As a media professional, it is seldom that I am unplugged. I have my cell phone with me every place I go. I check my email, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WordPress, Groupme, Whatsapp, text messages and any number of stupid games I play several times every day. Even when I am completely disconnected from modern communication technologies travelling somewhere, I always still have my laptop and camera with me. Does being so connected actually cause a disconnect?
There is great debate that takes place over the connectivity we enjoy in America. Poor grammar and improper spelling is almost expected more often than not due to text messaging and emailing that takes place using mobile devices. It is rare that you will find a dinner table without at least one person on their mobile device at some point during the meal. That is only possible if there is a family dinner in the first place. Our culture has become so connected virtually that our face to face relationships have in some ways become disconnected. Have you found that to be the case in your own life?
Today, I am writing from the island of Cuba where I have no connection. I do not speak the language of the locals. I do not have cellular connection. I do not have Internet access. There is no GPS, translation software, Wikipedia or social media. I am here by myself and it can be a lonely feeling to be so disconnected. But, I would still say try it sometime. Turn your phone to airplane mode for a couple days. Stay away from television, the Internet, your email and even the radio. You’ll have no idea what is going on in the world.
What does complete disconnection accomplish? I’m sure there is a chance of some missed emails or deadlines because of it. You might not know who got sent home on your favorite reality TV show or what celebrity got caught sending dirty pictures. There is a chance you’d miss out on some great gossip and you certainly won’t get to post the generic, “Happy Birthday” to your Facebook friend that you haven’t seen in years (and would have no idea when their birthday was if not for Facebook).
I have no idea what negative things my being disconnected has caused because I am still disconnected. But, some things I do know; I miss my wife and kids who I am most connected with. Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder. If you know me at all, that is a difficult thing because I am so in love with my family that the thought of being more is hard to fathom. An email, phone call or even FaceTime are so much more impacting when you have been apart. When we speak to one another in the same room, it is not unusually for one of us to still be on our phone, computer or tablet while communicating. (In my defense, I am always multitasking so I promise I am comprehending everything she is saying to me). But when I am disconnected like this, if we were to speak on the phone, there is no question that we would each have the other’s undivided attention. Neither one of us has to keep saying the same thing in different ways in the hopes that the other really understands.
That reality has the same effect in my relationship with God. Life is always crazy with so many different forms of distraction. If I get a text while I am praying, it distracts me. If my push notifications fetch my email during worship, my phone buzzes and I wonder what the notification is. No matter what I am doing, being “connected” means that I can be reached regardless of what is being interrupted.
Sometimes it can be hard to hear God’s voice. That may be because we are too busy looking for messages from someone else or about something else. The first 24 hours of this journey to Cuba wasn’t so warm and fuzzy for me. Nothing bad happened but I was kind of lost and alone in a foreign country without connectivity. Things were not working out as planned and I was discouraged. But then I received a message. It wasn’t a buzz on the cell phone, it was a word from the Lord. He said I needed to trust in Him and not always try to do everything myself. This trip didn’t require an hour by hour itinerary because He was in control.
I was discouraged until the Lord introduced me to the head of missions for the Baptist Convention who just happened to be meeting with 65 missionaries down the hall from me. They were about to be sent out to plant churches across the island. In minutes, the very rough start to my trip was validated so that God could have his way. To make things better, the same pastor asked if the Today With God project could be utilized in their annual convention for the roughly 800 pastors and leaders that would be coming together in March. There is no way I could have made this happen.
It definitely took some time to get through to me. I don’t know how easy that would have been if I had all the connectivity that I am so accustomed to enjoying. I would have followed the plan and would not have had the opportunity to recognize how badly I need the Lord.
Don’t misunderstand me. I appreciate connectivity and look forward to returning to it; just not as much as I am looking forward to returning to my wife and kids. How about you? Do you ever think that all the “connectivity” you enjoy clouds your relationship with family, friends or even God?