It's your day off. You have planned all kinds of relaxing activities for the day, or maybe you haven't planned anything at all, and that is the beauty of your day off.
You've woken up feeling utterly peaceful about the day and what you stand to not- achieve. You potter your way through your morning routine and thoughtfully ingest your breakfast. Then it happens.
Your phone goes off with a new notification. Is it a message? Is it a retweet? Is it a new email? The job offer you're waiting for? The friend you thought had forgotten you? A breaking news story? The possibilities are endless...
It truly is the wonder of the 21st century to think that we, as human beings, are able to access whatever information whenever we so desire. Nothing is beyond the realm of knowing, and everyone is beyond the realm of blissful ignorance. Not only can we find out instantaneously whatever information or news we desire, people—and the information they wish to transfer—can find us, whenever and wherever.
It's a frighteningly addictive world where knowing and being known are becoming increasingly impossible to escape from. That is unless you decide to switch off, to unplug, and to disconnect yourself.
Now, I know what you're thinking. No, this is not going to be a rant about the over digitalisation of the modern man, where I try to convince you of your immediate need to burn all of your technology and live under the shade of a lonely sycamore tree, eating and wearing nothing except that which comes from God's green earth. I wish to merely explore one simple question:
Where do you find peace?
If we return to our story: the blissful day off can quickly turn into an anxiety-fuelled race to check a new notification. What happens after that?
Research shows our brains are instantly tantalized with the notion of new and exclusive information being fed directly and purposefully to us. The ability to know and the ability to know now can be one of the most gratifying things in our little day off morning routine. But, depending on the content, our carnal desire to be satisfied with knowledge can be met with information that disturbs our hearts and minds to the point of paranoia. Hello, information anxiety.
In short, our peace (defined by the Bible as 'shalom' or 'being complete and right with God and others') is constantly beaten down by our desire to know. And just because we have access to all information doesn't mean we should surrender our peace for the sake of knowing.
To know like God
Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was their desire to know good from evil—to be like God and know all things—that led to humanity's demise. Their desire to know trumped their desire to live in relationship with God, to live in peace in God's presence. Consider the amount of turmoil and restlessness resulting from that one moment of information gratification.
I realise this is a very extrapolated example of information anxiety, but imagine what might have been if Adam and Eve had trusted God with their innate curiosity and decided to live fully satisfied in his presence, rather than choosing to satiate their desire for knowledge.
Even though we have all knowledge at our fingertips; all the news from all over the world; messages from our family; news and demands from friends, employers, and co-workers, we should seek lasting satisfaction in the truth. This is what God wants us to know and dwell on. The rest we should trust in the hands of the God of the universe.
King David said, 'my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul' (Psalm chapter 131, verse 1–2). This coming from the biggest king Israel had ever seen. One would think he had a right to any information he so desired. But King David knew that chasing satisfaction from mere knowledge was never going to help him cultivate a quiet and peaceful soul.
So here's what I'm going to do, and I'd encourage you to give it a try. I'm going to be very selective about the information I expose myself to. I'm also going to be very selective about when and where I respond to those notifications, those emails, and those headlines. I'm going to leave the phone out of my bedroom, out of my morning routine, and on silent when I'm going out for some R&R.
Most of all, I'm going to regularly pursue satisfying knowledge—knowledge that brings peace—also known as the truth that comes from God and His Word. I'm going to take time to quiet my soul and listen to the Holy Spirit—the one who turns truth into peace for my soul.
'But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth... I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.' (John chapter 16, verses 13 and 33)
Blaine Packer is a graduate of Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies who is passionate about media and mission. Currently residing in Launceston, Tasmania, Blaine is involved in both media and local ministry work at Door of Hope Christian Church.
Blaine Packer's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/blaine-packer.html