We are surrounded by thousands of messages per day. Social scientists estimate that we see as many as 20,000 marketing messages per day. Science has estimated that our senses are bombarded with 11 million bits of data every second! We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made! The average person’s working memory can only handle 40-50 bits max. That means we are ignoring 10,999,950 bits of data every second we are awake. No wonder I feel tired when I try to focus in at work or read a book – there is sensory data competing for my attention constantly.
While God did a great job creating our brains, I don’t think that His intent was to push them to the breaking point with thousands of messages a day. Although many of the messages may be good and helpful, it seems that the “noise” of our culture is robbing us of the ability to truly sit with God and not be pulled away. It was Socrates who said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Truly a life without times of self reflection, is a rushed, frantic, thin, brittle, anxious life.
Don’t blame the fortune 500 companies for the pace you’ve chosen for your life, they believe that they will make your life better if you buy their product. All of the rushing around we do as Americans has left us hungry for substance, for meaning, and in the deepest part of our soul, hungry for rest and proper perspective.
When I am honest with myself, I can admit that I choose to self-medicate with entertainment when moments get quiet instead of taking advantage of the moment by doing something that will bring me life. It can be something as benign as playing solitaire or watching a baseball game or a movie. Entertainment is not evil, but I have allowed it to replace much of the time I need to be sitting in my chair quietly praying, asking God questions, writing in my journal, pondering things or even laying down with my eyes closed listening to music.
In this season, when I have a wonderful opportunity to spend time reflecting and growing a bit closer to God, instead I am trying to pay attention and not “punt” directly to entertainment. The Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.” I need to work on being still.
This week we built some tables for our backyard so we can entertain larger groups. While I was sanding, staining, painting and distressing the wood, I found wonderful peace in the solitude of the moments alone on the patio. I felt the Lord was leading me to consider certain things, bringing the things to mind that He wanted me to think about. I didn’t make any life changing decisions, but I did emerge from that time with more peace than I had when I started. I was uninterrupted during that time, and feel more alive now than I did last week.
What choice will you make to limit the “noise” and say no to the ever present temptation to be entertained? Will you draw away to a place where you can reflect and be filled up by God? Your secret place may be as close as your back patio!
For the next six weeks we will look at choices we must make in order to move us down the path of living “life to the fullest.” I look forward to starting this journey this Sunday and hope to see you at either the 9am or 11am service!