My spouse and I were sitting outside at the fire pit enjoying the cool of the night. A small moth came out of nowhere and flew directly into the fire. I’ve heard the saying before “like a mouth drawn to a flame,” but I’ve never actually seen it happen. The moth did not hesitate. It did not try to escape even as it started to burn. I didn’t understandwhy a creature would not try to save itself.
I decided to look it up and learned from a 2007 NPR interview with Dr. May Berenbaum, the head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that this is due to “transverse orientation. Many animals, including insects, can move or fly to maintain a constant angle relative to a distant point source of light. She hypothesized that it was actually a set preservation instinct when daylight comes to protect themselves from predators.” As humans create other sources of light is disorients the moth and their instinctive nature instead kills them as the mistake the flame, the bug zapper or the light as the moon.
As I thought about the moth, I realize the enemy has done the same thing to us. He distracts us with other things, that resemble what God has called us to. Then we run head first in to it. We get distracted, disoriented, discouraged, desensitized and even deceived.
The enemy fills our environment with so many things. They are not in an of themselves bad, just as my fire pit is not bad. However, it is easy for me to get distracted and run headfirst into something. Time passes and I realize it was really just a distraction from the enemy to keep me from what I know God has called me to do.
For example, I love helping people. I am quick to agree to help out. I soon realize that I have over extended my commitment. My sensory system gets overwhelmed and I am knee deep in flames before I realize this was not the path God called me to. He wants me to help others, but my first priority has to be to those He has already entrusted to me. There may be times where I help out a little more, but I also need to be able to say no when the needs of others are distracting me from the things God has told me to do.
“Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!” Psalm 141:4
Other times I get disoriented, I lose my sense of direction. This usually follows a time of being distracted because I have felt so overwhelmed that I am not sure which way is up. I find myself searching for something in all the wrong places, discontent with where I am in the moment. I start to feel like I need to change everything because nothing feels right. I have learned I need to stop and look to the Lord. I need to allow Him to recenter me so that I can again see the path that He has placed me on.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Other times I get discouraged. I often realize I have lost my enthusiasm and confidence if I stay distracted to long. I start to question my ability to do what I know God has called me to do in life. I start questioning what I know and even who I am and start looking for validation from others instead of from God. Insecurity creeps out in full force when I am discouraged. I have to go back to the Word and remember what God says about me. I have to remember whose I am and who I am in Him. I have to remember when He called me and evaluate if He is calling me to something else, or if I am just in my own head.
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
Sometimes I find I have been desensitized to the sin around me. Hearing people’s stories all day, I often find myself wanting to just numb with senseless television at night. I remember there was one show I watched and a friend commented how she had to stop because of how much they took the Lord’s name in vain. After she brought it to my attention, I focused on that during the show and was surprised at how often it happened in a single episode. I was completely desensitized to it. I had to repent and I stopped watching the show. I have to guard my heart on be present in what I am doing so I am not normalizing sin becoming immune to its influence in my life.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2
If I stay too long in the other states, it is easy to become deceived. I can think, like the moth that the flame is the moon and that what I have normalized is me doing the right thing. That is what the enemy does he convinces us that something that is false is true in order to steal, kill, or destroy our destiny. I gain a righteous indignation that my actions are right and anyone who speaks against it is wrong and likely even an enemy. We have seen this playing out in our society on every front as media encourages us that anyone against the way we see a side is the enemy. We are deceived and told instead of hearing each other out, the other side must be silenced. We can no longer have a conversation discussing our viewpoint with each other, if a conversation is had, it is just to argue, neither side actually listening to the other.
The Bible gives us the answer to deception, and it is Holy Spirit.
“I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” 1 John 2:26-27
We are called to guard our hearts, to be on watch that we do not get distracted, disoriented, discouraged, desensitized or deceived. God offers us ways to combat these in our lives. We have to chose to be aware of what is going on around us so that we will not be like a moth drawn to the flame.