Driving through fog, especially the freezing kind we encountered in Alberta in January, is wearying but also dangerous. A race car driver here in the US is experiencing brain fog as a result of a serious concussion from a wreck and is not yet cleared to race. People with cataracts in their eyes see as though in a fog also and are limited in what they feel safe doing (sometimes they are unaware just how poor their vision has become until the cataracts are removed and they are astonished at how crystal clear everything becomes). Fog is a distraction in each of these cases.
Remember Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare? The hare was distracted by his ego and his speed when compared with that of the tortoise’s slow, plodding pace. To his great surprise, he lost that race because of his miscalculation of time spent lounging around. Distraction strikes again! (relating as I do with the tortoise, my guilty secret is that I have always been over-zealous to gloat in hearing the story of the hare’s defeat – so now y’all know).
Years ago there was a saying, variably expressed: ‘Sometimes the good is the enemy of the best.’ And I think this is the kind of distraction that is more difficult to discern. In themselves, quite obviously, good things are, well, good. It’s when they are chosen as a replacement of the better thing, the best thing, that they reveal their distracting, or ‘enemy’ quality. i.e. washing the car when the errand was to fill the tank with gas, participating in a community-building event when the day’s goal was to help a frail, next-door neighbor with yardwork, going for a good run along the beach when the ‘best’ was to take time to study for that upcoming exam.
Our Jesus-following, Jesus-imitating, lives are empowered and enlightened as we focus, keeping the main thing the main thing. It’s so encouraging to know that Jesus, too, faced these dilemmas right along with us. He knew what it was like to see ‘options’ and decide to continue choosing the main thing (when not choosing the main thing would have been to make the good the enemy of the best, for example). Jesus stayed focused. He emblazoned the completion of the mission on his mind, on his heart, on his spirit. That goal, I believe, weakened the appeal of all the distractions, burned brighter than all pleasures, promised irreplaceable rewards. I’m confident that, even as he was suffering on the cross (for us!), there was indomitable joy rising up in him from having done exactly what the Father had asked of him. I’d say that was finishing well! Thank you, Jesus! May it be said of us! PD