In the Era of the Urgent – Clinging to the Important

My kids and I were early adapters to email. We had this little Tandy 1000 that my oldest son left behind when he headed back to the Navy. We discovered that when all the stars were aligned just right, we could access a younger son’s college email account hundreds of miles away. It was 1993 and I was just becoming aware of a thing called the “Internet.” Shortly after that, we moved to a community where the city was on the cutting edge of public internet service. What I know to be true is that having that much access to the internet, not just email . . . but the vast knowledge base of the world, radically changed how I used time.

Along the way I discovered that I wasn’t reading as much as I used to. Instead of phone calls to kids it was easier to send a mass email to all seven at one time, then contact each individually. Email replaced voices . . . Internet searches the comfort of a book . . . thoughtful reflection was lost to the noise and intrigue of learning more and more and more about the world.

As much as I love the internet with all the connections and information available there, I began to recognize with the ancient writer of scripture who said in Ecclesiastes, 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” –  There is even a time for turning off electronic devices. Having that much access to electronic media with its constant contact adds noise to our lives. Our minds get cluttered by the dissonance of competing news streams flooding our brains. Beeps, rings, buzzes and dings distract us with their demand for attention. We let ourselves  be pulled away from the important to what appears more urgent.

What I’ve learned in our digital age is that we need space and time to process the massive amount of information we are consuming, with all of its contradictory truths. We need time to compare what we are reading in our social media and news sources with the heart of God, revealed in Jesus. We need to let the words and wisdom of Jesus guide our thoughts, expand our minds and then live those words out in compassionate action in our world. And there are times when we just need to unplug our devises, so we can spend quality time, minus distractions – with the people we love.  In the era of the urgent, we need to cling to the important.


Sabbath Time

Us northerners do look forward to our summers. In three short months we pack a years worth of visiting, celebrations, camping, fishing, cookouts, softball, t-ball, swimming lessons and assorted activities, deemed unsuitable for the other months of a Minnesota year. We look forward to moments of rest and relaxation . . . time to be re-created within. We need these moments. We were not created to work nonstop. Early in our relationship with God, we learned that Sabbath – one day in seven set aside for God was essential, not only to worship and honor God, but for ourselves.

The season of Retirement has become a season of Sabbath for me. I’ve found myself being drawn back, more fully into my relationship with God. I’ve known others who have found that Sabbath time in an illness or in recovery from surgery . . . moments when space and time allow for one to turn our hearts and to tune our spirits to God’s presence.

The rhythm’s of life demand that we pull back, take stock of our lives before we race to the next place. In a world where the noise of social media, text messages, cell phones and e-mails break into our silence, we need place and time set aside to commune with our creator. We are most whole when we are in touch and touched by God. In our quiet moments, we make room for God to speak to our hearts and feed our souls. The still small voice of God is most clear, when we let go of the noise and make time for God.

One of my favorite new hymns of the church is based on Psalm 42:1. Martin Nystrom’s “As the deer” captures my soul’s need for being in relationship with God. With the words . . “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you . . . You alone are my strength, my shield . . . you alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you.”