"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Philppians 3:13-14
One of the most interesting gadgets that have grown in popularity over the past half year utilizes the lowest of technologies. Fidget spinners are a hot item right now for kids and teens everywhere. Their emergence and popularity is thought provoking for a couple of reasons. There is a branch of the scientific community that believes it's important for children with ADHD and autism to have outlets for nervous energy. (Let's set aside the bigger debate of what qualifies children for ADHD and autism in today's world for now.) They argue that fidget spinners allow that to happen in a simple, less intrusive way, that is much healthier than sticking kids in front of iPads with headphones on and beaming in Netflix.
Conversely, there are those in the scientific community that argue against them, saying they simply serve to be a new-old form of distraction. It keeps children from paying attention in class to their teachers or listening to instructions from parents. In essence, it does the opposite of what proponents says it helps does.
The ultimate issue in all this is solving the problem of how do we keep children from being distracted? How do they stay focused, not anxious but single-minded? It's a tough question because ultimately, as an adult, I'm not a paragon of steadiness and steadfastness. I'm all too quick to grab my phone at the first sound it makes, follow rabbit trails of curiosity online with news, culture, and theological articles, or even wander into momentary daydream sessions where my mind goes as blank as the wall I stare at. Focus in this day and age, amid our cultural milieu, is difficult.
Paul didn't seem like he needed a fidget spinner, even if it seemed like he needed to relax from time to time. One reads this passage in Philippians and can only come away in wonder at the resolve and perseverance of a man caught up in Christ. All his accomplishments, all his personal desires, all his social qualifications were considered trash in light of his Lord. He wanted to be first place, but only if he were racing to Jesus.
This is the kicker: Paul did not daydream but he did dream. Dreamed of knowing Christ as intimately as possible. Knowing Jesus in suffering, knowing Him in His death, knowing Him in His weakness. Only by doing so could Paul know Christ in His strength, in His resurrection, in His perfection. To receive the "prize of the upward call", Paul had to know the downward reality of Christ in his own brokenness, failure, and death to his own dreams. Only there might he begin to run the right race, to sprint the correct direction, to follow in Christ's steps.
It is this reality that we so often can't handle. We want to know Christ but not in His suffering. To go up, we must first be brought down. So we want fidget spinners, Netflix, iPhones, television shows because they distract us from the race God is calling us to run. We say we want to be single-minded but our hearts deceive themselves. Instead we settle for basic, worldly distractions, pain-numbers and pain-escapers that don't allow us to engage the deepest recesses of our hearts and need for Jesus. God's call is so much more than what we've settled for. It's a life-long pursuit of knowing God in Jesus Christ with an intimacy that is unmatched by anything this world can offer. What is distracting you today from pressing on toward the goal of Christ?