Last Sunday, I taught my church’s youth group on the subject of sin comes from… We looked at Genesis 3 and discussed the failure of Eve and Adam to obey and their desire to be “like God” and make their own rules. But then I asked, “What was the first failure?” So, we flipped back to Genesis 2:15 where it says,
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Any student of Hebrew will know that in Genesis 2 the word for “keep” is the same as that for “guard” and that it was a priestly duty to guard the garden of the Lord. So, my question to the kids was, “How did the serpent (Satan) get into the garden in the first place?” The answer was that Adam had failed to guard the garden. From there the serpent got in and began to speak to Eve (and Adam who was with her) and they began to listen to the voice of the serpent rather than to the voice of God. Sin is the result of us failing to guard ourselves from the influence of temptation and then listening to the voice of something other than God.
When I put that to the kids, I wondered what was keeping them from listening to the voice of God? Where were they vulnerable and not guarding their hearts? I had to admit that sometimes I spend too much time with all my gadgets… fiddling with my iPhone, checking Facebook, Twitter, my iPad news apps, texting, listening to my iPod, and doing scores of things that keep me from being still and knowing God. So, I put the challenge out there – take one day and shut it all off. Shut out all the noise and distraction and just listen to God’s voice – through His Word and through prayer… A lot of kids took me up on it, but only when I would do it too.
So, yesterday was my E-free Tuesday… And I have to say, it was different. I mean, a lot of my technology usage is not only for distraction, but also for devotion, Bible study, and legit ministry work… I have the Reformation Study Bible and Logos Bible software on my iPad, worship music on my iPod, and I check in with a lot of my congregation through Facebook. But I put all that away. During my devotion I pulled out an actual notebook and pen and Bible with real pages. Admittedly, I did send out one email – pertinent to my job. But during my morning run I did it with only the sound of my breath and pounding of my feet to keep me company. I prayed and just listened, and admittedly the silence was a bit deafening. But in the middle I felt a comfort and a peace. As I wondered what friends and family were doing on Facebook (it was my wife’s birthday yesterday) instead of checking I prayed for them. And there was a bit of a quiet. A respit.
And this morning, when the fast was over, I didn’t immediately go to my computer or iPad. I just kept quiet, as difficult as it was and still is… I kept my mind and heart quiet.