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Addiction to the Distraction



 There is a beast who has taken my brain

You can put me to bed, but you can't feel my pain

When the machine has taken the soul from the man

It's time to leave something behind.

Sean Rowe

It was May of 1954. England's Roger Bannister had just broken a world record, completing the mile in three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. However, on June 21st of the same year—only weeks later—John Landy of Australia beat Bannister’s newly set time. Landy ran the mile in three minutes and fifty-eight seconds.

They were the two greatest runners in the world, and, on August 7th of 1954, they would have the opportunity to race one another during the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. The event was being talked about as the “Mile of the Century,” though it would later be known as “The Miracle Mile.” 35,000 fans gathered in person, anticipating history, and they weren’t disappointed.

Towards the end of the race, with only ninety yards to the finish line, John Landy was only steps ahead of Roger Bannister. While it had been an even race, it looked as though victory belonged to Landy. Amazingly, however, it was then that John Landy took his eyes off the finish line, craned his neck, and glanced over his shoulder to check the position of Bannister.

Immediately, Roger Bannister passed him and took the lead!

Bannister, unlike Landy, would not look back.

John Landy lost the race to Roger one second.

He lost because he failed to continually fix his eyes on the finish line, on what really and ultimately mattered. He got distracted. And, in a race where every second counts, that distraction mattered greatly. It was the difference between victory and defeat.


Take a moment.



Now...consider your life.

Consider the years, months, and weeks.

Consider the days, hours, and seconds.

On a journey where every second counts, what does your life look like?

For many of us, and I most certainly include myself, the picture might succinctly be painted as this: "Busy, busy, busy. Work, work, work. Can’t miss out. Gotta, gotta, gotta. Scroll, tap, watch." Tick, tock goes the clock, another second lost. "Repeat, repeat, repeat."

Okay, well, something like that.

Let's be honest. We’re distracted. It's not just that we're distracted, it's that our distraction is keeping us from what really matters and from the One who ultimately matters. Meaning, our souls are craning their necks and glancing somewhere, anywhere, other than the true finish line. Going forward, we must be stubbornly careful, because on a journey where every second counts, our distraction might prove the difference between victory and defeat, freedom and enslavement, peace and misery.


While I could highlight our daunting schedules of chaos—activities, chores, ball games, practices, events, school, work, travel, and so on—as our key distractions, I’m convinced no distraction is quite like that of technology. Take cell phones, as an example, those machines in your hand. In 2016—yes, a lifetime ago—Business Insider picked up on some research. They revealed that the “typical cellphone user [engages] his or her phone 2,617 times every day.” That’s you checking your phone, on average, every 33 seconds…every day! Additionally, for the “extreme cellphone users, [they engage] their phones more than 5,400 times daily.” As in, they check their phones about every 16 seconds…daily!

On a journey where every second counts, those are significant, startling stats! Seriously. It's so significant it’s worth letting those numbers simmer in your soul for sixty seconds. It's also startling to note that TikTok was released two months after that article was posted by Business Insider. I can only imagine today’s stats!

Therefore, stop.

Go ahead.

Let those stats simmer.

We'll wait.




Now, don’t get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with technology. This isn’t an anti-tech rant. Think of it more as an anti-how-we're-spending-our-time rant. After all, I’m using a machine to deliver these words! There’s nothing wrong with phones, tablets, computers. Such devices can be used for great things. We understand this. We know this. The machines are simply tools.

"Hey, then, what’s the problem?"

Well, the problem is we can’t seem to ever put our tools down and STOP WORKING! Our souls are distracted by our tools and the work demanded by our tools. Consciously and subconsciously, the distraction is like an incessant drip, drip, dripping from a broken faucet that demands our attention, our focus: "Gotta snap that pic, take that vid, check that comment, update that email, get that post engagement, play that clip, read that thought, send that text, shop that deal..."




"Oh, c'mon! I'm doing 'useful' things with my tools, my machines!" Yes. I'm sure the analytics would reveal just that, and the future versions of ourselves would adamantly agree that we spent our seconds wisely doing 'useful things' with our machines.

Right. Be honest. We have a problem. We have an addiction to the distraction.

"I don't have a problem! You have a problem!”

Yes, you're right. I do have a problem. I’m as addicted as you are. It’s our problem. The machine, so to speak, has pulled our souls away and kept them gorging on mindless, endless consumption as if we were gluttonous goons. As a result, this beast has produced a personal and societal level of internal (and external) suffering we can hardly grapple with or authentically acknowledge. As in, we feed the machine our souls and what we receive in return, over time, is crippling loneliness, sorrow, fear, suspicion, regret, shame, guilt, anger, or misery. Within ourselves. Within our relationships. Within our communities and cultures. Within our world. After all, “those who run after other gods will [only] suffer more and more...” (Psalm 16:4a, NIV).

“The beast can put us to bed, but it can’t feel our pain.”

Meanwhile, the forces behind such tools keep tweaking and improving their machines—their efficiency, their beauty, their algorithms—to keep our brains drunk on the distraction, enslaved to the endless everything, as "they" wine and dine on our time, if you will. “Keep them coming back! Keep them scrolling! Keep them click, click, clicking! Keep them creating new content, fresh content, any content! Keep them on the tools! No matter the cost, the burden, the misery. Keep them working those machines! At all times and in all places!”

Eventually, in the end, it only keeps us from what really matters.

Most tragically, in the end, it only keeps us from the One who ultimately matters.


We must know that beneath the surface of such zeal for this “work” is an enemy, one that wants to steal, kill, and destroy us.

Consider Exodus 5:1-21.

The request from the two brothers was simple. “Let our people slip away for a few days to rest from their work and to renew their focus on God, to set their souls on what really matters and on the One who ultimately matters.” That was it. That was all Moses and Aaron asked. Three days of rest from work to sit with God, worship God, to fix their souls on God.

“Oh?” came the smug, haughty reply from their enemy. “You want ‘rest’ from your work, ‘rest’ for your soul? You want to spend time with some ‘god’? You must be lazy to want such things! I know the answer to this problem. More work! Work, work, work. Ah! Indeed! We must make more work for you so that you will pay no attention to lies. That is, we must distract you by work, with work, for work! No matter the cost. No matter the burden. No matter the misery. KEEP WORKING!”

The enemy aims to keep us enslaved with so much work that we'll be distracted from what he calls "lies." In reality, however, his goal is to distract us from what really matters and to keep us from the One who ultimately matters. And, utilizing technology, he's quite skillful and successful at his endeavor, evidenced by the fact that so many of us gorge ourselves on tech-eating while hardly ever stopping to wonder why we spend so much of our seconds with our "tools" and our "work"—our machines—and how that time-spent might be correlated to more and more broken, disconnected, and miserable souls, personally and communally.

Open your eyes. Look not at the seen but at the unseen. We've been ambushed, trapped. We're crushed, collapsing under some invisible power, one that lulls us to sleep but never feels our pain. Look around you. Observe. Do we not know what's happening? “[The enemy’s] mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims…are crushed…they collapse; they fall under his strength” (Psalm 10:7-10, NIV).

The enemy's goal of trapping us in his net stands at a chasm's distance in contrast to what the One True God desires for humanity. The enemy wants us trapped in a narrow net of endless work, while never noticing how that leads to defeat, enslavement, and misery. The One True God wants us free in an endless land of eternal rest, while desiring us to see, know, and believe how that leads to victory, freedom, and peace.

For example, Mark 6. The twelve disciples had just returned from an extended trip of work, and they were providing a report to Jesus. But, because so many people were coming and going, causing them to be distracted, they didn’t even have a chance to eat—to do anything—let alone focus their souls on Jesus. So, listen to how Jesus responded to the situation.

“Come [away] with me,” Jesus told the twelve, “by yourselves…to a quiet place...and [find] rest” (Mark 6:31, NIV).

If only we might ignore the enemy, leave our machines behind, and accept Jesus' invitation. In doing so, we might leave our misery behind. In doing so, we might leave our chains behind. In doing so, we might leave our defeat behind. We might find victory, freedom, and rest for our souls on the journey where every second matters.


"Alright, then, what do you propose?"

Simple. We stop. We put our tools down. We take a break from working. We stop allowing ourselves to be continually distracted. We set our souls on the true finish line, on what really matters, on the One who ultimately matters.

If we don’t, we’ll be like Martha in Luke 10. We’ll be troubled with many things, anxiety and fear weighing our souls down, and we’ll be distracted from the one necessary thing in life, which is to be still, sit with, and seek Jesus.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with technology. It's just a tool. A great tool. However, if the machine has taken our souls, then it’s time to leave something behind, or else more suffering will follow.


Take a moment.



Now...consider your life.

Consider the years, months, and weeks.

Consider the days, hours, and seconds.

On a journey where every second counts, what does your life look like?

On a journey where every second counts, what will your life look like going forward?

We must know that distractions can prove the difference between victory or defeat, freedom or enslavement, peace or misery.

Therefore, let us quit letting our souls be distracted.

Let us set our souls on the true finish line, on what really matters, on the One who ultimately matters.

Let us be still with Jesus, sit with Jesus, and seek Jesus.

Let us find rest for our souls.






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Jan 27
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This relates to the week I’ve had! Thanks for reminding me where my focus should be!!

Jonathan Gilliland
Jonathan Gilliland
Jan 28
Replying to

Vickey, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm glad it spoke to you! I know it did me! Good to hear from you!


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