A few months ago, I deleted all social media on my phone — and I gotta say, I don’t regret it one bit. Every now and then, when soaking in the daily monotony of life, I am tempted to go to the app store and download Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, but the depressed and stressed faces of all the people I see around me glued to their phones keeps me from doing so. I am constantly reminded how far we’ve come from Eden when I sit in a Starbucks, not to mention when I’m stuck in traffic and witness the majority of people living the unexamined and unengaged life, as if the battery life on their phones correlates to the life left inside them. Heck, I see it at church, too. Our daily (or hourly) coffee runs are like a recharge for our souls, like the car chargers in our consoles. We drink coffee simply for the distraction and caffeine it provides, rather than truly enjoying it and allowing the roast to seep into our being and feel the warmth of it transcend through our bones. Perhaps, much like with everything else, we don’t allow ourselves to feel anymore — to do so takes too much time, energy, and effort that we don’t have. We go to coffee out of necessity and habit, rather than for the gift and blessing it is. There is a problem in our lives when our endless hurry prevents us from even enjoying our coffee, much more our spouse, kids, friends, or God Himself. But what if there was a way to escape the modern Babylon we are all captives of? What if we could escape the daily news feeds, endless hustle and bustle, and unnecessary stress and anxiety that this world throws at us? We are all dying, and the pace of this world will wither your bones quicker than a pack of cigarettes.
And no, I’m not suggesting we all quit our jobs and move to a small bungalow off the coast of somewhere beautiful, although I am tempted with that daily (look up “Robins Bay, Jamaica” next time you’re bored). What I’m suggesting is that we tap in to the Kingdom of God — the Kingdom with endless resources that draws us back to Eden — and God Himself. And yeah, this could come through a Bible study, devotions, a small group, books, and any other Christian resource or church program, but those are not what I am suggesting (and quite frankly, they aren’t exactly what Jesus suggested, either. At least not in the way we think of them). Those things are good and healthy, but what I am suggesting is to learn to rest. Afterall, Jesus said to come to Him who are weary, and even well-intentioned church events and programs are enough to wear the…well, just wear me out.
In Isaiah 55, the God of the universe invites us to experience life as it was meant to be. He offers living water to all who are thirsty, despite the lack of money (v. 1). He offers the best of wine and the best of milk, and says that those who listen to him will “eat what is good” (1-2). Those who listen to him will find life, and the weary who come to Him will find rest for their souls (Isaiah 55:3; Matthew 11:29). Our God isn’t holding out on us — He offers us the best. He offers us what is Good, True, and Beautiful. The best of the wine, guys. The best. The doors of the Kingdom have been open — the feast is both here and not yet. We have the opportunity to step into the Kingdom, and invite others to do the same. Why, then, do so many Christians lack rest in their lives? Are our lives so important and busy that we can’t make the time to learn to rest in God’s Goodness, and remind ourselves of the truly remarkable lives we live?
The Evil One truly desires to steal and kill and destroy, and he often does so without us even knowing it. He is always seeking to distort and spoil God’s Goodness, and it is easy to fall for his deception. Whether it be by ensnaring us into the unengaged life, enticing us with sin, or busying us with religious monotony, his success lies in our consent to his destruction. He is slyfully and stealthily stealing our lives, but the way of the Kingdom always provides us with the fountain of peace, love, and joy that we were designed to drink from.
The River of Life overflows with God’s presence from the abundance of His generosity — we just need to be willing to take our shoes off and learn to walk on holy ground. Dallas Willard, the lay theologian known for his contemplations on what it means to truly be a disciple and live from an outflow of the heart of God, says that we must learn to ruthlessly eliminate hurry in our lives.
Perhaps the greatest weapon against hurry, and one of the greatest blessings from God, is the gift of memory. There is a reason people with Dementia no longer act like themselves; the ability to recall past events is one of the many things that makes us truly human. Memories evoke past events — some of which we wish never ended, and others of which we wish never happened. But nevertheless, the memories are a part of who we are, and God uses them to both heal and mend our broken hearts as well as encourage and speak to the cynic within each of us. Perhaps this is why God encourages the Israelites all throughout the Old Testament to remember.
I mentioned earlier that I deleted social media, and for good reason. But as much as I am not a fan of the distraction my phone often is, there is one app that I’ve come to love: the photo album.
When I feel the fog of pessimism and cynicism sneak into my life and feel the weight and stress of this world, I have learned to pray and seek God — and then remember all that He has done in my life and all the stories I have to tell. By learning to live from the outflow of who He is, I have come to rest in who I am. I scroll through my photos, and am reminded of all the Ebenezers I have built to celebrate the Goodness of the Lord. Whether it be that road trip I took to Mexico, the time I got bit by a centipede, the time David and I shared a few beers under a Jamaican moon, or the time I had coffee with Jesus in the jungle, the gift of memory is always enough to soften my chapped heart and allow hope to seep in. Some pictures make me laugh, others make me cry, and still others make me pissed. As C.S. Lewis once said, “In your life, you meet people. Some you never think about again. Some, you wonder what happened to them. There are some that you wonder if they ever think about you. And then there are some that you wish you never have to think about again. But you do.”
As I look back through the past few years and months of my life, I am reminded of all those I love, and all those I have loved. Whether it be of a person or a place, pictures have a way at reminding you of the eternity God has lodged within your heart.
To truly enjoy the Kingdom, we must become like children and learn to both play and rest. So the next time you sip on that $5 coffee, allow yourself to taste it — really taste it. Maybe you’ll find out you’re using Starbucks to find your joy, or maybe you’ll taste something that you’ve been too busy to taste. Go for a run, walk barefoot through the mud, have an intentional conversation with a friend, drink a beer on your back porch, read a book. No matter what you do, do it all with God. Put to death the ways of Babylon.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller