I’ve been irritated lately. Ever have those days, like you should have stayed in bed? It’s one of those weeks that everything I touch seems to fall apart and it’s a struggle to complete even the most basic of tasks. I know this feeling well, and while it never gets easier, I know that one of “those days” means I’m in desperate need of rest. So how do I handle it? It usually begins with losing my temper, grabbing my phone and crashing on the couch. This is how we rest. And while that may be relaxing physically, there’s a type of spiritual rest you were never intended to get from an iPhone- and that’s what is on my heart today.
I love technology. I absolutely love all the amazing things about technology. I love that I can run this blog, our family businesses, work tasks, and stay connected with my family right from the palm of my hand. Love it! But at the same time, as much as I love it, I honestly kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. I love it, for all the obvious reasons, but I hate the fact that I am often a slave to it. I hate how much it often owns me, in my own life.
In the words of the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 12. Here’s some context: He was talking to the Corinthians, who were into all sorts of sinful actions, and he was explaining that, in Christ, we have freedom. There are certain things that we can do, but just because we can do them doesn’t mean we should do them. And he said this, “I have the right to do anything.” But then, he said something that’s very important and powerful. He said, “But I will not be mastered by anything.” “I have the right to do some things, but I will not be mastered by anything.” I really believe that the power of Christ in me should be bigger than anything else in my life. I will not be mastered by an addiction to food. I won’t be mastered by an addiction to look at something inappropriate. I don’t want to be mastered by this … And, quite honestly, so many times, I really am mastered by this. It hurts my heart to admit that, but the reality is, in our world today, this is a very serious issue for a lot of people.
I will not be mastered by anything.” And yet, so many people are mastered by, drawn to, addicted to, compulsively checking when you have nothing to do, is, reach over, pull up your phone, let it interrupt whatever you were doing. You might be addicted to social media if, all the time, you find yourself looking at your phone, rather than talking to the people that are there. If it “dings”, and you can’t help but look at it, you’ve got to know all the time. There’s actually a phobia that doctors are now dealing with. It’s a very serious problem. It’s called “nomophobia,” and it’s not a joke. It’s nomophobia, and it’s the fear of not being connected through a mobile device –nomophobia. In fact, studies show that about 66 percent of people have extreme anxiety if they lose connection, if their batteries fail, or if their phone is not with them. Actually, for those who are 18 to 24, the number jumps to 76 percent of people. Over three in four in that age group have a massive fear of not being connected online.
Fifty-eight percent of people don’t go one waking hour without checking their phone. Fifty-nine percent of you check email as soon as it comes in. And according to the studies, 89 percent of you check it daily on vacation. Teens … The study shows 80 percent of you sleep with your phone. You need help. You need counseling. You need Jesus. And someone needs to take that phone away for you for eight hours, while you sleep. Eighty-four percent of people believe they couldn’t go one day without their phones. Nomophobia. I throw out these numbers because I’m one of those statistics, for me and for so many of us: We have an inability to shut down. We’re constantly distracted. We don’t work for long stretches, with great productivity, because something dings, or beeps,and then we break our concentration, and we find ourselves with our minds always running, constantly. We’re overwhelmed; we don’t know why. We’re short with our children; we don’t know why. Spiritually, we feel exhausted; we don’t know why. We’re longing for something more, and yet, we keep going back to the very thing, and we’re not finding it there. Our souls need rest. We need to be disconnected long enough to find peace in the presence of God, to know Him, to walk daily with Him, to be in an intimate, ongoing, thriving relationship, representing His love in this world, rather than being wrapped up all the time with a device.
I love technology. I hope I will use it to do a lot of good. But I also refuse to be mastered by anything. Christ in me is bigger than any addiction in me. Christ in you is bigger than any addiction in you. And we will not be mastered. Hebrews 4: 9-11 says this: “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.”
Why is it that we don’t find this rest? Why are we longing for it? I like what Saint Augustine said about God. He said, “God, You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our soul is restless until it finds rest in You. Matthew 11:28-29 … Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” when you come to Him. For those of us who are weary, we’re overwhelmed, we’re burdened, we must come to Jesus. Come to Him now. Come to Him by faith, and He’ll give us rest. He says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and when you come to Me,” He says, “You will find rest for your souls.” There is a special rest for us, through Jesus.
So how can we disconnect? What can we do to find rest for our souls? Here’s somehing that I think will put us back on the right track. We must be still. Learn to disconnect and be still in the presence of God. Psalm 46, verse 10 –David said to be still, and know that I am God.” Be still, and focus on God. Be still. Still your soul. Have the discipline not to be mastered all the time, and have the discipline, by the power of Christ, to contemplate the goodness of God, and simply to be still, and know that He is God. And in order to do this I think, if you’re like me, we need a plan, right? We’re never going to stick to something if we don’t have a basic plan of attack. So here’s what I’m going to say, and it might be different for each one of us, but we need to find a way to break the cycle. Maybe for you it’s turning your phone off before bed, maybe it’s leaving it in the other room when you get home from work. For some of us it might just be silencing notification after a certain hour, or my favorite, setting up the “Do Not Disturb” settings to activate at a certain hour.
I love technology. I really do, and I love that I can control the world every minute of my day. But truth is, I can see myself ruining the relationships in my life because I’m allowing it to master my life. I can see it in my daughter who just wants me to play as soon as I get home from work. I see it in my friends and family that wonder what’s so important that I’m on my phone at my nephews birthday party. I can see it in the eyes of my wife that married me expecting to spend quiet evenings together on the couch watching a movie, not in separate rooms checking social media. And God, my Heavenly Father who I owe every waking second, taking a back seat to TikTok videos and Donald Trump memes. We have to do better. *I* have to do better.
I promise you, the power of Christ in us is bigger than any draw of this world.