Sometime within the past year or so (I can’t even remember when or where) I saw an object from antiquity: a pay phone! My son Levi who was with me at the time had never seen anything like it and looked perplexed as I tried to explain to him that this gargantuan device in a glass booth was actually a phone. In his short seven years on earth he’s never seen a phone other than an iphone or android; possibly an old flip phone when he was a toddler.
Smart phones are an unbelievable blessing. They’re such an incredible tool and resource. In our pockets and purses we carry around compact, handheld devices that can connect us to anyone or anything on the planet in a moment. Anyone can reach us at any time. Any information we need can be accessed in a matter of seconds through the internet on our phones. Long gone are the days when we were billed by the minute and cell phones were used for emergencies—ten minutes rarely go by when we’re not emailing or texting or scrolling facebook.
Modern technology is a wonderful instrument; but it can also be a ball-and-chain that shackles you to the illusion that “staying connected” is obligatory or even necessary.
Jesus says to His disciples in Mark 6:31, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’”(NIV).
Jesus and the disciples, constantly in the spotlight and consistently being approached for healing and help and handouts, found themselves on many occasions not even having a chance to enjoy something as basic as having a quiet meal. Although Jesus and the twelve disciples inexhaustibly poured themselves into the lives of others, the Lord knows that—for our sanity—there is a time when we have to unplug from the clamor of the crowd.
How much greater the noise of “the crowd” in 2017? The crowd on our social media pages? Or round- the- clock emails from work? Or texts that expect an immediate response? How much more do we need to hear those words of Jesus, “come away by yourself to a quiet place and rest for a while.”
I’m learning that it’s not a sin to not return a text message right away. I’m learning that I’m more addicted to social media scrolling than I want to admit. I’m learning that it’s OK to let the phone go to voicemail. And I’m learning that it’s entirely up to me whether my iphone is a blessing or a curse.
I’m also realizing that when I live with the self-imposed pressure to stay connected to other people, I, by default, disconnect with God. God designed us to be in relationships, yes. But He also wired us for rest and for solitude. When we don’t regularly step back from the noise, our spiritual equilibrium gets thrown off.
As counter-cultural as it is and as much as it goes against our natural proclivity, let’s try to unplug every now and then. If it means scheduling days away from social media or setting boundaries and times when we’re unavailable to pick up the phone, let’s do whatever it takes to prioritize seasons of silence and solace!
“There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God..” (Hebrews 4:9)