We are in a time collective hand-wringing over our digital addictions, vices and escapism. Whether a follower of Jesus or not, this is an age where one and all is wondering the effect of our romance turned co-dependency on a digital device. What effect is this having on our marriages? What does this do to our children and parenting? Are we literally altering our brains in ways that are a very real and present danger?
Putting guilt and condemnation aside, this season of Advent is the perfect time assess my place in this digital journey.
Advent is a Season of Waiting
Advent is a season of waiting, anticipating, expecting. Seasons of waiting are pregnant with possibility to dive deeper into our relationship with God and others. More than ever, our times of waiting are filled with the temptation to distract ourselves into our phones, i-pads or other devices.
Not all of our distractions are useless. In fact, “waiting” can become small gaps of time to fill up with “useful activities”. It is common to hear Christians say we need to “redeem the time”. So instead of waiting quietly at a doctors office, you can “redeem the time” by writing an important e-mail or listening to a podcast to learn something new.
The undercurrent is that simple, quiet waiting is wasted time.
The truth is that God repeatedly extols the virtue of simple waiting even when it has no clear- marked goal in sight. Mary and Elisabeth both waited. One for a long-desired birth. The other during an expected birth. Both waited for the coming of the Messiah.
What would happen if you embrace times of waiting instead of distract yourself from it?
Advent is a Season of Dwelling
Advent is also a time of reflecting on the incarnation, when God literally dwells with man. The magnitude of this event on our own lives is rarely understood. We accept that God became flesh all the while trying to escape our own fleshly living. We live in an age when dwelling in the flesh is the antithesis of our normal lives.
Skye Jethani reflected on this,
We may have no problem celebrating Jesus’ incarnation during this season, but we have great difficulty accepting our own. We live in an age that is in active denial of our bodies. Digital technology, for example, offers us the illusion of divine omnipresence. Through our devices we are no longer limited to our physical location. Any given day we may offer more of our attention to people and events on the other side of the planet than to what is happening in our own homes. Christ may have come to “dwell with us” but we prefer to dwell with the people on our phones.
Waiting and Dwelling
And so this season is both a time of waiting and a time of dwelling. Two things that digital devices cannot help us with. They are good for so much but in waiting and dwelling they hinder.
What would it look like for you to embrace quiet waiting and physical dwelling as you head in to Christmas? What practical steps could you take to avoid diving into digital distractions? How could you be more physically present in the location God has placed you each and every day?
Waiting and dwelling, may this advent season find you doing more of both.