Let’s face it. Cell phones have become ubiquitous. Consistently mentioned among world changers in top ten lists, smartphones were ranked the number one invention of all time by the History Channel last year. I would rank the universe, gravity, music, and the human body higher, but there is no question that cell phones have catapulted over smoke signals, runners, pigeons, the pony express, and old black wall phones with a rotary dial and squiggly coiled cord as a preferred means of communication.
Remember the old days when people used to walk with both hands hanging down at their sides, or drive with both hands on the steering wheel? No more.
The standard walking, sitting, driving, even sleeping, position is at least one hand upward holding a phone to one’s ears. Everywhere we go – the grocery store, the park, restaurants, the mall, home, office – people are talking on their phones, texting, surfing, e-mailing, shopping online, or posting photos and comments to Facebook.
Our daughter used to sleep with her cell phone – in her hand. Maybe she still does. And there are millions of others just like her who constantly have their phone within arm’s reach so that everyone and all known knowledge is just a momentary tap, click, Google, or Siri away.
Without our cell phones, many of us feel incomplete, as if we are missing something and have no way to contact others or be contacted. We feel lost.
But, perhaps, in moments untethered, we can truly find and be found. The Lord proclaims through the psalmist, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
The first recipients of these messages did not have cell phones, but the bustling busyness and relentless racket of living life could just as easily drown out the voice of God as the buzz and ringtones of our cellphones, the blare of our televisions and radios, and the hum and rumble of our multitudes of machines today.
Most of us have grown accustomed to the pastor, the theater, the orchestra conductor, and public places of business reminding us to turn off our cell phones to avoid distraction and disruption.
But, how about when we personally set aside time for the Lord? Can we walk away long enough for some quiet time to be able to hear God? Can we let go of our phones then?
I admit, I regularly read the Bible on my smartphone, and my phone has some great study tools and apps. But, I also find spiritual freedom and rest in taking a Sabbath from technology every week.
I will often leave my phone in the car when we go to movies, or out to eat with the family. I have gone on mission trips, and even vacations, for as long as two weeks at a time, and left my phone and computer behind. No access to the world, but full, unencumbered access to God, and others. It really is freeing.
“But, what if there is an emergency?” you doth protest. So far, so good. I’ve traveled all over the world, and rarely been far from someone who does have access to a phone or computer, or both.
Not only that, I have been alone with God, quietly listening, when people and things come to mind that need action or attention, but I only “heard” them when I was taking time out and away to listen and seek the Lord.
We can make that choice, to be untethered, for a while, regularly, in order to listen to God, to be quiet, to wait patiently, to gain strength.
And this is my prayer, that each of us will take some time, intentionally, to be untethered, to be still, and know that He is God.
Published in Meat and Potatoes for the Soul, Copyright © 2013 by K. Lynn Lewis.