I grew up a massive fan of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. When most of my mates were into ‘Morecambe and Wise’, the Two Ronnies or Little and Large, I would be watching and laughing out loud as Stan and Ollie got themselves into one ‘fine mess’ after another.
Created at a time where smashing stuff up, public brawling and men wearing knitted socks and full-length gowns in bed was all the rage, their films went on to be compulsive viewing for our children as soon as they could open their eyes and focus. The years of dedication in this vital area of parenting has meant that when the family gather, we’re never far from another viewing of one of Hal Roach’s famous productions. One such occasion happened just the other evening, after a day spent contemplating a huge garage bill to keep the family car on the road. Our youngest son James could see I was a little preoccupied and suggested we put a film on. Randomly we chose a classic (for me, most of them fall into that category). Me and My Pal tells the story of Oliver’s wedding to oil baron Peter Cucumber’s daughter. You can appreciate why she might’ve been quite eager to marry with a surname like that! Anyway, while waiting for the taxi to take them to the ceremony, Oliver and his best man Stanley become absorbed in a jigsaw puzzle, Stanley’s wedding present to Oli. Eventually the taxi driver, the butler, a policeman and a messenger boy all get involved with the puzzle, while Cucumber fumes as he awaits the long overdue groom.
So often there is a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ that gets far too much of my attention. Normally it’s a device (phone, laptop, tablet etc.); checking social media, playing a game or watching another YouTube clip. Other times it will be an unfinished job around the house. There is even the ‘jigsaw’ of just doing ‘stuff’ for others and losing sight of what is actually important.
For Oliver, a jigsaw distracted him from what should have been one of the most important events of his life. For us, objects that distract us from Jesus, the most important focus of our lives, are all around us. If we believe that Jesus is our Captain (Code #1) but lose sight of Him or if we start trying to steer the ship ourselves sooner or later we’re going to be off course. And that means off course in the direction of sin, missed opportunities, and missed blessings.
Jesus told His followers that spiritual distraction begins with “…hearts that have grown dull, ears that are hard of hearing, and eyes that are closed” (Matt. 13:15). Using the illustration of a farmer scattering seed, Jesus compared the seed that fell among thorns to a person who hears God’s Word but whose heart is focused on other things. “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (v.22).
When we get serious about following Jesus the enemy piles up the distractions. He invites us to spend even more time on a ‘jigsaw’, after all, what harm can it do? Is it time to focus your heart, eyes and ears back on Jesus your Captain? Is it time to trust Him to steer the ship and follow Him wherever and whatever He calls you to?
Jigsaws in and of themselves are fine, so of course is a spot of Laurel and Hardy to get you chuckling, but let’s be men who are distracted by Jesus, not from Him.
Image Credit: Hans-Peter Gauster