In today’s world of technology and accessibility, there is no shortage of ways people are forever trying to claim our time and attention. Whether it is through the ringing of our smartphones, the ping of an app notification, the reminder announced by the artificial intelligence devices we install in our homes, commercials between our favorite television shows, or the pounding of another delivery person at our door, the demand for our attention seems constant.
When I first bought a cell phone it stayed in the living room overnight to charge. Then my husband started traveling more and it made sense to keep the phone next to my bed in case of emergency. It wasn’t long before my nightstand became the usual place my phone charged at night.
Did you know your cell phone screen lights up every time it gets a notification? Mine does, anyway. In a dark room this can seem like a very bright light.
It wasn’t too long before curiosity would have me picking up my phone in the middle of the night to see what had caused the flash. The next thing I knew, I’d be checking my email for that reply I’ve been waiting for, responding to a Facebook post I had missed earlier, and … what in the world? How have I been awake for thirty minutes?
I learned to turn my phone face down on the nightstand.
But it was still on my nightstand.
So when the alarm went off every morning, rather than yank myself from the warm covers into the cold morning air, it became my routine to snag my phone and start my day by scrolling through my various social media feeds and email inboxes. This got me started thinking of my to-do list and everything I needed to accomplish that day. I’d get out of bed, brush my teeth, dress, and eat breakfast – all with my phone in my hand.
In the back of my mind was this idea that I needed to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. But that was something I had plenty of time to do. There was no deadline for speaking to God. No one would know or care if I didn’t squeeze in those verses I meant to read today. I could catch up tomorrow. God didn’t have a closing time. He was always there and always would be. But I had things that needed to be accomplished NOW or there would be consequences.
God could wait.
Until one day, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent more than five minutes studying God’s Word. For too long, I’d let Him get squeezed into the spare moments left after everything else — everything more urgent — had been taken care of. God was getting those moments when I was so worn down and worn out I couldn’t think well enough to “be productive.” I was giving God the crumbs of my leftovers.
And I was starving.
I was worn out, stretched thin, weak, and breaking. I was overwhelmed and wanting to give up on everything. I couldn’t do it. What was the point?
Well, the point was that I was never meant to do any of this alone. The point was that I had my perception and my priorities completely backward.
If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?
If God is my source of truth and I haven’t spent time with Him, from where am I getting my wisdom?
If God is my source of purpose and I haven’t spent time with Him, on what am I basing my plans?
If God is my source of hope and I haven’t spent time with Him, how do I expect to find peace in life’s trials?
It was like a light bulb suddenly shining bright on all the corners of my mind — one that had once shown brightly but grown dim from dust and neglect.
God can’t wait.
God MUST come first in our lives. He is THE reason we are alive. Without Him it doesn’t matter what else we accomplish or fail to achieve. It will all mean nothing if He isn’t at the heart of it.
So I’m trying something new. I’ve moved my phone across the room — close enough for emergencies, but far enough to discourage temptation — and I’ve begun the habit of setting my bible ON TOP OF MY LAPTOP every night before I go to bed. That way I am forced to physically move it each and every morning. It has become a tangible reminder that I need to pay attention to God before I pay attention to anyone or anything else.
What distractions have kept you from spending time in God’s Word? What methods have you found to help keep you accountable to maintaining your relationship with the Lord?