Lay It Down
A strange thing happened to me today. I left my cell phone at home. And the world did not end. I’m not quite sure how that happened since I didn’t immediately answer all calls and texts and emails and mindlessly scroll through social media for 8 straight hours, but it appears the universe is still in tact. Weird.
I’m being silly of course, but what is truly strange is that I can’t actually remember the last time I went an entire day without my phone. Just admitting that makes me a little sad. I left it on accident, of course - or what seemed like an accident on my part - but what I quickly realized was that the Lord allowed that “accidental overlook” to reveal some things about my heart I needed to see.
You see, I’d been praying about something in particular and asking for a specific answer from the Lord. And I wasn’t hearing anything. Like...nothing. I wasn’t feeling led in a particular direction; I hadn’t heard His voice speaking to me through scripture; everything I was hearing from godly council was still only making things more confusing. No clarity, whatsoever. This morning I was praying again to hear something from the Lord and then was quickly distracted by some notification on my phone. It was at that moment that I heard from the Lord - but not in regards to what I’d been praying about. I heard Him press into my heart and say you’re not hearing me, because you’re not listening for my voice. Not really. You’re too distracted by the noise of the world to hear Me.
And He was right. I knew it was true. I’d pray and ask and search but then never listen in silence - in stillness. I hadn’t heard Him speak, not because He was silent, but because I hadn’t even allowed silence in order to listen - to hear. I needed to repent and ask the Lord to return to His rightful seat on the throne of my life, laying down all distractions and silencing all noise in order to focus in on His voice. I put my phone down and refocused my heart in prayer. Fast forward an hour or so and when I went to reach for my phone for the first time at work, I realized I didn’t have it. I’d left it where I had laid it down earlier this morning.
Now, I don’t live close enough to the church for me to make a quick trip home to get it, so I just decided to “make do” without it for the day. And what a gift from the Lord that was! At first it didn’t feel like a gift - I worried what might happen if Jonathan or my parents couldn’t reach me. I thought of 1,000 things I suddenly needed to do and all of them required the use of my phone. But the fact was I didn’t have it, so I might as well do what I could do without it.
So here’s what I did:
I completed several tasks at work without getting sidetracked by an incoming text or a facebook notification.
I had several full attention, uninterrupted conversations with my co-workers.
I drove here and there without distraction - noticing the bluest sky and breathing in the fresh air.
I got a haircut in total peace.
I ate lunch in silence. SILENCE.
I visited with a friend and had good old-fashioned conversation.
I listened to the radio.
I talked to the Lord. Any time I was tempted to pick up my phone, I took that time instead to say a short prayer (And as you can surely imagine, I talked to the Lord a lot more than normal today).
This made me realize how much I’m replacing all of these wonderful things I’ve listed above with time spent distracted - time spent putting lesser things as my first priority. And I’m missing out on beautiful gifts the Lord is giving me daily because I’m too wrapped up in the tyranny of the urgent.
And, as a result...
I’ve drowned out the voice of my Father with the many, MANY voices of others.
I’ve spent more time on my phone than on my knees.
I’ve looked down at a screen more than I’ve looked up at creation.
I’ve displaced the right things for the “right now.”
I’ve been distracted, discontented, dissatisfied, and disappointed.
Maybe you have been there too. Or maybe you’re in this place right now. Maybe you’re struggling with divided attention and a divided heart. Maybe you’ve traded the necessary for the urgent. Maybe you’re ruled by the device in your hand more than the God of your heart.
The struggle with distraction is real, friend - maybe more real in this day and age than ever before. And you better believe that Satan is going to use it to keep us as far away from the Lord as possible. He wants us to believe that Jesus can wait but the world cannot. He wants us to be overstimulated, overwhelmed, and overworked so we will overlook that which is most important in our lives. He wants us to miss out on the gifts the Lord so graciously gives us each day. And friends...we will. We WILL.
Unless, we choose to lay it all down - our phones, our “to-dos,” our busyness - the noise and all the distractions. We must lay it down. And seek the Lord without hinderance or interference. Without distractions of lesser things. Replacing the tyranny of the urgent with the divine authority of Jesus our King. Refusing to rely on something - on anything - more than we rely on His power. Denying all that distracts and detracts us from experiencing God.
Oh Jesus, we don’t want to miss Your will for us this day because we have our faces in a screen and our minds on the things of this of this world. We lay it all down at Your feet, Lord. May You alone reign in our hearts and in our lives. Amen.