<<mental diversion, avoidance>>

This can be described as the habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine. Thus in the drudgery or hassles of life, when hurt or emotionally drained, we can be tempted to fall prey to self-pity or else visualize more pleasant circumstances, free of what currently restricts or holds us confined. Do I ignore and avoid undesirable realities and responsibilities by withdrawing into isolation, indulge in wrong thoughts, words, actions, eating habits or other destructive vices when feeling down? Such behaviour can be seen as laziness and passivity (Prov 24:30,31). Aimless shopping, resorting to drink, pornography, playing video games and being workaholics are some of the common means people use to try to find relief by drowning out or disassociating from the unpleasant aspects of life, with bondage to addiction often being the result. It is also a tendency of humanity to try to ignore or eliminate the conviction of their conscience and the Holy Spirit through busyness.

At those devastating times when you think the bottom has fallen out of your world, keep your thoughts under control and don’t let your standards slip for at such times you are especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Do not resort to negativism or unrealistic and ungodly fantasies, rather encourage yourself in the Lord, reminding yourself that He is

Life must be faced – take steps to either change or accept it

your Saviour and promised never to leave you, with heaven soon to be your everlasting home (1 Sam 30:6; Jn 14:2; 2 Cor 10:5; 1 Tim 4:10; Heb 13:5). However, ensure even this promise of a future glorious life is not viewed as an escapism crutch. As believers and Christian churches we are not to live in isolation from unbelievers and the world, but be engaged with it, being the visible current expression of Jesus endeavouring to bring about change for the better and introduce people to the Saviour.

The Bible instructs us to guard our heart, and by turning our attention to what is uplifting our whole outlook on life will change for the better (Prov 4:23, 23:7). The best solution to "Why are you downcast, O my soul" is "Put your hope in God" (Ps 42:11). Rather than avoiding your problems and life situations, face them letting God change you by the way you think, as you master your emotions in Jesus' name (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 12:9).

There is a legitimate and healthy reason to take a breather to refocus and recharge our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional batteries. During such times we should grow in our relationship with Christ, review our actions, repenting where necessary, and prepare

Escapism is not the same as rest

our lives for the period ahead so we can engage in it with the Holy Spirit's empowerment to face the world around us with the refreshed life in Christ to be a clear and effective witness to the hope we have in Him. This reprieve from the harsh realities of our broken world enables us to live with increased purpose, balance and effectiveness when we return to reality.

We have the Holy Spirit within, and He has equipped us to live in victory, if we stop numbing our pain by avoidance and bring it to Him (1 Cor 1:7, 6:19). With eager hope and anticipation we are to look forward to the rapture, the 'great escape' when we are taken out of the sin-sick world, yet we are not to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use, rather using our time wisely and involved in the mandate of Jesus to "preach the gospel to everyone" (Mt 28:19,20). While we whole-heartedly subscribe to the statement, 'The world really needs the gospel', also expressed as 'The only hope for the world is Jesus' do we really believe it enough to actually share the gospel with the people who we confidently claim need it the most? So much of our effort and resources are taken up with the comparative comfort of our private devotions, church life, and small groups yet have little contact with the lost and applying what we believe. Another escapism belief is 'There won't be justice until Jesus comes'. Yet this doesn't exempt us from being His hands and feet, being an expression of Christ to those around us – "being salt and light" to those who desperately need a touch from Him for we are His representatives (Mt 5:13-16).

See also: addiction, escape, fantasy, moods, positive mental attitude, rapture, realism, reality, rest, self-pity, thinking/thoughts, visualisation.