What do you do when you have nothing to do?
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40
I’ve always been a “people watcher.” Whether I am in the sitting in a coffee shop, doctor’s office, waiting at a restaurant, or wherever I find myself, I like to “observe” people. This “observing” is actually a time for me to reflect. It is a time of introspection, a time for me to be still and ponder how the Father might be working in someone’s life, in my own life, or in my surroundings.
(Where and how do you make time for reflection?)
Now, though, I often find myself in these situations picking up my phone to check a notification, browse and read the internet, text, use an app or listen to audio (or, on rare occasions, engage in an old-fashioned “telephone call”). The last remaining place I’m guaranteed to be alone with my thoughts, to reflect and have time for introspection, is in the shower.
A few months ago I read an article in the New York Times claiming we have entered an era where The End of Reflection is near. Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows” states, “Finding moments to engage in contemplative thinking has always been a challenge, since we’re distractible, but now that we’re carrying these powerful media devices around with us all day long, those opportunities become even less frequent, for the simple reason that we have this ability to distract ourselves constantly.”
A 2015 paper in the journal PLOS One measured smartphone use via an app from participants ages 18 to 33 and also asked them to report their estimates. If the data is any indication, most of us use our phones more than we think: Participants estimated an average of 37 uses throughout the day (anything that turns on the screen, from hitting snooze to making a call), but the actual number was around 85. (Participants also underestimated duration of use by about an hour — the real total was 5.05 hours — which included phone calls and listening to music when the screen was off.)
I personally am not an alarmist when it comes to technology. I love gadgets and the progress and ease they allow. Yet, in a world in which a phone or computer is rarely more than arm’s length away, are we eliminating introspection and reflection, times that we formerly would have been examining our ways and connecting with the Father?
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Haggai 1:5-7
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4
We would be wise to take the time to “consider/meditate/reflect” on this truth.