It it just one word. It carries with it a powerful way of life. The line from the movie Up is iconic, and it defines my brain on so many levels.
The word is … Squirrel.
I grew up way before ADHD was a thing. Maybe I would have been diagnosed, probably, okay, pretty sure. I get distracted real easy. When I’m working, one can easily view passing trains from the big windows. I have to really focus not to get distracted. In the middle of a sentence … My brain is yelling, “Train!”
We get distracted … social media, marketing ploys, secondary issues, fears, laziness, image, critics, politics, flashing lights, trending TikTok, latest news alerts like there is an asteroid headed our way, leaks about the upcoming iPhone, or pictures of cute puppies.
Did you see the one where 10 puppies listened to a stuffed dragon read Hansel & Gretel? Oh wait … that was a squirrel moment.
Distractions can come from many sources. In Nehemiah 6, this is more than just a narrative about building a wall. It is is about leadership, vision, courage, and in this chapter, avoiding distractions. His enemies tried to distract him, tried to destroy him (assassination plots), and tried to shame him. Yet he stayed focused. He persevered.
He continuously refused to be sidetracked. At one pint he said he couldn’t come down (leave his work) for he was doing a great work. A great work. When you know you are doing God’s work, it is a great work.
This is tough for me. Things keep pulling at me … often very good things. But I desire to stay focused on the great work … that which God has purposed for me. It takes wisdom, it takes focus, it takes discipline. I need to make sure the tyranny of the urgent doesn’t overcome my passion for the great.
There are many sites to give 5 easy steps, 12 ways to stay focused, 632 easy procedures to follow for staying on course. If I knew how to do it easily, I would not still struggle with it at times. Plus, I’d write a book and get rich.
But what I do know from Nehemiah is a challenge for us to remember we are doing God’s work and we need God’s strength. The great work are things that God wants us to do … love our husband/wife (great work), raise our kids (great work), love the Lord (great work), love others (great work), serve in His name no matter we are (great work), make disciples (great work), and tell others about Jesus (great work). These are just some general works. Each of us may have specific works.
So don’t stop doing the great work. Don’t get distracted. Stay the course. Learn from Dug and don’t go looking for squirrels.