Beware of distractions

Sometime ago I came across a rather fascinating fable called “The Dragon of the Abyss”. Once upon a time a man was travelling to Syria, leading his camel by the bridle. For some reason the camel suddenly turned nasty and in a fit of bad temper started to bite him. As he sought refuge in a nearby valley he became so panic stricken that he fell over a precipice and down a cliff. Falling down the cliff he managed to grab hold of a shrub and started to cling on to it for dear life. After a few moments, he began to assess the situation; above him was the snarling camel and below him, in the abyss, he noticed a dragon with wide-open jaws, just waiting for him to drop!

As he was wondering what to do next, to his astonishment, he then noticed beside him, two mice, one white and the other black gnawing at the roots of the shrub which was holding him. He froze with terror seeing no means of retreat and no means of safety. As the minutes passed however, the man began to look more closely at the shrub. On one branch he noticed the most beautiful fruit he has ever seen. He popped this fruit into his mouth and found the taste so lovely that he completely forgot all about the danger he was in. Meanwhile the mice continued to gnaw!

So who is this foolish individual who could so quickly forget all about the danger he was in? Well, the answer is, every one of us at various times of our lives. The meaning of this unusual story is as follows; the man represents any ordinary human being living out their ordinary life. The dragon is the ever open abyss of death, while the bad tempered camel stands for the various sorrows and troubles of life which afflict us all from time to time. The two mice gnawing at the roots of the shrub, one black, one white, stand for night and day or the passage of time. The beautiful fruit represents any particular pleasure which distracts an individual and makes them forget the reality of the situation they are in. It represents anything that hinders them from dealing with the most important thing of all; preparing to meet our Maker.

The fable was written in this memorable way so as to remind people that they must never let worldly things distract them from the reality that one day “we must all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ, so that each one may receive judgement for the things done in the body whether good or bad.” (2nd Corinthians Ch5v11).

Every person at some point in his or her life tries to distract themselves from the reality of our situation before God and some even try to do this all of their lives. Indeed, some individuals manage to distract themselves so successfully that the thought of needing a spiritual life remains buried in their subconscious right until the very end. But no amount of distraction, no matter how long it lasts, changes reality. The mice are still gnawing and the dragon is still there!

Sadly, some people treat Almighty God the way they treat the medical profession when they are ill. They will do anything they can to avoid having to go to see their doctor. They will allow themselves any excuse why they shouldn’t go and any distraction no matter how trivial. They will try and reason with themselves that it isn’t necessary. The fact remains unchanged however, that if they but swallowed their pride and went, the medical profession would help them, not harm them. The doctor exists for their benefit not their harm. The doctor is not there to be avoided at any cost and yet that’s what many do! It’s like “biting the hand that feeds you.”

So likewise, this is how many people treat “The Great Physician” Jesus Christ. Many individuals avoid going to God’s surgery “the Church” at all costs and make up any excuse why they shouldn’t see their Heavenly Consultant. They will allow themselves to be distracted from the reality of their situation by the most trivial of things and try to reason with themselves that God is not important! I sometimes wonder “what do they imagine is going to happen if they went to church?” Sick people go to “the doctor’s surgery” for help and the place sinners go to for help is “the Church”. If they but swallowed their pride and went they would find God is there to help them, not harm them! He is not some Being to be avoided at any cost; He is a Being so profoundly lovely and beautiful that He Died for us all on the Cross to save us from our sins.

In our material age there are many things that distract people’s minds from the reality of their situation before God. But distractions are just that; distractions. They actually hinder solving a situation rather than helping it and should be ignored. After all is there anything more important than a person’s soul? Is there anything more important than getting to know God so we’re ready to meet Him when the mice stop gnawing? Is there anything more important in this life than making sure we are worthy of eternal life? Let us make sure that we don’t ignore our spiritual welfare because of a few passing distractions. In Matthew Ch 16v26 Jesus warned “what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world yet lose his soul, or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

We have a Heavenly Exam to pass and now is the time for earnest preparations.