I grew up with three channels on our black & white TV: Channel 12 (ABC), Channel 5 (NBC), and Channel 4 (CBS). CBS was coming out of Miami so the reception wasn't that great. The signal was spotty, even with a giant pole-antenna clinging to our house and stretched out like a leafless tree over our roof.
Oh yeah, we also received UHF 34, but that was when programming was "on the air."
It is hard to believe that local TV stations actually "signed off" for the day, but they did. An announcement was made, a song was played, and then the screen reverted to a nondescript pattern of fuzzy gray. Our box went silent because a television station shut down its transmitters and took a rest.
Today, no one signs off. No one takes a rest. Direct TV and Xfinity offer me 24/7 news, sports, and weather; a smorgasbord of channels; and my own "top 100" programs preloaded and ready to watch at the touch of my remote.
The only remote we had growing up was me, "Tom, can you get up and turn the channel!" It is a different day! We have hundreds of digital channels and billions of web pages. Couch potatoes unite!
Commenting on our digital age, authors George Barna and David Kinnaman write:
In the last two decades, three network television stations have morphed into hundreds of digital channels. A handful of reading formats--newspapers, books, magazines--have given birth to new media (e-readers, websites) and social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter). With DVRs, digital season passes, massive multiplayer online gaming, and tablet computers--[people]--have access to more content and information than anyone could hope to absorb and assimilate. So much demands our attention that, as a culture, we are experiencing an epidemic of distraction.
How many times do I have to honk my horn these days because the person in front of me at the stop light is checking email or texting? Barna and Kinnaman continue:
People are more likely than ever to feel they are too busy. They have more commitments, more activities (online and off) that chew up valuable time. When you combine increasing indifference toward church and a culture of short attention spans, you get a lot of people who think they don't have time time for church.
I think the authors are spot-on. In fact, I would go so far to say that people don't have time for God either. So what is the solution?
Shannan and I were in Oxford, England last week. My meeting for the day over, we strolled the grounds of Magdalen College, the home of C.S. Lewis from 1925 to 1954. "It was while he was at Magdalen that Lewis rediscovered his Christian faith, and wrote many of the books which established his reputation," including the Chronicles of Narnia.
Our day in Oxford was hurried, but delightful. The delight came with the history and the views you see below, but especially with the walk down the tree-lined path.
That path, that pace . . . I could feel the difference in my body. For a moment things slowed down. I wonder the part such strolls might have played in the life of Lewis.
I think Isaac appreciated the way things slowed down when he broke from his activities, took a walk in the field, and meditated on God and his work. The Hebrew word for meditate is suh. "The basic meaning of this verb seems to be 'rehearse'. . . or 'go over a matter in one’s mind.' This meditation or contemplation may be done either inwardly (silently reflecting on God's works or God's word) or outwardly (rehearsing aloud God's works)." It is the word used in Psalm 119:15, when the songwriter says:
Martha did not have TV or Internet. Her life was not our 24/7 beehive of activity, but listening to Jesus I would think she was the woman texting away at the red light:
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 ESV
This morning it is as if Jesus is asking me, "Tommy, who are going to be? Are you going to be Martha all 'anxious and troubled,' or will you be Isaac having your soul renewed and your heart encouraged because you paused to meditate on my word and my ways?"
God has a gift for those who slow down, but we have to slow down to experience it. "Taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 77 is a great place to start.
Click here to read and meditate on Psalm 77.
- "In the last two decades ..." from Barna, George, and Kinnaman, David. Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched And How To Connect With Them. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. This excerpt comes from chapter two, "Our Cultural Moment."
- Grammatical explanation from suh, from: Cohen, G. G. (1999). 2255 שִׂיַח. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (875). Chicago: Moody Press.
- "It was while he was a Magdalen . . ." from "C. S. Lewis at Magdalen College."