Aside from the flip, flip, flip of his thumb on the small screen in his hand and one moment of audible laughter that started as quickly as it stopped, the man sitting across from me in the waiting room didn’t move and didn’t look up for the entire hour we were there together.
The expression on his face remained the same throughout, too. It was that kind of neutral, vacant, expressionless expression so common these days. It reminded me of a person in a vegetative state.
What was he looking at?
What was he looking for?
I’m not pointing fingers. I’ve been there. Truth be told, I was there this morning scrolling through my newsfeed while I should have been writing this post.
What was I looking for? Whatever it was, I can tell you this: I didn’t find it.
Advent continues. Christmas approaches.
Time won’t wait for us while we bathe our faces in the light of our screens, bowing our heads to behold a million numbing words and images.
I don’t think technology is inherently evil. But I also have to admit I repeatedly pick my phone up and later wish I hadn’t. I’ve never had the opposite experience.
This post isn’t really about our devices. It’s about searching for joy.
This time over 2,000 years ago, as Mary and Joseph were making their way to Bethlehem, shepherds were going about their lives as usual. Until the angel appeared, shaking them out of the lives they’d settled into. The Scriptures say that when the angel appeared, “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9). How did that light shine? And how did the shepherds feel in its glow?
In that moment, the angel pronounced these words to them:
Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people… (Luke 2:10).
I think that’s what I scroll looking for. A joy that fills me from the inside, bathes my face in light, opens my eyes, and lifts my head. A joy that doesn’t make me forget my sorrows, but absorbs them and makes them all right and good again.
I won’t find that looking into a screen. But I already know that, so why do I keep coming back? In part, because I doubt I’ll find that kind of joy anywhere. So many of those who come to Regen are in this same place—running to porn or affairs or codependent relationships or hook-ups because whatever they say they believe about God, somewhere deep down they doubt the quality of joy God has in store.
And this brings me back again to Advent. Waiting—not a waiting like biding time through distraction in a doctor’s office. But an active waiting. A craving. An inner and outer reaching, tearing our eyes from down and lifting them up, stretching our hearts toward joy.
O Lord, awaken our slumbering, despairing hearts, that we might dare to wait, dare to desire the great Joy awaiting us. Make us like the persevering wise men who lifted their eyes and bathed their faces in the light of a distant star, leading them to a simple babe. Lord, we long for more than momentary laughter. We long for You, our soon and coming source of infinite Joy.
I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
Logging off and looking up,
I almost felt guilty looking at my screen to read this, Josh, but it is right on.
Thanks for the poke and reminder
Ha! I almost felt guilty looking at my screen writing it.
God recently powerfully ministered to me and showed me why I kept searching for joy elsewhere. I believed I had NEVER experienced anything in my life that I thought was even remotely close to the intense ecstasy and high in sexual addiction, even in my most profound experiences with God. That ecstasy was so intense that even though I knew despair and shame would come after my sexual sin, I was willing to pay the price for that high.
Recently, I was in a prayer ministry session for another person. At the end of the ministry session, the team leader asked each of us if we had anything to share with the person receiving ministry. As I was sharing, I suddenly became speechless and knew God was showing me something very personal and powerful for me. Then it hit me……..I was actually feeling more joy and ecstasy in seeing this person get set free than I ever experienced in my addiction.
This awesome, personal gift from God to me gives me great encouragement as I celebrate this Advent season and look forward to 2018!
Thanks for sharing, Scott. I’ll be pondering that this joy came to you in the midst of you giving/praying/serving.
Thanks for the great reminder to “look up”. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
In considering what changes I would like in the new year, I thought of “less online distractions.” That reminded me of this line from your Dec 19 post concerning time online: “What was I looking for? Whatever it was, I can tell you this: I didn’t find it.” If I am looking to be filled online (looking for life, perhaps?) I won’t find it there. Thanks for that reminder. I plan to try to spend more time looking Heavenward.