In the 25 years since the advent of the Internet, cable TV, Wi-Fi, Google-connected mobile devices, texting, the rise and fall of CDs, GPS mapping, the App Store, and all the rest, I've become the frog in the kettle.
Unwittingly, I'm infected with one of the most virulent, under-diagnosed addictions of our generation – "cyber creep." Who hasn't lit their screen in the middle of the night to see if there's a new text or email? I admit it. Guilty! The highly contagious "I can't be off-line for more than a few minutes" syndrome has certainly had its way with me.
Of course, there's certainly nothing morally wrong with staying connected 24/7. And cyber creep isn't fatal. But does anyone still seriously believe that cyber creep doesn't take away from authentic intimacy with God and people? Or, for that matter, from staying in touch with ourselves? Cyber creep tends to numb the soul.
There is a solution. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10).
Recently my wife and I purchased a camper. I discovered you can stay connected while camping, but it's not easy. So instead I decided to seize the day and take a few hikes, stare at campfires, and luxuriate in a few of the other unplugged things that renew the soul.
As a result, I'm hearing from God in whispers. Of course, sometimes God speaks in a loud voice, but many of our most precious encounters with Him come at the end of a whisper. That's what Elijah discovered: "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Like the Psalmist, I want more. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1).
I'm amped up to create some cyber-free zones. Last weekend I even pulled our camper into the backyard for a cyber-fast. Two Orange County Deputy Sheriffs dropped by around midnight and shined a flashlight with enough watts to hunt gators at me through the camper window to ask if I had a fight with my wife :-)
Don't misunderstand. I'm no fool. I certainly don't want to go back to "the good old days" technologically. Most of us exaggerate how good those old days were anyway, don't we?
I love fingertip access to people, news, weather, my Dropbox files, Amazon, "Okay Google," photo albums, and the dozens of other apps that have made life so much more interesting and accessible. Without our high tech I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading it!
So thank you, God, for technology. But it's also good to acknowledge there's such a thing as cyber creep. And cyber creep can lead to cyber bondage.
Occasional cyber breaks have been good for my soul. My soul was already good, but now it's even better. So much so, in fact, that I'm going to start cyber-fasting on a regular basis.
Until every church disciples every man…