Depending on where you live in this world, potholes can be both a distraction and dangerous. For those who perhaps live in a climate that never experiences frost in the ground, potholes may be foreign to you. But here in Atlantic Canada they are as common as a Tim Horton’s double-double. Again, if you don’t live in Canada Tim’s coffee shops are the equivalent of Duncan Donuts in America — they are everywhere — and so are potholes!
It really doesn’t matter what road or highway you travel, when the winter frost is driven deep into the ground it expands and moves earth, then with the warming of the earth in the springtime along with heavy truck traffic, you guessed it, the roads crack, break up, and often times leave holes that can be either a mild annoyance or a force to be reckoned with.
This is where potholes become a distraction or a danger. A distraction is simply anything that takes your focus off what you are doing. I’m being distracted right now because the sun is just starting to shine after an overnight rain and I really want to go outside and enjoy it — a harmless distraction. When you’re operating a motor vehicle you really don’t need any distractions to pull your attention away from the task in front of you — driving safely requires an alert mind. But then throw in the occasional pothole as you’re trying to drive, drink your Tim’s brew and keep your eyes on other motorists who are doing the exact same as you, and your attention is all over the place — literally all over the place because you’re dodging potholes so your coffee doesn’t spill on your clean shirt. Potholes are not your friend!
They can also be quite hazardous as well, especially when they are deep enough to lose a small car in! A slight exaggeration, but still potholes in Atlantic Canada can be very deep and if you hit one just right with your wheel it can cause major damage to your vehicle’s tires, rims and suspension. Now compound that with multiple craters on your commute and the fun of driving is all but gone.
Of course if you drive carefully and thoughtfully you can avoid most of these pesky potholes! The same can be said for our spiritual lives. Distractions and dangers are everywhere, and our hearts and minds can become damaged when we don’t pay attention to the way before us. When we allow life’s daily cares, worries and tasks we need to accomplish to crowd out our devotion to God, we will be easily distracted by lessor things — subtle as they may be. Yes our lives are busy and with life as we used to know it being totally flipped upside down and inside out because of this pandemic, well it’s not hard to imagine that we can be distracted. COVID-19, mass shootings, race protests, job insecurity, food insecurity, and political strife — and the church not being able to gather — I really don’t have to remind you that life is hard right now.
So remaining focused on our relationship to God has never been more important. Pastor Sterling Gosman used to say this when discussing important ministries in the church — “it’s critical”! Well I believe his usage of this little phrase is somewhat prophetic; it is critical that we give our full devotion and allegiance to Christ and His will and plan for our lives and His Church. When we are easily distracted we can often miss the danger ahead, dangers that can lead us all down roads of needless pain and suffering. We need only examine the public discourse in social media to see the destructive power of distraction — where everyone has an opinion about everything and everyone is an expert on every subject. Our hearts are easily swayed and our minds too easily filled with dissension. Of course debate is healthy and useful for discernment and understanding, yet the words of hate and meanness are far from helpful and unifying.
“The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless.”
Proverbs 10:20 MSG
Potholes will come our way — get used to them — but let’s not allow them to distract us from greater things or swallow us and destroy our lives. Let’s remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Philippians 4:8 ESV