“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…”
I am greatly distracted by the internet: social media, email, Pinterest, online shopping and general browsing. Sometimes I even get distracted reading Christian blogs. And yes, I am going to address this using a blog. I can imagine many of you have the same problem I do, so what better place to discuss being distracted by the internet?
Given the truly positive effect writing these blog posts have had, it might be hard to imagine how the internet can be a black hole of time. I use it as my down time in the evening while my husband and I are sitting and relaxing. None of this would be a problem, except that I begin to drift off, getting lost in the endless news feed on Facebook, searching the internet for whatever happens to pop into my mind. What is the problem? Distraction. It is a dangerous trap. One that leads me away from spending valuable time studying God’s Word, bonding with my husband, or doing any other number of tasks God has asked me to do. I am not saying I do not need down time. I do not, however, need extended periods of time, sometimes hours, mindlessly surfing the internet to no real purpose.
Moses saw that distraction from God was a dangerous path for the Israelites too. The focus of Deuteronomy Chapter 8, and more specifically verses 11-14a, was to remind them of all that God had brought them through, all the amazing things He had done for them, yet the danger of forgetting God was still there. It says:
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…
When we get distracted from God, we forget who blessed us in the first place. We begin thinking we were responsible for these blessings, but we soon run into our own limitations. The Lord had done great things for the Israelites, yet it seems like much of the Old Testament is stories of them straying from God. There is a nearly constant theme of being distracted from God’s promises, disastrous trouble ensues, they cry out for help, God is merciful and the cycle continues. There are, however, also stories of individuals that, with rare exception, lived in the sweet spot of God. They remembered God provided their blessings, they glorified Him in all things, and they followed His commands.
What does the struggle of the Israelites to remember God in all things have to do with my overuse of the internet as a down time activity? Perhaps more than you would imagine. Those distractions are taking me away from something God intended me to do, whether it is being a good wife, mother or friend, working on my relationship with God, or simply taking care of myself with rest. It is no wonder I so often feel completely exhausted. I know you may be thinking your time on the internet is no big deal, and it may not be. I know many people who are able to balance the internet as a tool and a toy without it becoming a problem. However, I would guess that many of you reading this have some tangent that is a problem.
Karen Ehman gives us a concise picture of how to determine whether something is a tool, toy or tangent in her book Let. It. Go, which is the latest book we are studying in Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study. She says:
“Tools are needed. They help us live life. They enable us to take care of our homes and families. They help us grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Nothing wrong with tools.
Toys are permissible too. We all need a little fun now and then to help us relieve stress and rejuvenate, to refresh our minds, bodies, and souls. I love me a good toy now and then.
It’s the tangents that trip us up–those activities, hobbies, people, or time-wasting habits that knock us off course for an hour. Or a year” (p. 39).
What does this all mean for me? I am going to be intentional about my time on the internet. I am going to set limits and boundaries so it does not interfere with things I should be doing. Do I think I will feel less relaxed? Not at all! In fact, I anticipate having greater peace in my life, due to the fact I will be putting time into loving others more fully. I may not see all of the pictures and funny posts I did before, but I do not think I will miss them.
What does this mean for you? I would love to hear what your tangent is and how you plan to bring it back under control.