Authored by Steve Hearts
We live in a world where in order to get things done and keep up the pace we have to constantly be “connected.” Not only has the Internet taken our existence to a level we never would have dreamed of twenty or thirty years ago, but thanks to iPhones, smart phones, tablets, and computers, we can now take “the Net” with us wherever we go. This enables us to remain on top of our job and responsibilities even when we are physically away from our office or place of work. While this is certainly an advantage, it can also cause us to work when we should be taking time off.
Thanks to technology, we rarely need to invest time in a handwritten letter, go to the nearest post office and pay to have it sent off, then wait a few weeks or months for a reply. We can now simply type a message to someone who is on the other side of the world and send it to them electronically within mere seconds. All of this is great! It’s really nice to enjoy and use this convenience, but I have noticed that we can often grow impatient if we receive no reply within a day or less. In a world of instant communication and on-the-spot gratification, patience is becoming more and more of a lost art. And not only that, many of us allow our constant connection to the electronic world to disconnect us from the important things in life.
When I was a boy, family gatherings were always centered around hanging out together, enjoying one another’s company, and catching up on lost time. Now, many people prefer to occupy such moments on their iPhones, texting or playing video games—even in the company of loved ones. It’s interesting how some of those who are most “social” online can be some of the most antisocial when it comes to face-to-face interaction with other people.
Although I’m not the type of person who spends time on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, or other such social networks—and although I don’t possess an iPhone or a smart phone—I do use a laptop and depend heavily on the Internet for e-mail communications related to my ministry and research for my articles. All this can absorb a lot of my time. I used to be able to handle lack of Internet access for a few days at a time if need be. But now I find myself often anxious to connect daily and check my email in order to stay on top of things.
Every year, my dad and I spend a few weeks with my grandmother, who has no Internet access at her house. Before I learned about computer and Internet use, this didn’t bother me, and I looked forward to these visits. But as my understanding and appreciation for it increased, my enthusiasm over these visits decreased, considerably. I loathed the inconvenience of having to go to the nearest McDonald’s or wait until we went to my aunt’s house in order to connect. I wanted to be connected 24/7—all day, every day. The Internet had become a life support of sorts for me. So while at my grandma’s house, I’d feel a bit like someone who was being kept alive by machines and had the plug pulled. Boredom would immediately set in and I’d go stir-crazy.
There were times when I admit that it was thanks to the lack of Internet access that I was spending time with her—which was supposed to be my whole reason for being there in the first place. Yet I also must confess that I did this somewhat reluctantly.
Just recently, I experienced a notable about-face perspective. A few months ago, my stepsister’s birthday came around. To celebrate her birthday, we decided to take some much-needed rest at a hotel that was owned by a friend of ours.
Before we left to the hotel the Lord whispered to my heart to refrain from getting online during our time there—and to only use the laptop for hearing devotional audio material. I also felt that I should put aside all writing and other projects I’d been working on in order to take full advantage of this time away and recharge myself on all fronts.
Though I didn’t know how to pull this challenge off, I knew it was part of the Lord’s plan to teach me what I needed to learn—so I did as He asked of me. I devoted the entire time to doing things like praying, personal reflection, and hanging out with my stepsister, something I had not done very much of lately. It was one of the most relaxing and renewing times I’d experienced. I realized that I had become absorbed in my work and ministry to the point that my relationship with the Lord and people around me had weakened. This brief getaway was a huge step in strengthening it.
I thought of all the biblical heroes such as Moses, David, Abraham, and others who walked closely with God and clearly heard His voice, without any of the man-made gadgets we depend on today.
When Moses and Joshua climbed up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, they had no tablet computers to take notes while God spoke to them. Instead they had tablets of stone on which God wrote with His own finger, while they simply remained still, waiting and listening.
Back in those days, no one had iPods or MP3 players to listen to as they went about their daily tasks. There was no Pandora radio either. Only the natural sounds of God’s pure creation.
When God warned Noah of the flood and told him to build the ark, he didn’t send him a text message or post it on his Facebook wall. Rather, Noah heard that still small voice in his heart, which led and directed him every step of the way. As I reflected on this, I soon began longing for that slow-paced, simple life that technology has deprived us of.
When the time came to leave the hotel and return home, I almost wished this time wouldn’t end. I wanted to spend a few more days in this distraction-free environment, where I could continue detaching myself from the busyness of the Internet age. But just as we were leaving, a new thought came to me: I’d have more time in this environment when the next visit to my grandmother came around.
I’m especially excited about visiting Fox Island, a county park not far from her house, where I used to go sledding with my brothers in the winter when we were kids. Birds abound there—and their peaceful, happy song surrounds you wherever you go. There’s a pond for fishing and trails to walk. Little else is heard besides the sounds of nature. I get the feeling that this kind of natural environment is somewhat closer in similarity to the environment of biblical times, in which God’s voice was heard more clearly for lack of the modern distractions that drown it out in our world today.
This article is not meant to be a slam on technology. The Internet holds a great source of information and opportunities. But to those whose lives revolve around technology and the Internet, may I suggest that you try to disconnect from the electronic world, even for a short time? You may find it brings relaxation to your mind and body.
For me, it helped to reconnect bonds with loved ones and family, as well as reconnect with Jesus, filling my heart with a peace and rest that was sorely needed.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International