Phoneless on Vacation

I dropped my phone in a lake this summer and was…relieved??

phoneless

While on our family vacation this summer, my teenage son asked me if I wanted to join him for a cruise on the lake.  When your rising Senior asks, you jump!  Without hesitation I said, “Sure!” and headed for the boat, tossing my phone gently on the edge of the grassy shore.

It was then that it happened.

“Nooooooo!”  My expensive, all-informative smartphone slipped quietly into the lake.  “My phoooone!” I shouted, and stepped right into the water, jeans and all (which is telling!).  I quickly rescued it and everyone scrambled around me.

Questions flew. Is it okay?  Was it under water long?  Do you think it’s….ruined??  We weren’t sure. It didn’t look good. So, into a bag of dry rice it went, in an attempt to pull out the moisture and salvage it.

As I waited to see if the pixels would start to coordinate again and find their way to communicate the droves of information the phone used to, I realized something. Something important.

I realized I was…relieved. Other than fearing the loss of the precious family pictures stored on it, I was a bit glad.

With a quiet heart and some time to think, I began to wonder about it. THAT PHONE.

Questions started to bubble up: Has my heart been painfully distracted by this little, powerfully engaging gadget? Has my mind become satisfied to snack on only small, bite-size thoughts and ideas? On another level, what am I looking for on that phone?  Am I looking for something deeper than this phone can provide?

Hmmmm….I wonder.

And that’s just my experience.  What about those I treasure?  My husband, my children, my best friends – the onlookers.  What do they experience when I am staring at this little black rectangle? Do they enjoy the responsive heart I long to give them?  Do they have the attentive ears I promised I would always lend?  Do they feel the love I carry around in my heart for them?

I wonder.

And what does the Lord see?  A thoughtful daughter? A wise woman?  Or does he sadly see otherwise, head down, fiddling with a gadget?

Does God feel like I do when I see my teenage son’s head down, checking his phone one more time?

UGH.

If I’m not careful, I realize this smartphone of mine could be making me un-smart in the ways that matter most.  Could it be this little gadget full of information is swallowing up the “Live” version of me?  Am I getting careless with my most sacred priorities, like being fully present with those I love?

Now I know there is a flip side to this discussion:  the communication we enjoy, the worthy thoughts that circulate, the places we can now find, embracing the inevitable wave of social media.  (I know you are likely reading this on your smartphone!) Its a tricky discussion. But somehow we must grapple with it. At least for me, quite frankly, the flip side can wait just a bit. I need some time to sit with my Heavenly Father and hear from His heart. I feel a gentle chastening from the Lord, as if he is tenderly holding my face and wants my full attention.

What is God trying to show me? I ponder. I consider my smartphone.

What might I be missing while on my phone?  What might I be losing while on my phone?  What is it doing to my mental margin? To my family? To the precious, fleeting days God has given me?

The Bible calls us to live a life of love and depth, lived purposefully, joyfully and wisely for HIS GLORY!  Am I?  Is social media and the incessant chatter helping or hurting that call? Am I growing in grace?  Am I living the abundant life Jesus died to give me?

As I begin to thank the Lord for my short-circuited, water-logged phone, I settle my refreshingly undistracted heart in the Psalms.  Themes that have long been familiar to me call out to my soul, beckoning me home.

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love. Psalm 33:18

Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:3-5

I find my rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him. Psalm 62:1

In this quiet moment, I see clearly.  This is what I’m made for…or rather, this is Who I’m made for. I need God. I need all that He is to meet the deep needs of my hungry soul.  I need all that He promises to anchor my heart through the storms of life. I need the fullness and the truth and the strong loving grip of Almighty God.

This relationship, this true, sweet communion with the living GOD is what I was made for: REAL LIFE, REAL SATISFACTION. And it is something I just will not find on a smartphone.

As sparks of life return to my phone, I have mixed emotions. I hope I leave this experience changed.

I’m realizing social media is a force to be reckoned with,
and it’s been good for my heart to do some reckoning.

One thing I know I will take from this experience: I will cry out to God more for wisdom and for help with better boundaries!

Now I’m not asking you to throw your phone in a lake – though it has been good for me!  I am asking you to take time today to consider your ways and ponder your smartphone use. Are you struggling with discipline and healthy boundaries?

If you find yourself grieved as I was, lay down that phone somewhere far, far away and cry out to God. Meet with Him in prayer and in His Word. Meet with Him long and meet with Him earnestly. Grapple with your phone use and keep technology in its place, serving you, not the other way around.
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Let’s do it for the sake of our families, for the sake of our friends – the dear ones and the ones we have yet to meet. Let’s do it for the sake of God’s higher Kingdom purposes for our lives, knowing that we have people to love and important work to do. Let’s do it for the sake of our wonderful and worthy God!

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

– 2 Corinthians 11:3

Suggested disciplines:

1. Enjoy the golden treasure of the early morning. Make it a practice never to touch your phone before you have quiet time with God.

2. Perhaps check your phone for emails and social connection only at certain times for 10 or 15 minutes. Perhaps: 10am, 2pm, 8pm.

3. Do all you can to lift your face to your family and friends nearby, over your technology.

4. Leave your phone behind whenever it is feasible and safe!