by Annie*, a Live Dead Arab World missionary

I was talking with a friend recently about abiding. She remarked, “For me, afternoon works best. I set aside an hour at the ministry center where I spend most of my evenings. But it’s uncanny: no matter how much I clear my calendar and remove all potential interruptions, something unplanned always thwarts my time with Jesus. A pipe breaks. Someone stops by. One of my teachers calls to cancel and I have to find a substitute. Something always happens to distract me from my designated ‘abiding’ time.”

I’m sure you’ve experienced it too. We recognize the need to spend focused time abiding with Jesus. We prioritize it and create space for it. Yet there are always emergencies, distractions, interruptions. Sometimes they’re external, and sometimes they’re internal.

I’ve begun to see these distractions as the little foxes spoken of in Song of Solomon 2:15:

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Our vineyard (our ministry, our work) is in full bloom. It’s active, growing, thriving. But if we’re not careful, the little foxes (our sins to which we turn a blind eye, external distractions, our failure to prioritize well) will come to visit and stick around, impeding the growth of our vineyard.

I like to think my time is my own, but so often it’s not. Perhaps I’ve overcommitted. Maybe I have an open door policy, which is good for others, but keeps me from growing deeper roots. No matter what my day involves, I must choose to steward my time well. I must push through moments of distraction, interruptions. And when (not if, but when) I fail, my prayers are these:

God, forgive me.

Forgive me for the times when the distractions are inside me – my lack of focus or desire, my procrastination, my excuses.
God, redeem the time.

Redeem those moments when the distractions were beyond my control. Remind me that quantity does not concern You; quality does. Quantity can be wasted; quality is where I see a real spiritual difference.

The distractions and interruptions may never go away. Even when it takes a great deal more energy, we must find a way to push through, because “beyond the struggle is where the breakthrough happens.”

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