Everything was quiet in our yard. While I worked at the patio table, our dog, Maggie, lay nearby in the grass. A slight rustling of dry leaves changed everything. Maggie made her move, and suddenly she was circling a tree, where a woodchuck clung tightly to the trunk.

Maggie came when I called, but I couldn’t get her to look at me. Her neck was in a rigidly fixed position. Although she was near me physically, her thoughts and desires were with that woodchuck.

Maggie and the woodchuck remind me of how quickly I become preoccupied with things that take my eyes off Jesus. Old temptations, new responsibilities, or ongoing desires for possessions or pleasure can quickly divert my attention from the One who knows and wants what is best for me.

A similar spiritual condition afflicted the Pharisees (Matt. 15:8-9). They were serving in the temple and instructing others, but their hearts were far from God.

We too can teach and serve at church but be far from God. Even our religious activity becomes meaningless when our focus is not on Jesus. But if we stop being “stiff-necked” (Acts 7:51), the Lord can turn our eyes away from worthless things and revive our hearts.