I once had a church office that had no windows.
Its door opened out to a beautiful garden area, and most days I left it open while I worked.
But on days with many distraction and people dropping in, I'd lock myself in the office and pretend I wasn't there.
At first I felt guilty, and immediately jumped up to answer the door whenever anyone knocked.
That was before I learned that it was up to me to control the distractions I allowed to invade my work day, and that I didn't have to answer the door.
Not only did I not have to answer the door to the minor distractions at work, I learned I do not have to open the door to the devil's distractions.
These come in the form of temptations and conflicts of all sorts.
It's amazing to me that whenever the devil knocks, we Christians tend to jump right up, and let him in.
We fling open the door and engage in dialogue and/or spiritual combat -- binding and loosing, rebuking and casting out, and praying up a storm.
We allow him to distract us from our walk with God.
Every moment we spend in spiritual warfare, or spend in conflict with another person, is a moment of peace we have surrendered to the enemy.
"But," you say, "We have to cast the enemy away from our door. We have to chase him away from our home, family, church. ..."
No, not always.
There's another way.
You can ignore him and not answer the door when these distractions knock.
If he can tempt you into conflict, he's won.
Ignore him and chances are he'll go away.
Isn't that true in everyday life?
How many of us allow ourselves to be trapped into talking to a salesperson at the door or a phone solicitor because wesomehow feel it's rude to cut them short or just hang up?
When I see someone unexpected at my door, I can choose not to answer it and they will go away.
If I'm busy and the phone rings, I can ignore it.
I can hang up on phone solicitors.
When mail arrives that I don't need to read, it goes to the recycle bin unopened.
Turning off the devil is as easy as that, once you stop feeling guilty about not answering his knock.
It's not rude to refuseto be drawn into thatcritical conversation; it's wise.
You don't have to listen to gossip. You don't have to continue that phone conversation with the person who only wants to spew negativity; you can politely hang up.
It's not impolite to choose not to be with people who distract you from your walk with God or disturb your peace of mind.
A friend once commented on my policy of ignoring distractions, "Oh, I'd be afraid I was missing something important. How can you just ignore the knock, not answer the phone and not open the letters?"
The same way I've learned not to jump into spiritual or personal conflict every time it presents itself.
If it's really important, I'll have another opportunity to deal with it.
Don't misunderstand. I'm not advocating ignoring genuine needs, or emergencies.
But it is a relief toknow that you do nothave to handle every situation or enter into every conflict that presents itself to you.
You don't have to open the door.
The Rev. Anne Barber, is pastor of My Father's House, 7215 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.