One week ago today I received an unexpected gift for my 25th birthday: an iPhone 4. I absolutely love it. In comparison to my BlackBerry – just kidding, there is no comparison between my old BlackBerry and my new iPhone. For instance, I can use an application without my phone freezing. And I’m free to explore the worlds of Words With Friends, Instagram, and use that weather application that I’ve seen pictures of on Facebook where my Oregon friends complain about the rain or my California friends brag about the sun. Being with the “in” crowd never felt so good.
Several days after acquiring this Godsend, I got sick. I woke early Saturday morning to a really bad sore throat and spent the rest of the day combating a runny nose, coughing sprees, and chills. Of course it was much easier since I was listening to the Ducks put up 70 points against Colorado. After work I cooked up a can of soup, played several games on my new phone, and then went to bed.
My cold got worse come Sunday morning, which prompted me to miss church and call in sick to work for the first time ever. I didn’t mind so much because I was in five intense games of Dice With Buddies and there were several NFL games on TV. It was nice to have so many distractions on a day where I felt so miserable that I didn’t even want to walk to the kitchen. What hadn’t happened all through the weekend, though, was a single moment with God.
I’m not blaming my iPhone or the NFL for getting in the way between God and me. I’m simply pointing out that things like iPhones and football are things that we can enjoy as a part of our walks with God. We don’t need these awesome games and cool pieces of technology to experience Him. We just need Him. These things, in various ways, can supplement our walks with Him (i.e. fellowship during the Super Bowl or having Bible apps on your iPhone), but by no means are they needed for a genuine walk with Him.
What was my real issue over the weekend? I was using these man-made things to find relaxation and comfort as I tried to recover from my cold. It’s not wrong to do this; it’s wrong to do this too much. I certainly could have written in my journal or read some Scripture or read a book by C.S. Lewis or N.T. Wright. I could have done something that would challenge me out of mental vegetation, but I chose to open new games of Words With Friends and Dice With Buddies. I chose to allow myself to be completely distracted from God.
Thinking back through the weekend and remembering how I felt through all the sickness, especially the sick day, it actually felt fairly manageable. In fact, both Saturday and Sunday felt more physically comfortable and healthy than Monday did. When Monday arrived, I decided not to call in sick, but instead go to work even though I was still feeling some heavy symptoms. On my drive there, I prayed that as I worked, the cold would get better and by the end of the day I’d feel as though I was back to normal. Not even an hour into my shift my asthma acted up and never stopped until three hours after I had gotten home. It was one of those moments when I realized that God is not an application on my phone meant to be used at my convenience. He’s a person. And He wants to be treated like one.
These past three days, despite being sick, were still good days. But they would have been way better had I allowed God to be in it all. Who knows, I might have finished off one of the 15 books I have on my desk that I’m “currently reading” or maybe I would have written several other blog posts. Heck, I might have even gotten some laundry done. Once again, it wasn’t because of the distractions that I didn’t do any of that; it was because I wasn’t seeking God. Instead, I sought comfort.
All things in life are good, but become bad things if used incorrectly. Football, money, clothes, books, iPhones, Facebook, laptops, blogs, TVs, etc. are all meant to be enjoyed and used for good. But if they get in the way of our walks with God, then we’ve misused them and made them bad things. To turn them around, though, is simple: Seek God.
Pray. Read Scripture. Mingle with fellow believers. Do whatever is needed to connect with God… And it usually means doing what you don’t want to do, like sacrificing comfort even though you’re sick.