As I am writing this blog the words of the Grinch are ringing in my ears. While watching the activities of the Whobillation he is distraught over the “noise, Noise, NOISE!”. It seems to me in my Christian walk it gets harder and harder to block out the noise and demands of the world around me and focus on God. There are always things competing for my time and attention. When asked how I am doing I often respond “fine, just busy”. I know we all would benefit by spending more time in our lives focusing on what’s important to God but it sure is hard to focus with all the noise going on. I need quietness in my life, not a physical quietness, but a quietness of the mind. The Bible says it like this:
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalms 46:10 ESV
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Psalms 62:1 ESV
Even Jesus had to block the noise out of his life.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, Matthew 14:22-23 ESV
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” Mark 1:35, 37 ESV
I recently saw an advertisement from Bose corporation stating they are introducing new headphones that will help separate a single conversation from the background noise around us. Here’s what Bose says about their new headphones:
“Active Noise Reduction makes any conversation in a noisy place easier and more comfortable, taking the edge off the noisy world. Focus on the voices you want to hear—and filter out the noises you don’t—so you can comfortably hear every word. From now on, how you hear is up to you. Turn down the noise for everything except what’s in front of you.”
What I need is a set of spiritual headphones that will block out all the things that keep me from focusing on God. Since those don’t exist there must be other practical ways to eliminate distractions. One thing I find as a potential distraction for me is technology, and I’m not the only one.
Blogger Liz Soltan puts it like this “In a recent book, Professor Rosen of California State University, Dominguez Hills conducted a study of high school students to determine how technological distractions affected their study habits. He discovered that students could concentrate for an average of a measly three minutes at a stretch. The major culprit behind their lack of focus? Technology. Students who tended to “multitask” (or, really, to change tasks frequently) or to check Facebook even once during the 15-minutes they were monitored were likely to be poor students. Students reported that even without the constant reminders provided by notification lights and sounds, they were internally preoccupied with whether anyone was trying to get in touch with them or commenting on their statuses.”
I will admit I’m a multi-tasker to the extreme and an information junkie. Part of it is just the way I am wired, part of it is because my job requires it, and part of it is just bad habit. Information gratification is just as powerful as any other form of addiction. I have come to realize I can’t hear from God if things are never quite and for me technology is a constant potential source of noise. Some may think I am taking a step backwards but I have begun reading Christian books and the Bible on good old fashioned paper. Up until now I have used YouVersion and Kindle books for most of my reading. The problem is these are just two apps among many on my smartphone. There is always the temptation to respond to posts on social media, check emails from work, browse the internet for a while, etc. Even if I’m not tempted to do those things at the moment they are always just a notification away from becoming distractions. As if I don’t have enough distractions on my own Facebook wants to constantly add to them. Three out of ten items in my Facebook Feed are asking me to take some sort of action. Check out what a sponsor has to say, view some information “before it’s too late”, or interact with this post because it is similar to one I have interacted with in the past. That’s just to much noise.
I am just beginning to explore how to be better at silencing technological distractions. Did you know that you can set a timer to limit how much time you spend in Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube apps? I don’t know how successful I will be at it but so far a timer is a great reminder of how much time I spend engaging with these technologies. How much of your time a day do these things really deserve? I challenge you to look at the time you spend on the distractions of life compared to how much time you spend quietly trying to hear from God. I am sure if you measure it you will be as surprised as I was.