March 22, 2021
What Are You Picking Up?
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"Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well." Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NIV)
My youngest daughter Lucy is crossing the divide between child and teenager, but she doesn't have a phone or social media yet. Since we've delayed devices, I was a little defensive when my husband said, "Do you even notice Lucy? She's on your phone a lot. She constantly picks it up to take a photo, text a friend or use an app."
She constantly picks it up.
This phrase rang in my ears. Suddenly, it wasn't just about Lucy. It was about me. How often do I pick up my phone for a quick break, an attempt at connection or to appease my curiosity? If I'm talking with my daughter about a movie, and I don't remember the name of the actor who's in it, I'll just ask Google. I'm constantly picking up my phone to answer questions because it's always there and readily available.
Many times, I pick up my phone because I'm procrastinating. Why sit and focus on writing this devotional when I can be checking the weather, checking email, checking anything that's not the work at hand? Technology has given us an unlimited ticket to escape - and our meandering even looks legitimate since so much work is done online.
The difference is that what I keep picking up (social media, news, texts, shopping, movies) can keep me from doing my other work - the work God has called me to do. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 11:6 to "Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."
Sow means "to scatter seed upon the earth for growth" and "to set something in motion" such as beginning a project. This verse is an encouragement to have a strong work ethic. Keep planting. Be diligent. Put effort into your relationships. You don't know what exactly is going to pay off, but there is a principle at work: You reap what you sow. And if you don't sow anything, you don't reap anything.
We face a modern temptation that women in previous generations didn't. It's easier to scroll than to sow. It's easier to sit than to start. It's easier to watch Netflix than to wait for a harvest.
Constantly picking up my phone doesn't only mess with my work; it can mess with my relationships. My phone can be more interesting than my husband. After all, this far into marriage, I can pretty much guess what my husband is going to say and do, but technology is much more unpredictable. From following shocking headlines to seeing who tagged me in a photo, I can be distracted from paying attention to my loved ones.
Yet my phone can never satisfy my emotional needs like a real, live person can. Devices can become like the idols described in Psalm 115:4-5, which says "... their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see" (NIV).
The connections we make on social media, texting and email can be positive, but they can never substitute for live human connection. Texting a friend is good. Talking over the phone is better. Getting together for coffee is better still - when we can safely gather. We can constantly "connect" to others on our devices yet remain relationally malnourished. When you can't be together in person with someone, technology can bring you together (especially during a socially distant pandemic season!). But when you're in the same house or room, it tends to separate.
Being aware of what we're picking up can lead us to set healthy boundaries. So, my husband James and I decided to change my phone password to make it more challenging for Lucy to pick up for a mindless, unintentional scroll. And because of this, I'm realizing it's good not just for Lucy to have boundaries around the phone ... it's good for me too.
Lord Jesus, help me to be aware of what I'm constantly picking up. Are there digital habits I need to break? Am I using my time wisely? I need Your help to fill my mind with what is true, lovely and good. Guide me today in Your grace and help me to plant good seeds in my home and workplace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 2:1-2, "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." (NIV)
Need help to better manage screen time in your home? Arlene Pellicane's book, Screen Kids, (co-authored with Dr. Gary Chapman) is available in the bookstore.
You are invited to hear Arlene and Dr. Gary Chapman from the comfort of your home. Web events "Winning the Screen Wars" and "Screen Wars: Grandparents Edition" now available.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are you constantly picking up online throughout the day? How can you limit your access to unhealthy influences or time-wasters? How might you "pick up" righteousness instead?
If you have a child, how can you set a guard over what they watch and listen to? How can you gently guide them instead to the Truth of the Bible (which ultimately leads to their happiness)?
We'd love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.