SERIOUSLY, DO YOU?
Let me ask you a penetrating, deeply revealing question.
Do you rely and depend on God as much as you rely and depend on your smartphone?
Do you reach out for God through prayer, as much as your reach out for your phone during the day? Do you genuinely rely on the help of God in your daily life as much as you rely on the apps on your smartphone to help you throughout the day? Do you depend on God for direction in your life as often as you depend on your smartphone GPS for directions to somewhere you need to go? Do you depend on the wise anecdotes of God for living as much as you depend on information on your smartphone? Do you feel the same degree of anxiety when you miss your prayer time with God as when you misplace your smartphone? Do you feel the same emotional attachment to God as you do to your smartphone?
Today, I am asking you these questions, not to shame you, but to illustrate what true dependence and reliance upon God are actually meant to be like in our day-to-day lives. I am asking these questions because the single greatest treasure we have in our lives is God himself, revealed to us through the person of Jesus Christ. God intended to be as relevant, as critically important, and central to your life, as most people’s smartphones have become to them. I am asking these questions because I sincerely believe most Christians have become blind and jaded to just how little they really depend and rely on God.
I see this from two very important perspectives. The first is this. I am old enough to remember day-to-day life before smartphones existed. In fact, I still do not own one. I have observed firsthand how this device has become all-consuming in the lives of most of the population. The selfie is literally the single most popular picture in the entire world. People can’t go to sleep without their phones! The first thing people do in the morning is to check their phones! Companies literally design clothes today with a special place for your smartphone because men and women carry it on their person every single day, everywhere! This device was designed by some of the greatest minds in the world. It was intentionally designed by them to be as addictive to you as a slot machine is to gamblers. Apps were designed to entice you, entrap you, and enslave you. They are making billions of dollars at your expense! They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Of course, this tool can be quite helpful in your day-to-day life. Many of you use it for your work and find it an invaluable tool. Many listen to their favorite pastor’s sermons or listen to music. But, it has become far, far more than a tool. It has become the dominant omnipresent distraction of most people’s lives. And without realizing it most have become much more dependent upon their smartphone than they are dependent on God. I have watched people’s addictive dependence on their smartphones, apps and social media sweep the nation, including among Christians, faster than any revival has ever spread across any nation in the history of the world.
The second perspective is this. I have lived the last 46 years of my life in fervent dependence on God. He has been and is the central focal point of my entire life. He is the dominant attraction of my life! As the years have gone by, I have only grown deeper in my dependence and reliance on Him. Reaching out for God through prayer is a dominant habit of my life. I reach out to God through prayer with the same devotion and eagerness that most people reach out for their smartphones every morning. I don’t even know how to use a smartphone or smartphone app, but I’ve spent years reading, studying, pondering, and applying the truth and wisdom anecdotes of God in all matters of life, revealed to us in His Divine Word. They’ve literally saved my life from ruin.
Many years ago I had a job in the parts department of a Cadillac dealership. My job was to supply the parts for the mechanics that they needed to fix customers’ cars with. I helped keep the parts department in tip-top shape, shelves stocked with the most frequently used parts and found and ordered the ones we didn’t have. I was to interact with the mechanics and suppliers in a polite, helpful manner, and provide what they needed. But there was often downtime when all my duties were done. I would stand by the counter waiting for the phone to ring, or for a mechanic to come ask for a part they needed for a repair. As I stood there, I would often take out of my pocket my leather-bound Living Proverbs booklet. I would be reading through it, searching for the great nuggets of truth it revealed for my life, my parenting, my speech, my disciplines, my finances, and all other matters. The mechanics would make fun of me. I didn’t care, as they were the fools, not I. I knew I was growing wiser and wiser. Today, what would you find someone doing??? Staring at their smartphone, playing a silly game, scrolling through their photos, and no one would make fun of them, because everyone is addicted to the same thing.
Several years ago, I was visiting Salt Lake City to speak at a church conference. I was staying with a young couple in their basement. Very early in the morning, while it was still very dark out, I got up to get ready for my day and went out for my early morning prayer walk. I was walking around the townhomes in the parking lot, praying as I walked, but quite a distance from the actual townhomes. I had been praying for about 30 minutes, when some headlights approached me from behind, going very slowly. I thought to myself, “I bet that’s a cop.” Sure enough, I turned around and the cop was pulling up next to me. He pointed his flashlight at me, rolled down his window, and said, “What are you doing out here?” I said, “I am out here praying.” He laughed, as I am sure he has never, ever had someone tell him that. He asked for my ID. I said, “Well, it’s in the basement of the house I am staying in. I had to leave their back door unlocked as I don’t have a key to get inside.” He looked at me strangely. I said, “Here is my boarding pass for my flight out here. I am speaking at a church conference.” He laughed again, sent me to get my ID, and then realized I was telling him the truth. Many people have been pulled over for using their smartphone while driving down the road distracted. When was the last time you have heard of anyone being stopped by a cop for praying?
I can tell you today, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the greatest blessing in my life, the most important aspect of my life is my dependence and reliance on God himself. God must be central to our lives. Our reliance upon him must be for everything. As the Lord’s prayer indicates through this insightful phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus was teaching his disciples that even in the smallest things, that you feel capable of doing yourself, that you fishermen are used to doing for yourselves, first ask Me. Cry out to Me. Rely on Me. Depend on Me. Reach out for Me!
Seriously, please carefully evaluate your life. Ask yourself the questions at the beginning of this article. There is far too much at stake to ignore these penetrating questions.
Lamentations 3:25 NLT
The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.
So now, come back to your God! Act on the principles of love and justice and always live in confident dependence on God.
* Wisdom Suggestion: I would advocate keeping your Bible separate from your smartphone. I believe that using your smartphone as your digital Bible is keeping the power of the dependent, distracting influence of smartphones ever more present in your life. It enables its influence in your life to become even more dominant.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling