Have you seen a bug being drawn in to a bug-zapper? I don’t understand exactly how it works, but for some reason, bugs are innately drawn to the glowing light of the zapper, so that they fly, trance-like into their own doom.
While shopping with a friend last week (a rare treat), I realized that this is how I am with a clearance sticker. There is a powerful urge within me to further investigate the glow of these bright red clearance stickers. Even if my mind commanded, “Just walk past it!”, my body could not oblige. Some force within me takes over and makes me physically unable to walk by a clearance sticker. Long after my friend was done shopping, I was still being lured from one clearance sticker to the next as if in a trance.
Stop and consider for a moment: What are the things you’re most drawn to? What screams your name so loudly that you simply cannot ignore it? What things make you put everything else in the world on hold so that you can address them? As I make my own mental list of all the things that lure me in, I’m a little ashamed. A coupon, a dirty counter screaming to be scrubbed, a jacket thoughtlessly dropped on the floor …. there’s a long list of things I seem unable to ignore. Even if my kids are begging me to play with them, I cannot walk past the dirty counter to focus on them for a minute. This then, is how I spend all my time. This, then, unintentionally or not, is the priority I have established for my life.
You might argue that if it’s this hard to ignore the inner urges, is it even possible to “reset them”? I think so. But not without effort. And certainly not without first recognizing that what the urges have led us into is a trap.
What if the important things had an equally strong force on my life? What if taking time to play with my kids was an itch I just literally could not ignore? What if the Bible screamed my name more loudly than the crumbs on the counter? What if I just couldn’t do anything else until I sat down and spent some time in prayer? What if I had an irresistible urge to help my neighbor, so that I put everything else in the world on hold until I did it?
When I make a list of my inner urges, I have to pause and ask myself: do these inner urges lead me to spend my time in ways I would consciously choose? Are they already in line with what I say I’d like my real priorities to be? Or are they taking me away from those priorities? For me, the next step is to pray. I want an “itch” for the urges with lasting value, and a wisdom to put everything else in its proper place – nothing but bug-zappers luring me straight towards a trap.