As I write, I am looking out over the vast and cold Atlantic Ocean as I come to the end of a short family getaway at the beach. I have shut off my mobile phone. I have closed all unnecessary programs on my computer. I have turned off the music I had been listening to while I read a few articles online, and, as is my habit before sitting down to write, I prayed and asked the Lord to grant me discernment as I strive to write for his glory and for the edification of his people.
The missionary and martyr Jim Elliott (1927–1956) wrote, “The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds. . .Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” It is difficult to escape the busyness, noise, and crowds of life. We are bombarded by a host of amusements and contraptions, most of which we have enthusiastically welcomed into our lives, homes, communities, and churches. We have conditioned ourselves to distraction, and we are leading the next generation down the same path in a hurry. C.S. Lewis wrote, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private.” We stand at a crossroads, and we will either rediscover the lost virtues of listening, meditating, and thinking, or we will amuse ourselves to death.
However, our problem lies not in our twenty-first-century tools and toys, but in our inability to use them without them using us. Every gadget we own was invented to make life easier and simpler, and, in God’s providence, every device, network, and program is given to us by God to use for His kingdom, His gospel, and His glory. God has called us to subdue the earth, and we do this by listening intently to His Word, meditating on it, carefully thinking through how to apply it, and being doers of it as we commune with God and live in community with one another in the family, the church, and the world. We are made for family, we are made for worship, we are made for community, and we are made to engage the world as we follow Jesus Christ, bringing the light of His gospel to a dark world. But in order to do this well, with biblical discernment, ancient wisdom, and enduring passion, we must recover the disciplines of listening, meditating, and thinking as we live coram Deo, before the face of God.