“Be still, and know that I am God.”(Psalm 46:10).
My moment occurred on the toilet of all places. I was twenty-nine years old, the brand new pastor of my childhood church, with three daughters and a bride to care for. The stress of the previous few years had weighed on me, but there I was, fighting the fight. I woke in the morning darkness, hoping to get a jump on the day, sat down, and read it.
That was the moment, if pressed for one, it hit me. I try to give the first part of my day to my Lord. Reading that blustering and blistering email on my iPhone, in my home, during God's time shook me. "I've got to get some space," I thought, "I can't live like this." My open invitation to technology had taken away my quiet.
We've all been there. Partly because of the pinging and ringing of our devices, but partly because of the change in our brains. It is hard to be quiet anymore. Hard to think. Hard to be silent. The temptation strikes us at every dull moment: Should I pull out a device? Should I look it up? What awaits me on the screen?
The device itself isn't weak. The technology is complex and useful and, sometimes, a blessing. No, the weakness is in me. Given unrestrained access to the answers of every infentesimal wondering, I fail. With Google in my pocket, where I am is less interesting. But that's the rub. It the place I am is interesting.
I wonder if my generational placement has something to do with it. Born in 1978, I fall at the tail end of Generation X. We grew up on technology, but we didn't. We had computers, but not like these. I remember always having a screen, but not like these screens. I can remember when nothing beckoned. When I could count all my friends and actually, you know, give them a real high-five.
I've always loved new technology. Like you, there's much I love about it today. My parents have maybe 100 pictures of my entire childhood, with maybe ten minutes of video stored...somewhere. I get that in one week now. I'm sure someone thinks that's a bad idea. But I am going to weep and laugh on the couch with my wife while watching Google Videos of our kids for years to come.
So no one needs to recount all the improvements the little internet in our pocket has gotten us. I'm not saying it is the problem. As I said, I am.
Jesus rose early in the morning, departed, and went out to a desolate place. I want to ensure I can still do the same.
In his book Hamlet's Blackberry, Willam Powers writes, "Truly disconnected places are increasingly rare. But in another way, it's easier (to disconnect now). Take a walk without a digital gadget, and distance is yours. The moment you leave all screens behind, you're outside the walls."
I agree. Those moments in my late twenties helped me begin a journey of prioritizing the best over the good. I will not die wishing I had spent more time on Facebook. But if it's installed on my phone...well then, maybe just a little.
So for me, I battle on. With you, I fight for the quiet. Currently, in additiona to phone and texting apps, my phone is loaded with these apps: Google Maps, Camera, Clock, Google Photos, Casts (for podcasts), Audible (for audiobooks), Spotify (for music), Google Calendar, Kindle, Bible, and a handful of travel or organization apps. Only those apps and my wife has the permissions to add more. They seem like plenty. Each one of these is a gift. Right now, they make life better. Even they can be a little much for my distracted mind.
So that's me at the moment. That's how I roll. No email in my pocket. No social media either. No games. No web browser, definitely no web browser. I cannot handle them. Maybe most can, I cannot.
I sometimes text Christina the following: "Going running at (location). No phone. I love you." Just me, my beating heart, and my Lord. He seems to love it. I know because He is quite good at filling in all those quiet moments with His own agenda, thoughts, and dreams. Sometimes, when distracted, I feel stuck on the runway, unable to take off. But in the quiet, with Jesus, I can actually fly.