Time to Chill
In today’s world there are few things more terrifying than being “out of contact.” Since the introduction of the World Wide Web on August 6, 1991, smart devices like phones, TVs, cars and even smart homes are common place. Smart devices are here to stay and with this miraculous intrusion, we recognize we risk losing valuable intangible items such as quiet time, personal reflection, meaningful interaction with others, and perhaps the most important, quality time with God the Creator.
Hundreds of scientific studies are beginning to expose the dark side of these devices. The effort of modern technology to save us time and make us more informed, has opened Pandora’s box of health issues. A report from Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teens admitted they were addicted to their cell phones. Seventy-eight percent of teens check their devices at least hourly and 59 percent of parents feel their teens are addicted to their cell phones. Middle school kids spend as much as eight to nine hours with electronic devices each day.
The World Health Organization now has a list of mental disorders associated with obsessive video gaming. Connections have been found with suicide, attention deficit disorders, depression, violent behavior, bullying, anxiety, greed enhancement, isolationism and dismantling of the family social structure. This phenomena is world-wide, and unfortunately God’s people are caught in the tsunami of distracting electronic tidal waves. How does one escape the rip-currents of wasted time, social disconnection and loss of inner peace? Here are a few ideas that may help.
Why not have an “electronic-free” day? It could start with as little as a few hours a day of turning off smartphones, tablets, watches, computers, TVs, etc., and working your way up to a whole day (Sabbath is an excellent time) and even a whole week. Sound doable? Be encouraged by Phillipians 4:23: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” There is no such thing as a vacuum; if you take something away, you must replace it with something better. If Sabbath is that special day for an “electronic fast” then consider enjoying the quiet of nature, a hike, a bicycle ride, a picnic, taking pictures of nature, calling a missing member or friend, visiting someone who rarely gets visits, writing a letter with real paper and pen to someone special or hurting, visiting the sick and shut-in, playing Bible games, researching a Bible theme, joining a small Bible study group, having a poster contest, drawing or painting a picture, visiting free zoos, playing music and singing songs, swimming or dipping in a cool pool, passing out tracts, participating in Health Fairs, caroling, visiting nursing home, feeding the homeless, reading Bible stories to neighborhood children and so many other joyful things. Let your imagination run wild with healthy and spirit-filled activities.
Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Don’t let the habit of electronic device usage separate you from God who longs to spend time with you.
By Dr. Robert Gardner, Texico Conference Health Ministries Director