“People today are afraid to be alone. This fear is a dominant mark of our society. Many now ceaselessly sit in the cinema or read novels about other people’s lives or watch dramas. Why? Simply to avoid having to face their own existence. . . .
No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place of quiet — because, when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise. . . .
The Christian is supposed to be very opposite: There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet. Rather we are to put everything second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow it to speak to us and confront us.” (Francis Schaeffer, “Walking through the mud” in No Little People)
Referencing Francis Schaeffer’s thoughts, Ray Ortlund writes of a decision he’s made:
“…At first, my smartphone seemed like an advance. Technically, it was, and impressively so…But those very advances have imported into my life, day and night, an unprecedented level of distraction and demand. My smartphone has proven, over time, to increase the frantic pace of my activity and to decrease my quietness of heart before God. So I have concluded that, for me, it is injurious to my soul. I’m done. I’m going back to simplicity, back to strict necessity.
In the short time I have left in this life, I want maximum divine blessing, which requires calmness of heart, mental clarity, capacity for undisturbed concentration, so that I can walk in the presence of the risen Jesus rather than crawl through every day buffeted by our screamingly intrusive world…” (Ray Ortlund, Quietness Before God/TGC)
I, too, want to walk in the presence of the risen Christ. And for now, my smartphone actually helps me to do just that. (See John Piper’s very helpful article on using your smartphone and other iProducts for Christian growth and God’s glory.) But reading both Schaeffer’s and Ortlund’s words, I think of Jesus’ own: He doesn’t mince words when he talks about the seriousness of seeking God’s kingdom first (Mt. 18:8). He tells us to take anything that causes us to sin, or causes others to sin, and be rid of it. So, I want to stop and pray and ask myself:
- What is it that decreases my quietness of heart before the Lord?
- What self-imposed, ceaseless motion in my life prevents me from, or helps me avoid, being quiet before God?
- What should I put second so that I can be alive to the voice of God, and walk in the presence of the risen Christ?
Ask with me?