Perhaps it was because I had a pile of emails on my phone when I sat down for lunch with some guys in Utica, NY the other day. Or maybe it was something else which prompted me to ask, “What do you guys do to unplug?”
To me, it was an important question. I had flown in from Seattle the day before and when I’m on the road, I’m on my phone–too much.
For instance, when the plane hits the runway, I switch out of airplane mode as quickly as I can to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the news.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. But the habit becomes quite easy when I am traveling because I’m often alone. Usually, I’m in an airport–by myself. Or a hotel. Or somewhere in between. The phone is a way to stay connected. Again, no worries.
But when I get back home, sometimes the habit remains. I’ve got family who want dad back in action, and if I’m not careful I’m checking my phone. Hmmm.
So, I asked my friends at lunch for advice. And I got some great ideas. One guy unplugs for a month every year. While I can’t do that because of the nature of my work, I need to be aware of getting wedded to the smart phone and other modern technologies.
For instance, over the weekend I went downstairs to find one of my young sons on the couch, watching SpongeBob Square Pants. Yes, it was technology, but once I plopped down beside him, in a moment he was resting his head on my shoulder.
I had no phone, just him and our show. SpongeBob was having a tough time finding a shortcut to get to work at the Crabby Patty and things looked bleak. We laughed and for a few minutes I had no interest in my phone.
It was a great time, even if we weren’t actually unplugged. Later that night we read a book together, so that’s something, too.
Our moment together got me thinking. Though we have so much noise in our lives today, those who first followed Jesus also had to do some unplugging, even in their first century world.
Take Paul, who wrote so much of the New Testament. Writing to the Galatians, Paul says (Gal. 1:15-17) that after his conversion he chose not to go up to Jerusalem where the apostles were.
Instead he says, “I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.”
Paul unplugged so he could spend time connecting with the Jesus who called him on the road to Damascus. My guess is, Jesus had a lot more to say as he prepared Paul for the mission in front of him.
Just like us, he had to disconnect from people so he could connect with the one he was serving.
I’m not suddenly against smart phones. Or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of that.
But I’m realizing that if I really want the faith of Paul, Peter and all of those first followers, I must be willing to shut down the noise so I can stop and listen.
If I shut down the noise more often, I might miss a funny Facebook post from time to time. But my hope is, I’ll be more likely to hear the important stuff.
Tomorrow, I’ll still have my phone. But it will only get my attention at certain times of day. The rest of the time, I need to do some listening.
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