It’s there for me any time. I just have to reach for it, and I’m stuck. I get up early in the morning, well, for me, 6:30 is early enough. My pattern has been to stretch, make tea, and then head for my personal worship time. I sing, play guitar, read scripture, and pray. I journal. I try to let God give me good thoughts. . . . You think I am addicted to this spiritual habit? Yes, but something stronger has taken hold.
I have become addicted to something else. I might skip my stretching. I do make tea. But then I reach for the easiest source of satisfaction, curiosity, or stimulation. Yes, it’s my phone. My phone connects me to the world of news. Maybe something has happened! Don’t I need to know right now? I scroll through the headlines on my Apple News app. None of them is earth shaking. But I am curious about one, or two, maybe three. I check my email. Often there is a message from a different news source. Maybe it has a different take on some issue. I am curious. I want to know something that is just beyond my grasp, but it is coming closer moment by moment through my phone. And it makes me feel smart. I am so well informed.
Or am I getting deformed? I turn to look at the time. My phone tells time, too, you know. And it reveals that over a half-hour has disappeared from my life. And I am no better off. I have lost that early morning luster of waiting for a different source to speak to me. The One who formed me.
I can give a lecture or a sermon on Christian formation. I can tell others how important it is to let the Lord shape your life. How helpful it is to be in God’s presence as soon as possible each morning. How richly the Lord speaks to me when I am in a dimly lit room with my songs, and letting a psalm set the pace for this hour. Words that roll on poetically pondering the mysteries and wonders of God’s goodness to me. How wonderful it is when I turn to some words or actions of Jesus told in the Gospels, and let his ways seep into my soul, let the Lord’s assurance of love and peace shape my day. That’s what I am missing so often, now, being shaped by the Word, the Spirit, coming into my heart as the first meal of information and formation, to shape my soul, to reshape my soul for the day, every day.
When I let the news or some minor email become the first thing to shape my feelings, my thoughts, it’s like I have dust in my soup. My mind is distorted as it takes in the confusing muddle of the human story portrayed constantly by whatever source I tap into on my phone or my computer. Then it’s harder to be completely open to the Word because my mind is distracted and maybe worried, in fact.
So what must I do? I am going to fast. That is, I am going to try to purge my hunger for the news. Of course, there is going to be an election. But what I do in the next four days of fasting from the news will not make it turn out any different. Can I get along without the hints and guesses of the electronic prognosticators? Sure I can. This brief period can cleanse my spirit as I give my whole heart anew to Jesus, to the mystical Christ who dwells right here with me, as I give myself to my Sovereign Lord, and ask his direction to start each day. And then, most likely, I will regain the balance I need. Because I will let him shape my heart, my soul, forming me to be his son, his man, to live his way, in love with living again.
Copyright 2020 Stan Hagemeyer