If I could pick one word that I think best describes this generation it would be the word distracted.
I debated whether or not I really needed to take the time to argue my case, so instead of me writing about it, just look up at the people around you. What are they doing? Where are they looking (or not looking)? The next time you’re at a restaurant, watch the people at the tables around you. The next time you’re in class, at work, at home, or at the airport, take a minute to notice what the people around you are doing. Between social media, Netflix, Candy Crush, and the good ‘ole fashion text message, it’s easy to make the case that we’re distracted.
Unfortunately, I’ve not observed much of a difference between Christians and non-Christians on this issue.
Why does this matter? As a pastor, I’ve also observed that this generation has an insatiable desire to hear God speak. And I believe the single greatest thing keeping our generation from hearing God speak is distraction. We’re unable to hear God speak because we’re distracted. We’re unable to hear God speak because there is so much noise in our lives.
It reminds me of how God spoke to Elijah. In 1 Kings 19, God led Elijah out to the mountain. Once Elijah got to the mountain, a strong wind came, but the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake came and shook the mountain, but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire came, but the Lord wasn’t in the fire. Finally, after the fire came, there was the sound of a whisper…and that’s when God spoke. The reality is, sometimes God yells, but most of the time He whispers and we’ll never hear Him speak as long as we’re so distracted.
Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12 (HCSB)
Here is the challenge: put it down. I know it sounds crazy, but life can exist apart from an iPhone and an iPad. Set some parameters. For me, I try not to get on social media before 10am or after 10pm. The goal here is not to create more rules to follow. The goal is to create more space for God to speak into your life.
Why is that important? It’s important because when God speaks, stuff happens. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and [BAM!] there was light.
Austin Wadlow serves as the college pastor at First Baptist Church in Denton, TX. He teaches at a weekly Bible study called Overflow (overflowdenton.org) as well as for other camps and retreats. You can connect with Austin via Twitter: @austinwadlow