Laying Down Our iDols

Andrew and I (Jen) are an Apple family. We should be getting some kind of endorsement or discount from that company for the amount that we use all of their products, both personally and for our music. Needless to say, I have an iPhone. I like my iPhone, but over the last few days, I’ve realized that I liked it too much. Let me set the scene…

Friday morning…

Good Friday to be exact. I read out of my current devotional, “Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only,” by Beth Moore. That day’s devotion happened to be about the birth of Christ, so it was rather poignant to reflect on His birth on a day that the church reflects on His death. The challenge she gave was to meditate more on Christ and remove anything that prevents us from doing so. Immediately, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart and said, “you need to fast from your phone today.”

I argued for a moment and tried to justify my practical and reasonable need for it, but in the end, I obeyed. I resolved to pray for the needs of those around me whenever I felt the urge to look at my phone… I prayed more that day than I have in a while!

All day Friday, I had to stop my own muscular reflexes from opening apps and social networks. There were plenty of dead moments as the hours passed; a 40 minute drive to and from church, waiting to sound check for our Good Friday service, waiting for church to start… these were all opportunities to turn off my brain and look at my phone. In those moments, rather than detach like usual, I saw needs. I prayed for my pastor’s sermon when I wanted to go on Instagram. I prayed for our worship to be Spirit-filled when I wanted to play Draw Something. Honestly, it wasn’t easy, but over and over, I found myself in conversation with God and I felt so close to Him.

I learned this about myself: my phone had become the answer for everything. I didn’t need patience because I could entertain myself with apps whenever I got bored or had to wait for something. I didn’t need to be uncomfortable in social situations because I could detach and isolate myself in a game. I didn’t need to ask for directions because I had a map. I didn’t need to glean from others, because I could learn things from Google and YouTube tutorials. It had become a removal from necessary times of reflective silence that God uses to speak to us. I went to sleep with a new truth in my heart, thankful for God’s mercy.

Saturday morning…

I woke up feeling free. I had learned so much the day before and I couldn’t wait to start fresh. I picked up my phone (breaking my fast) and noticed a rather sizable scratch/gash sitting right in the center of the screen. It had to have happened overnight, because it wasn’t there on Friday. I still have no idea how it got there, but the timing was a little too appropriate. Here was my idol, no longer perfect. Every time I used my phone, I had this new irritation to put up with. I don’t like to over analyze every day occurrences, but I know that God was using this to remind me that He must remain the center of my attention. Everything fails but Him.

Sunday morning. He is risen…

Our church venue meets in a school auditorium and the doors remain locked most of the week. You never want to leave personal items behind or they’ll be stuck there until the following Sunday. You can guess where my story goes. In a rush to go see family and friends after church for Easter, I accidentally left my phone in the bathroom where it was promptly locked away from my possession.

Once I realized my mistake, I didn’t even care anymore. I couldn’t stop laughing to myself. “Alright Lord, point taken! I’m so sorry I put a stupid gadget before communion with You, my Creator, Savior and Friend. I repent.” He truly is a Father who takes toys away from His kids when they can’t pay attention.

I did end up getting my phone back from the school. A tech person was kind enough to open the building for us, but I haven’t really looked at it. I’m almost scared of it, but I think in a good way.

What is it for you? Technology? Maybe it’s something else, but what keeps your mind wandering when it should be focused on becoming more like Jesus? “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” Matthew 5:30. Our hands are neutral; it’s how we use them that brings us closer to or farther from God. Gadgets like phones and computers are neutral too, but again, we should use them for the right posposes. Social medias like Facebook and Twitter, along with all technology can be used as a powerful tool for outreach and connection, but they can quickly become addictive as we develop an unhealthy attachment to, or even relationship with them.

May we stop staring at our phones while the world dies around us. May we use technology as a tool for ministry and community rather than a mere time killer. God help us. God help me.

Thanks for reading,