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The iPhone has this new feature that tracks the amount of screen time one uses. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it is good to know how I am spending my time, but on the other hand, it is very disheartening… to know how much time I’ve wasted.
As I write this, my daily average is 3 hours 14 minutes per day, which is 27% down from my usage last week ~ good job Kevin! That is until you do the math. 27% down, means I was averaging around 4 hours of screen time per day last week, which translates to 28 hours per week and 1,512 hours per year. That’s a lot of time.
After some research, I can safely say that the time I’m spending on the phone is right around the average for a young adult. However, that’s nothing to be proud of! That’s just the phone too. On average we are also spending 2737.5 hours watching TV every year. Add those two mediums together and that’s 4,250 hours!
What else could we do with that amount of time?
If instead of watching an episode of Crash Landing before bed, you opted to read the Bible, you could read through the entire Bible. In six months.
If you spent 400 hours reading per year, reading at an average pace, you could read 200 books. That’s about 4 books per week. I’ve always wanted to finish Lord of the Rings.
The most common complaint I hear from people is that they don’t have enough time. Between work and raising a family, one is hard-pressed to even find time to go to church. But might we benefit from reconsidering how we currently spend our time? Can some of that time be repurposed towards our faith life?
Andrew Sullivan put it best, "the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but a distraction.”
We are becoming increasingly deaf to the voice of God. How are we to pray, or read the scriptures, or quietly journal, when we reach for our phones every chance we get to get that quick dopamine hit of seeing our friends like our IG post?
What would happen to our spiritual lives if we were able to reclaim some of that time lost to phone? I believe our faith lives would be enriched with greater zeal and intimacy than we could ever imagine.
Here's a challenge I invite you to embark on with me: silence your phone for 30 minutes every morning.
When I was in high school, I played a few different sports that involved off-season weight training. As a young teenage boy walking into a weight room for the first time, I really wanted to look strong and fit in with the older guys around me. The problem was, I wasn’t very strong.
One day while working out on the bench press, I loaded about 45 kg (95 pounds) on to the bar. This was about 20 kg more than I had been using on the bench, but I was just so embarrassed with how little weight that was on the bar. I laid down on the bench with no spotter (a huge no-no) and proceeded to attempt my bench press exercise. As soon as the bar hit my chest, I was stuck.
You would think that I would ask for help...
I just kept trying. I was pinned under the weight and was starting to panic. There were two other players with their backs to me, but I was too embarrassed to call out to them. Finally, my coach came walking by, grabbed the bar with one hand, lifted it on to the rack and yelled, “that’s why you always have a spotter!” This whole episode taught me a big lesson. Do you know what it was?
You guessed it.
Always use a spotter!
A spotter is someone who is there to help you if you can’t lift the weight. A spotter can also give advice. In this situation, a spotter could have said, “Tim, this is a bad idea.” Or, when I forged ahead with the bad idea, he could have been there to help me.
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV)
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” We all need people in our lives who can admonish us, encourage us, and help us. We’ve all been idle. We’ve all been fainthearted. And we’ve all been weak. And since we’ve all been there, we should never be embarrassed to reach out to someone if we need help. The weight of this world (and this year) can be a lot to bear. It is impossible to carry the weight alone. You may be weak or fainthearted because of everything you have going on. Find a spotter.
You may be paralysed by anxiety and are now idle in life. Not moving forward.
Find a spotter.
Who is your spotter? Who are you spotting?
Don’t ever be embarrassed to say you need help.
Recently, my wife, daughter, and I boarded the lift at our flat to go about our day when it suddenly stopped with a jolt. We pushed the ground floor button, but the lift didn’t budge. Pressing the alarm button did nothing either, so we frantically hit the door and shouted for help, but there was no response. As our anxiety heightened and some panic set in, we pounded even louder. Finally, we called the police to tell them we were trapped in the lift and they took our information. We waited (what seemed to be hours but was only minutes) and eventually we heard the sounds of moving metal and voices outside the closed doors. When the doors slowly scraped open, we saw that the lift was stuck between floors. We watched men’s boots shuffling around and then saw a man face bent over saying: “We’ve got this under control.”
Jesus was a master of telling parables in order to share spiritual realities, but let me journey into His area of expertise to use this experience as a parable.
Once we open our lives to Christ, we experience a new spiritual birth and our earthly existence is fully connected to our eventual spiritual home in heaven. In a sense, we’re always traveling between the various activities of our lives and our ultimate dwelling place in heaven, an eternal home of security and peace.
In the same way that we don’t often consider the value of the lifts that we use constantly, we don’t often pause and consider the important connection between our heavenly home and our earthly existence.
When the connection between our earthly lives and our heavenly home is disturbed, we can feel all kinds of emotions, from anxiety to panic to anger, and seek out any avenue we can to get help. Sometimes, when we encounter difficulties, it seems like it takes forever for any help to come. And when it does, we greet it with immense relief and joy.
For those who know and follow Christ, we live with this constant movement between our earthly reality that is full of activities and change and our eternal home that provides stability and comfort. All of us experience times when that connection is affected by brokenness and difficult circumstances. When this happens…
Please know that God’s help is on the way. You are safe. He’s got the problem under control.
The “normal” we are so familiar with no longer exists.
Many hope and pray to "go back to normal" soon. We miss the comfort and routine that we are so used to; work, school, hobbies, church, social life ...
Others talk about a "new normal," a new world that is very different from the old.
The problem is, we have no idea how long the journey will take and what it will look like. We become reluctant sojourners finding our bearings “in-between normals.”
The people of Israel also experienced their "in-between normals." Their country was invaded and they exiled to Babylon. The old normal was gone.
Thankfully, God promised that this exile will last for only a period of time. But their "new normal" back to Jerusalem wouldn't happen until 70 years later.
In the meantime, they were stuck "in-between normals." So, what did they do?
Let's begin with what God has to say first. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Here is an important lesson: Even though we are stuck "in-between normals," God is still in control. He knows exactly where we are, and what is going on in our lives. There is always "hope and a future" in God.
So, what should we do?
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord,...
Look! You can find God! Yes, you can!
Call on God! Come to God! Pray to God! Seek God! He will be found by you!
Though we have no control of the environment, we have a God who does! We have no control over what will happen during this "in-between normals," but we do have control over how we would respond to it.
Here is the question: One year from now, what do you want to say about the you now?
Your response now will define your legacy one year from now.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:4-5
Have you ever been in a situation of feeling completely helpless or powerless? (I hope none of you have been in a dangerous or life-threatening situation like this.)
When I was a youth group leader in Canada, I took the youth group sledding one winter evening. We knew of a great place that was secluded deep in the countryside with steep, snow-covered hills, so about 12 of us packed into the church van and I drove to what seemed to be the middle of nowhere and we had a great time.
After a few hours we were cold and had had enough so we got back in the van, ready to warm up and return home. I put the key into the ignition and turned it. Nothing. I tried again. No reaction at all from the van. Maybe you know this terrible feeling of a dead engine. I made a show of opening the hood and looking at the engine and fiddling with some cables, but I know nothing about engines and it was still dead (and this was in the days before cell phones so there was no calling for help).
One of the kids suggested praying. To be completely honest, I thought it was a lower priority, we should be thinking of ways to get help or get the van started, or just to stay warm. But of course I wouldn’t say that out loud. So we prayed then I turned the ignition. And the dashboard lit up and I felt an incredible relief when the engine rumbled and came to life.
I have no idea what happened, but was simply thankful that we could drive home safely.
Ephesians 2:4 says we are “dead in our trespasses” – dead in our sins. We have no ability to do anything to help ourselves or save ourselves. We are made alive by God’s love and mercy for us, not by anything we do. This is a pure act of grace!
Can you remember the moment you felt spiritually alive in Christ? Can you remember when you last experienced God’s great love and rich mercy?
Take a moment to reflect on that – and share your story with someone else!
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