I am not sure what I thought would happen when I agreed to participate in the media fast that my Bible study group proposed last fall. You see, I was already familiar with the Romans 12 instruction to not conform to the pattern of the world. I had discovered the benefits of that truth long ago; so, in recent years I had limited social media, not watched much TV, and listened to my fair share of Christian music. What could I possibly still have to learn in this area?
All I knew was that God was asking more of me.
He made it clear I was to go ALL IN: no TV, no music, no Facebook, no Instagram, no movies, no news — fake, or otherwise. I was to commit to this media fast wholeheartedly – and, mind you, for an indefinite amount of time. And before I knew it, one week turned into two, which turned into five …
So, what happened during this time of silence? Truthfully, it was a kind of awkward at first, and even a little lonely (I soon learned what true ‘friends’ are –the ones that make time to meet for lunch, or even do something radically old-fashioned like dial up the telephone). During this time, I became painfully aware of my personal patterns of media usage — distraction, entertainment, habit– but I also became more in tune with God. How? By intentionally incorporating some of the classic Spiritual Disciplines like Meditation, Prayer, Sabbath, Solitude, and Study. All the things I complain I never have time for, but in reality, I am simply choosing to spend that time elsewhere. Yes, eventually the point of it all became clear: I needed to tune out, in order to tune in. And in His goodness, God gave me the gifts of time, increased sleep, and clarity of mind. Who doesn’t want more of that?
Seven media-free weeks eventually passed before I slowly started reintroducing some of the elements that had been cut-out of my life. But the truth about today’s world was forever imprinted on my spirit: there’s a fierce battle for the precious resource of TIME. God longs to speak to us, but He doesn’t have the desire to compete with all the ‘noise’ that we choose to surround ourselves with. He desperately wants to share more of His heart, His love, His vision, and His forgiveness… if we can only make the time to listen. But it certainly doesn’t have to be through a media fast; it’s possible you have other distractions that are keeping you from sitting at the feet of Jesus. Or perhaps you are inspired to try a similar idea for a weekend or a week (candidly, most of us could benefit greatly from a single afternoon of silence). I do know that God will reveal to you what ‘noise’ needs to be turned down in your life, provided He’s offered the opportunity do so.
And what better time to tune in to what God is trying to say to you than the start of a new year? God has a profoundly different perspective than our own, so when you purposely “set your mind on things above” (Col 3:2), He just might surprise you with what He reveals. Perhaps you choose to learn more about the Spiritual Disciplines and register for The Good and Beautiful God study that will be offered this winter. Or maybe you feel led to keep the momentum going on your financial freedom path, so you sign-up to take Legacy Journey. You may even decide that 2018 will be the year you finally join a Life Group.
God promises in the book of James that when you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. There’s no doubt it is a true challenge for all Christians to listen closely and hear His voice.
I encourage you to accept the challenge.