I love a good schedule — as long as I reserve the right to change it when I want. Therein lies the problem. When I was a teacher, the routine dictated my days. I lived and died by the bell. Its chime signaled time to move on to a new task, a new class.
When working from home, there’s no bell to signal it’s time to tackle the next assignment. My laser-like teacher focus isn’t Pavlovian outside the classroom. I get distracted and bored. The view from my desk opens wide into the kitchen, where dirty dishes and dinner demands call out annoyingly. If I think too long, my dinner frets turn into laundry anxiety, then moves on to vacuum stress. Suddenly, I’m out of my desk chair taking care of “chores” instead of following the bell schedule.
Yes, I made myself a bell schedule. The only element I lack is an actual bell. (Believe me, if I could find one loud enough to work throughout the house, I’d buy it.) With this routine, I can almost stay focused every day. Notice I said almost. There are days still where the demands of domesticity distract me from my work–the calling of God on my life.
Each of us have a different calling we should be fulfilling every day. We’ve heard it loud and clear, yet we choose to be like the Danites. Who are the Danites, you say? Let me introduce you.
A good portion of the book of Joshua discussed how the Promise Land was divided up among the Israelite tribes. It’s not the most fascinating reading, but tucked away in all those names and locations are tiny details that speak volumes. Check out this gem:
But the tribe of Dan had trouble taking possession of their land, so they attacked the town of Laish. They captured it, slaughtered its people, and settled there. They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor. Joshua 19:47
What’s the point? The Danites had been given a sure victory to take the land they were promised; however, they had “trouble taking possession” so they moved on to a town where the victory was easy and certain.
Ouch! It doesn’t take me long to connect the Danites battle strategy to my routine issues. My current job — as requested by God — is to write. Seems easy, right? Sit down in a chair and just write. How I wish that was so! I do sit down at my desk. I do type a sentence or two, but before long the difficulty of the writing task is easily overshadowed by the uncomplicated simplicity of housework, an errand, or a lunch date with a friend. Suddenly, my desk chair is empty and my cursor is no longer flying across the screen leaving behind letters in its wake. I have “trouble possessing the land” so I attack the sure thing — the easy thing. The worse part is I consider my distractions noble work.
I forfeit obedience, letting my distractions win. Words remain unwritten. A sentence is aborted. Could those words have been ones that introduced someone to God? Might those words have brought life in the midst of hopelessness?
Are you member of the tribe of Dan, like me? Which distractions take your focus off God’s call and make you pursue seemingly “noble” tasks? Are you conquering territories simply because they are a sure thing?
I’m turning in my Danite I.D. Today, I’m choosing to stay in the chair and write. I’m forcing myself to follow the bell schedule. When I do, there’s time to answer the call of God — and the laundry.