Distractions come in many forms, but are always aimed at steering us off course. It’s important to understand that the devil is not concerned with what keeps us from completing our assignment. He just wants to ensure that it doesn’t get done. The Bible teaches that Satan comes to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) – and that applies to our purpose.
Distractions sometimes come packaged as enticing opportunities, urgent obligations, hurtful criticism, unanticipated obstacles, sudden disputes, fruitless relationships, and emotional issues that keep us occupied. No matter what form they come in, distractions are dangerous. They either delay the call on our lives from being carried out – or, worse, they prevent us from answering the call.
When Nehemiah's vision for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem was near completion, Sanballat (a Persian officer in Samaria) tried to distract him from finishing the project. First, Sanballat mocked and ridiculed the Jews. When that proved to be unsuccessful at interrupting Nehemiah, Sanballat tried to use fear, entrapment, and political maneuvering as distracters. Nehemiah wrote:
"When Sanballat [...] and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained — though we had not yet hung the doors in the gates, [they sent] me a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: 'I am doing a great work! I cannot stop to come and meet with you.' Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply" (Nehemiah 6:1-4, New International Version).
This passage demonstrates that distractions often appear to be harmless and frequently come (1) when our work is well on its way to completion; (2) to cause harm to us and our vision; and (3) on numerous occasions — relentlessly — trying at all costs to divert our attention. But like Nehemiah, we must recognize that we are "doing a great work." The devil doesn’t come to simply distract us with a bad day, emotional meltdown, inconvenience, or annoyance. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy the call on our lives. So don’t let him.