I broke my new iPhone 6 last week. Picking up the shards of “my life” from the slate-tile bathroom floor was beyond humbling.
Over the next few days, the phone died a slow and painful death — leaving me utterly out of reach from family, friends and clients. It was surreal. I missed my playlists, my social channels, my blog dashboard. I found myself reaching aimlessly for the device every few minutes, just to see if maybe it had miraculously come back to life. Nope.
I was shocked (and embarrassed) at how much I missed it.
Driving home from a late worship service in town, I started feeling tired behind the wheel without my Pandora stations. I reached for the factory radio dial, trying to remember how FM channels even worked — and I stopped cold.
Instead, I opened my Trailblazer sunroof and all four windows to reveal a crisp, perfect fall night. The wind overwhelmed me at first, but I began to hear a peaceful hum behind the gusts of air. My engine roared. Crickets sang. Thrashing corn stalks kept the beat along the winding country back-road home.
It was a high-volume silence — nature’s symphony, conducted by The Creator Himself, uninterrupted by digital distraction. It was intoxicatingly peaceful.
The drive home was His gift to me — one I’d have missed completely with my iPhone in tact. I experienced a taste of the joy of worldly unavailability and the beauty of silence. In my heart, I know I need more of both.
Do I believe God broke my phone?
Of course not. God isn’t a jerk, and that would be a jerk thing to do.
Do I believe He allowed my phone to break so He could draw near to me through silence? Absolutely, I do.
In fact, I believe He can use even our most frustrating circumstances to reveal Himself to us if we’re quiet enough to listen.
Tapping Into the Discipline of Silence
I believe technology is a gift. It brings education, entertainment and can even deepen relationships when used appropriately. But too much of a good thing can lead to compulsive behavior and even addiction. Our desire to be connected can turn unhealthy in an instant, especially with an over-abundance of devices, channels and messages competing for our attention.
We’re perhaps right where we’re supposed to be — and yet, it’s increasingly difficult to be present wherever we are.
What’s more, these digital distractions can prevent us from having a genuine encounter with God. If you want to know what God is saying to you, I encourage you to find time to be quiet and listen. Silence is a discipline — one we would all benefit from practicing regularly.
Here are 5 quick ways to tap into the discipline of silence and tune into God’s voice:
- Let go of your mobile. I don’t recommend smashing your phone to bits like I did — that can get expensive. But remember, your mobile device is not a part of your body. You have permission to walk into the other room without it. You can enjoy dinner with family without it in your pocket. I promise — it will be ok.
- Exercise without headphones. This one was NOT easy for me. I know driving rhythms can bolster endurance and numb your mind from the pain. But running in silence can clear your mind for a genuine encounter with God — especially if you can get outside!
- Shut down after dark. Choose a reasonable technology cutoff time for your lifestyle. Avoid calls, texts and other digital demands that can creep into your evening and interrupt your sleep. Read a book, take a bath, do some stretches — whatever you need to wind down your mind before bed.
- Try a digital fast. Schedule a few hours to say “no” to screen time. This is especially rewarding for me as a writer — I spend 8+ hours a day in front of a laptop screen and I just need to go cold turkey once in a while. During your fast, try replacing screen time with scripture reading, devotions, meditation and prayer — you know, those things you think you don’t have time for.
- Observe a digital sabbath. If your digital fast proves life-giving, try scheduling time weekly or even monthly to purposefully and completely unplug. It’s a great way to rest your eyes, relieve your stress and snag some quality time with God and family. I have seen friends do it for an entire day, taking emergency calls only. TIP: Set up auto-replies and tell a few friends what you’re up to before going off the grid.
Make time to be quiet and listen — see if you can hear what God is saying to you. Spending purposeful, quiet time with God will prove the most rewarding part of your day — and ultimately, your life.
Don’t believe me? Give it a try! (Let me know if you need someone to break your phone…)
Psst! I’m still new at this discipline of silence, so I’d love some fresh ideas!
How do you unplug? Comment below to share your secrets to hearing God’s voice.