My phone usually sits across the bedroom from me while I sleep. These days, I often keep it in another room other than our bedroom at night, at my wife’s request. But I can’t only blame her for the forced device dismissal from our sacred space. My wife is spiritually smarter than I am; she knows the stealing power that lives in that small, innocent device. I might lean toward believing all that hooey about the health risks of mobile phones – you know, those murky reports about phones emitting a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation that can be absorbed by body tissues located near the phone? You know, that’s nonsense.
My Phone Is Dangerous
But I’m not actually sure that radiation is the most dangerous thing about my beloved device. It’s what it whispers to me, every single morning of my life, since it has come to live in our house.
No sooner have I woken up than I hear that familiar, excited whisper emanating from my gadget wherever it may be. Even if it is set nightly to “Do Not Disturb,” the voice cuts through.
“Good morning, Dan. Guess what? While you were asleep emails came in from all the worlds you care about. Work emails, friend emails, and other emails you’ve subscribed to are waiting for you to open them. Don’t you want to be in the know, as soon as you possibly can today? Things have been going on, open your apps!
Also, texts! I have random texts for you that people decided to send after your crazy 9:30 pm bedtime (and by the way, what’s this bad habit you’ve gotten into where you aren’t you looking at me every night for an hour before you go to bed? We need to break that little cycle; I have pretty lights to emit into your eyes!).
And there’s more! Our magical friend the Internet has been absolutely abuzz with activity while you slept! News, commentary, opinions galore, and uber-cute pictures of little piglets prancing around in tutus – they’re all awaiting your presence to see them, read them, watch them, and hear what they have to say.”
And the battle for who will get my eyes and ears first at every sunrise begins.
The Battle I Must Win
C.S. Lewis said something about the listening battle we all face each day, before the dawn of mobile phones, and offered a suggestion as to how to handle it.
“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
A mentor of mine, John Wimber, once said, “You can’t watch TV all the time and expect to hear the voice of God.” With Lewis and Wimber’s wisdom circling around me, I’ve come to a resolve.
In fact, what I do in light of that blood-red revelation may be one of the greatest acts of spiritual resistance against the powers of the age that you or I could perform today.
Resist The Powers Of The Age
Here it is:
I don’t allow my phone to deliver to me all those outside voices, or to provide a trigger point for all my inner voices to become active, first.
I don’t look at any messages from the outside world on my phone until after I have worked out, sat in stillness with Jesus, journaled, read something enriching and edifying, and done my focusing, morning examen.
In fact, on occasion, I even power down my phone. Literally (I know this is hard to believe), I turn. it. off.
The whispering stops as I learn to handle the informative power of my phone, rather than the informative power of my phone handling me. A new virtue emerges in the place of my first order impulse, as I learn to face down my fomo (fear-of-missing-out) and not open those apps.
And my heart is quieter, more focused, more attentive to the voice of my Shepherd, more ready to be present to the cultures in which I will represent Jesus, when I succeed on this battleground every morning.
Spirit of God, the wild animals brought to my door by my phone each morning are attractive to me, I confess. I can rationalize listening to them, but in reality my tech impulse and addiction have taken over. I want to play with those wild animals, interact with them, or at least face them out of sheer curiosity to see if their messages all contain happy thoughts and hopes realized, or burdens to bear. But I choose to keep the door closed on my phone, at least today and tomorrow, until you gain the best of my morning attention once again. You’ve only given me one life to live, and waiting an hour or two to be in the know is worth re-learning the virtue of starting my morning hearing Your voice before all the others.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.