Off the Grid

outhouse

It was one the best weekends I can remember having in quite a while.

And I am convinced this is the reason: I turned off the smart phone and went off the grid for two days.

I was available to three people: my wife and my two kids.  My world shrunk, if only for moments. And it was holy.

After I got over the initial withdrawal symptoms and the clamoring objections of the seven reasons why powering down was a “bad idea” (insert irresponsible, naïve, unnecessary, unwise, uncaring), I could feel some shift from the inside out.

I was caught off guard by how quickly I could be present to God, to my wife, to my kids.

The context and external activity for the weekend was quite typical: a date with Cherie, adventure with the kids, watching a Steelers game at the local sports bar, family meals.  But internally it was an entirely different story. I was present; my attention was undivided.

Psalm 86 has David pleading for an undivided heart.  I don’t fully know what that’s all about, but I think he is on to something absolutely critical and life changing.  This weekend I felt undivided, whole, less ripped with anxiety and stress.

I was present.

The pace, the accessibility, and the endless choices (and decisions) in our technological and postmodern world are incompatible with the way of the heart. (see Henri Nouwen for more).

nouwen

 What if our commitment (and addiction) to being absolutely “available” through our smart phones and email actually renders us mostly unavailable to those under our own roof, to our own hearts, and to our God?

We must find alternatives in order to live with that undivided heart and be truly and substantively present to God in the moment-by-moment rhythm of our days.

This season of the masculine journey is arguably more challenging than any other.  Young marriages. Young kids. Young careers. Demands on every side.

What better season to cultivate the interior life than when any choice towards it seems utterly foolish to the world around us in light of the incessant demands?

“You shall know them by their fruit.”

remarked Jesus.  A quick and clear test of most things to know if we have found ourselves on the narrow path. Carry a decision to its logical outcome. Test the fruit, as Oswald Chambers suggests.

This fruit is really good.  Really, really good.

This choice to narrow our focus, resist the temptation to be endlessly available, and to be fully present to the moment at hand bears such beautiful fruit. Perhaps we’ll actually catch the look of longing to play and connect in our son’s eyes.  Like when I got to witness his joy yesterday chopping down a small tree for the first time, with an axe, all by himself. Perhaps we’ll have the capacity to let the beauty of our daughters actually sink in and affect us, like when I was able to sit in the garage and watch my little princess do a spontaneous dance for me on the tailgate of my truck. Perhaps we’ll be able to catch a glimpse of our wife moving through the kitchen and be present enough for her to take our breath away. Perhaps we will actually hear the still small voice of our Father calling us His beloved son…

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Put a reminder in your digital to calendar for Friday night to power down the digital IV for two days.  Pay attention to what’s behind every reason that surfaces not to do it. And then ask Jesus into that very place.

It is interesting that Jesus was one of the great proponents of this bold and daring act in the first place. If you recall from Mark 6:30-31, it was Jesus who, in the midst of the chaos, invited His closest allies to come away to a quiet place and take a rest from the “constant coming and going” of people and their needs.

Go Off the Grid for a while.

Who knows, maybe it’ll become contagious and we’ll all sleep a little better in the days ahead. Perhaps by going OTG we might actually bless others and in some way minister to them, freeing them to follow our lead.  Perhaps we’ll all have more of the abundant life, and leave more footprints on the narrow road we so long to travel…

Holy Spirit, how do You want me to go Off The Grid?

When do You want me to do it?

What is keeping me from doing it that is not from You?  Show me how to clear the debris. (Isaiah 62, Hebrews 12:13)

I confess, I can’t do this alone. I need You, Father. I receive a Spirit of Sonship.  I need You, Jesus.  I need Your LIFE, Your inextinguishable life flooding into me, washing out all the other voices and demands. I receive You.  Holy Spirit, show me the way.  I choose to follow…

A few related Posts that might be helpful:

Muskrat

Vacation – Why I can’t Afford Not To