The Awesomeness of Being Unplugged

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Every once in a while God gives teachable moments in life, I experienced one of those this morning while preparing for a sermon in two-weeks. An iPad was in my lap and a notebook with some handwritten notes was sitting on the chair beside me. Partway through I laid the iPad down and picked up the notebook to check some references, then began trying to scroll down the piece of paper with two fingers as if it was a tablet 🙂

It only took a second to notice my mistake but it made me stop and wonder “is it possible I’m TOO connected?”

We live in a world where cutting edge technology is literally at our fingertips. With my phone in St. Vincent I’m able to text, email, send pictures, call, or face time/Skype with family and friends in the States for free if there’s wifi signal. It’s also used as my alarm clock, calendar, reminder, GPS, library (Kindle Books), news source, and even source of entertainment through Netflix.

In a broader sense tools like smartphones or tablets lead to a lifestyle that’s constantly connected or “plugged in” so there’s almost never a time someone cannot be reached with an email, text, or Facebook message. As a missionary being plugged in is a special blessing because it allows me to communicate with people in another Country instantly…yet its possible to become so dependent on electronics that being unplugged [1] scares us to death.

During my last two weeks in St. Vincent the missionaries who I’d been filling in for returned (I was VERY happy to see them!) so I moved out of their home into a nearby rental. There was only one problem, the rental didn’t have internet.

  1. No Email
  2. No Texting my parents
  3. No Pandora (music)
  4. No Netflix

At first I figured being without wi-fi wouldn’t be a problem, but after a few days boredom started to set in, and by day four things were getting desperate. I did survive my time there (barely) but it was a not so subtle reminder of just how much I depend on technology.

This morning the Lord reminded me again that I needed to unplug from time to time. This isn’t done by getting rid of internet like in my rental home, but creating moments in the day or special times during the week when all my electronics will be turned off.

Last week I went with my father to plant nine fruit trees at our home in West Virginia. While we were there I conducted an experiment by turning off all my technology (phone and tablet) till 6:00 other than checking my email first thing in the morning. I did make it till 5:00 (not quite the goal but proud of it anyways) and learned a few things about being unplugged.

  1. It creates lots of silent moments [2]
  2. Those moments allow me to process things slowly (one at a time)
  3. If I listen closely in those silent moments God can be heard
  4. And most importantly I didn’t miss anything

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My greatest fear of being unplugged isn’t that someone can’t get a hold of me but the silence. Silence feels awkward or weird to me so I do everything in my power to fill it

  1. By talking
  2. Or listening to background music
  3. And turning on the TV even if I’m not paying attention to it
  4. But this morning the Lord made me stop and think about something

What if those moments of silence the unplugged life gives us is a blessing instead of a curse? What if God’s trying to speak to me but I’m too busy scrolling, swiping, liking, or tweeting I can’t hear him? What if the moments I spend quietly thinking accomplish more than my plugged in moments.

Those questions and others challenge me to become unplugged. This starts not with becoming reclusive and isolated, but shutting everything down and just taking a walk.

[1]: away from our electronics or wi-fi

[2]: I’m not listening to anything, or thinking about lots of things at the same time

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