On Purpose! Concentrental Drift

July 12th, 2009 by phall

    Have you ever let your mind…now what was I thinking?  Oh yea, have you ever let your mind…is that a mosquito on the wall?  Now what were we talking about?  Oh yea, our minds drifting off.     Concentration is easier for some than for others.  If we have ADD or ADHD, our minds tend to… “Honey, what are we having for lunch?”  Excuse me, uh, sorry about that.   Is this article getting confusing?  Or sadly did you not notice anything out of the ordinary?  If you didn’t, then you have the same problem I have – what was it I was talking about?   OK, now I am ready.  Concentration is easier for some than for others.  For some it is very difficult.  For some, we have to concentrate on concentrating.  Only then can we concentrate on what we are supposed to be concentrating on!  If that sounds confusing, welcome to my world!   Losing our concentration can be aggravating.  It happens to all, some more than others (i.e., “Senior Moments”).  Have you ever walked into a room, stopped, stared, and wondered, “Why am I here?”   When that happens, just think of the here-after…”Now what did I come in here after?”   How about driving somewhere but discovering you drove home!  Now that wasn’t our intended destination, but there we are, sitting in our driveway, befuddled.  Hasn’t that happened to you too?  Please tell me it has!   Or, how about, you’re watching T.V., a commercial comes on and someone asks, “What are you watching?”  Guess what, you don’t know!  Come on, that’s happened to you, right?   The song leader just announced the second song of the service.  We look at the numbers on the board, and can’t remember what song we just finished singing…all within 30 seconds.  That’s happened to you too, hasn’t it?   For a few moments, our mind drifts away from the prayer.  A sincere (and long winded) brother pours out his heart in behalf of the congregation.  Together, many hearts act as one approaching the throne of Deity – and we almost doze off.  Am I alone in experiencing this?   Thirty minutes on one topic is how long a preacher usually ministers via the word.  Thirty minutes of listening (and sometimes preaching), and we can’t remember the next week or even the next day what the sermon topic was.  Too common an experience, huh?   What often makes it easier or more difficult to concentrate can be very personal – what distracts us?  What are we interested in?  What are we not interested in?  How hard are we trying?  For example, many people find music helps them to concentrate while others find it distracting.  Some find doodling sends them into their own little world while others discover that for whatever reason their ears work better is their hands are busy.  Many parents have found that reducing the sugar intake of their children helps them better concentrate and be able to sit still longer…the children that is, not the parents.   In other words, we are all different and need to find what helps us to concentrate spiritually and what distracts us from the here-after.  If we can get easily distracted about this world, could this be true of the next world too?   Concerning a longer lasting drifting, the Hebrew writer said, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1)   The English doesn’t have him saying, “pay attention.”  He didn’t even say, “pay close attention.”  No, the Hebrew writer said we “must…pay…much…closer…attention.”  If we don’t we might – will – drift away…not for a moment, but for an eternity.  Drifting away describes most sin because of its subtlety. We are to be anchored (Heb.6:9).   We have all heard of the “Continental Drift.”  Well, let’s call the spiritual counterpart, “Concentrental Drift.”  And yes, I know “concentrental” is not a real word, but don’t let that distract you.  Making up words helps me concentrate!   What must we concentrate on?  God’s message and promise of eternal life through Jesus.  This hope is our anchor (Heb.6:13-20).  Remember, the here-after.   But how do we do this?  For some it is easier than for others.  The simple answer is, whatever helps us think of eternal life we need to concentrate on.  For some it might mean setting aside a particular time for study.  Others find it helpful to pray while driving (just don’t close your eyes) or listening to spiritual recordings (sermons, singing, etc.).  You might even find placards plastered on the refrigerator, or carried in your wallets, or set on your desk help focus you.  There are also those who need to interact with others personally more so than others to keep their focus.  Of course associating is part of what keeps us focused: [24] and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, [25] not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).   Even when doing mundane activities, we need to keep our focus heavenward.  We need to mentally remind ourselves to concentrate.  Paul advised, whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Col.3:23-24).  In other words, concentrate on our Consecrator.    When reading our Bible, is our mind wandering or wondering?  There is a Greek word idou translated “behold” in the NASB.  Sometimes simple words are not given much of a definition.  The word idou basically means “to see” or “to look.”  In comparing translations, I have also seen it translated: suddenly, just then, then.  But looking at the definition I was wondering if this would sometimes be a better translation: “pay attention.”     In my opinion, the Hebrew writer knew of people’s tendency to mentally drift away.  I think that is why five times in his treatise on the superiority of Jesus, he interrupts himself and gives the readers words of exhortation (13:17): 2:1-4; 3:7-4:16; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39; and 12:1-13:22   Maybe the Hebrew writer wasn’t the only one who knew that sometimes we need a “verbal slap” to get our attention.  Here is my thought – maybe the word “idou” refers less to the action taking place, and more to the attention the action deserves?  For example, in Mt.1:20, an angel appears to Joseph – “behold, and angel of the Lord appeared.” Are we to interpret this to mean, “suddenly, quickly, an angel appeared.”  Or is the term directed to the reader or listener, “pay attention…an angel appeared.”  While I might not be able to know for sure the original intent of idou, I can easily know for sure the effect it has on me.  If something happens suddenly or quickly, it usually grabs our attention.  So when reading and we come across the word “behold,” think “Pay attention…something important is about to happen.”  I like this thought because I need it.  I want my mind to wonder, not wander.     Whether reading, assembling, or working, I need reminding not to let my mind…it sure is getting cold outside. 

Questions:What are some things that distract you, and what can you do about it?What are some ways you can better serve the needs of someone else within the congregation?What do you need to do to better prepare yourself for praising God? 

Prayer: Petition God for the ability to remember the important things in life and in worship. 

Perry D. Hall 


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