I haven’t watched TV since Wednesday morning. Guess what? No one has died…yet. I didn’t realize how entertwined television watching had become with some of my daily tasks. Doing dishes necessitates The Office. Heaven forbid I actually enjoy a bath in silence. Good thing there’s Parks and Rec to entertain me. Without television, I have played the piano, prepared fennel, went on a morning walk with my dog, went on an evening walk with my husband and my dog, went to a birthday party for a college roommate and then sat around for two hours discussing justice and excess with people that I love, tried to convince Alex to do Improv with me, looked at how much buying a house would cost us, learned how to tie knots, ate a grapefruit (which I’m not sure are meant to be eaten), and read a book about the Illuminati. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention giving up TV has also given space for God to move in my life. So, there’s that.
I recently finished reading a book called No Impact Man by Collin Beavan. It’s a secular book that’s basically about consuming less in order to save the planet. Whether you agree that global warming is a problem or not, the book is an interesting read because it talks about all of the wonderful things that he gains when he gives things (actual things like electricity and disposable cups) up.
“Here’s the big question I have about progress: If we can have better and better cell phones, but they are not accompanied by better and better understanding of ourselves and our place in this universe, can we really say that we have progressed? If we are born and then spend our lives moving from one toy to the next, without ever answering the big questions, have we progressed or have we simply been distracted?”
I realized this week that I have been a zombie for months and months. By zombie, I mean that I have gone from task to task, day to day without thinking, without praying, without purpose. Move to a duplex? Sure! Why not? Watch TV all the dang time? Couldn’t hurt! Spend money on crap I don’t need? Everyone else is! Distraction has been my battle cry for a while now. I’d been blind to what God was doing and wanted to do.
Story time! Saul, who later became Paul of “Let’s travel all over the known world and get persecuted for telling people about Jesus” fame, was just on his way to Damascus so that he could innocently arrest Christians to imprison them and persecute them when all of a sudden, a light from heaven (not a headlight from one of those annoying cars that replaces regular bulbs with blubs from a lighthouse) stops Paul dead in his tracks. He falls to the ground and a voice says, “Yo dawg, why you gotta do me like that?” (Beth paraphrase version) Saul said, “Who are you?” The voice says, “I’m Jesus. Get up and go into Damascus. They’ll tell you what to do.” So, Saul stands up and…he’s completely blind. Can’t see a darned thing. Jesus had sent word ahead to Ananias to tell him that Paul was coming and not to be afraid (by revealing that Paul is who God has chosen to tell the Gentiles (non-Jews) about the good news of Jesus). So, Paul comes ambling into Damascas and Ananias finds him. Ananias goes up to Saul and says, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, scales fall off of Saul/Paul’s eyes and he can see again. His first act with his new vision? Getting baptized. (If you want to read the real version, click here. )
I’ve had a similar experience this week. Let me tell you in a parallel story. Zombie Beth, who is not persecuting followers of Jesus but is politely ignoring God in her daily life, is simply sitting at the computer in a screen-induced trance, just like she does daily, when a blog pops up on her facebook newsfeed. Beth reads the blog and it is like a bright light snapping Zombie Beth out of her funk. The scales of media distraction, materialistic excess, self-absorbed time management fall off her eyes and the first thing she sees is Jesus, who has been waiting patiently for her to remember His love and His mercy and His justice.
The theme of my week has been new- anew, renew, new life. Because my job is amazing, I got to go to the American naturalization ceremony for one of my sweet students-turned-friend. I’m not a die-hard patriot who bleeds red,white, and blue, but I was trying very hard not to cry (and it’s not just because they showed a video that would make an American-hating terrorist weep). My sweet friend is starting a new chapter in her life- one where she can enjoy peace and freedom in a new country, one where she can finally bring her children over from Ethiopia to live with her. Her new life started on Thursday.
What I’ve realized is that Zombie Beth has been going through life with scales over her eyes. I’ve been distracted. Distracted by the consumeristic culture in which we live, distracted by the massive amounts of media, distacted by a life that has been crammed full of things that don’t matter. Just this week, God has re-opened my eyes so that I can see Him working in my life, so that I can hear Him speaking to me throughout the day, so that I can see His heart for people. My old life was a total distraction and I’m waking up to a new life.
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:23)
If you haven’t seen this video, then you need to watch it six times. Then pray that this lady will be your neighbor/best friend some day.