I’ve learned to trust that voice when it whispers a suggestion to silence the clamoring of the world. My soul reached a point of fatigue. The constant barrage of fake news and the assault of emotionally charged stories with a sole purpose to incite us persevered.
The prior week, God showed me the word strength repeatedly.
Psalm 84:5 “Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”
Psalm 18:39 “You have clothed me with strength for battle.”
2 Cor 1:21 “Now it is God who strengthens us, with you, in Christ and has anointed us.”
Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”
Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, You answered me, you increased strength within me.”
Here’s what I’d noticed within myself – I was short-fused, quick tempered, irritable, highly anxious, and angry. I found myself reading the news and scrolling Facebook before spending time quietly with God. Then I’d enter my time with God mad that the world seemed to have lost its mind, angry at the state of disunity in our country, sad at the attacks waged on each other, and anxious about what all this means for our future.
I’d become as distracted as ever. Physically I shared the same space with my kids, but mentally and emotionally I focused on all the information my brain consumed around the clock.
Our souls were not created to handle the amount of information we are fed.
I love learning. I love being informed. Both of these became idols in my life.
I need Jesus today more than I ever have before. We never stop needing Him, but it’s easy to live in a way that pushes Him into the background.
I knew what I needed. A fast. A fast is the only way I’m able to break the addictions and idols that attempt to take root.
For a week I listened as God asked me to come back to Him to find the strength my soul needed for the calling He’s placed on my life. My flesh battled for control. I never want anything other than Christ to have control over me. So I said yes to God to come away from the news, the media reports, the documentaries, the constant stream of information, and the strong opinions filling my social media feeds.
As always happens when I fast from social media and screens in general, I feel like a new human. My chest moved out of my throat. My heart rate slowed to a normal pace. My skin stopped itching. I began to feel love and compassion for other humans again. But the best part, I began to hear God with clarity again.
Before the fast my prayer continued to be “God give me clarity.” All the news is so confusing. Who do we believe? What would you have us to do?
I don’t trust a single media source. One publication one day says the sky is falling. The very next day, the same source reports something that is the complete opposite. God is unchanging. He is full truth. He is faithful. He is just. He is good. Always. I simply need to focus on Him.
As I considered a fast, God gave me several dreams confirming a break would bring the refreshment and clarity I longed for.
So I posted a “see ya later” on social media. I deleted the apps from my phone to remove all temptation. And I haven’t read a single thing in the news in days. And I feel AMAZING!!!
I know this isn’t sustainable, but it is necessary.
The morning following my fast, I had coffee with a friend. We hugged, we chatted, we caught up, and I left feeling God’s sweetness poured out. The same night my family had dinner at a restaurant downtown. It was the 2nd time Steve and I ate in a restaurant since they began opening back up. It felt so normal and exciting, and I enjoyed that night more than I’ve enjoyed a dinner out in a long time. Over the weekend, I shopped in a few favorite stores. Again I was so thankful for the reopening of stores and restaurants. To see people, to interact, even to have small talk, which I usually despise, all of it I hope never to take for granted again!
Saturday night we had friends over for dinner. It’s the first time we’ve had people over since all the Covid chaos began months ago. Community is what we’ve missed the most. We hugged, and laughed, and ate, and played games, and stayed up much too late, but we dared not end a moment too soon. One thing I’ve learned in this season is we never know when a moment in time will be a last or a last for a long time.
My hope is to cherish people, relationships, community, physical contact, and freedom with a renewed spirit.
I know it’s likely time for my fast to end, but I’ve found ending a fast from the online world is harder than starting one. Enjoying real life again is so liberating. The joy the world stole was restored. And I’m so incredibly thankful.
During my time of fast, I asked God if I should silence everything or if there was an audiobook I should listen to which would be beneficial rather than informational. He brought to mind a book I’ve stored away on an app in my phone. The title is Competing Spectacles – Treasuring Christ in a Media Age, by Tony Reinke.
Within minutes I knew this was the message God needed me to hear in response to the cry of my heart regarding the state of our media’s handling of Covid and all the conflicting news we receive daily, which leads people to living in states of fear, stress, and confusion.
“In a news age when blatant shock is the only surefire strategy for gaining viewers, cable news feeds our collective panic, and outrage becomes good business for the newsmakers who can keep our collective cortisol level, our stress hormone, high enough to maintain a constant fight or flight urgency. Christians must guard against these spectacle tactics that manipulate our senses.”
“We are now more media obese than we are physically obese and we are not happier. We are lonelier. We are more depressed.”
“Creation spectacles also demand a response for our worship. We are all made to experience awe, and God’s creation is eager to magnify the Creator in our eyes.” (We must escape screens to experience this.)
“We redeem time by reclaiming our attention.”
Our attention is ours to give as we see fit. The media has a job, steal our attention and keep it. They will use any and all methods, but mostly fear, shock, and awe. It’s how they keep us coming back. I’m over it.
I have a choice to give them my outrage or not. I’m tired of the news deciding I need to feel outraged, angry, sad, confused, or terrified.
I’m taking back my attention. I’m living out the life God has given me. He has called me to live life abundantly here and now.
I’ve been pondering the various aspects of Ecclesiastes 3, particularly “a time to speak and a time to remain silent.” I’ve asked God to clearly reveal to me if I’m to speak or remain silent as it relates to this Covid season of media manipulation. I want to share one of the ways He confirmed.
First, to clarify, I’m not claiming Covid isn’t real. I’ve been quite vocal on social media about this. It’s as real as any flu strain or other virus. For particular people, it’s extremely dangerous, as is the flu. It’s our media I’m so upset with. And I feel many don’t see what I feel God has revealed to me about the psychological war waged on us.
In Competing Spectacles, Tony Reinke says, “Christians must call out worthless things for what they are. We should boldly stand up and expose spectacles of politics, warfare, entertainment, and social media when we sense they are lies, propaganda, or flesh-driven. In the age of the spectacle, few people can see through the mirage of the spectacle industry to call out worthless things. Christians can speak and must speak prophetically to de-mask spectacles as the powerless things they really are. We are called to pull back the curtain and reveal the demonic forces that stand behind nefarious spectacles that dominate our age…”
Maybe you can relate. Maybe your soul is media-wearied too. Maybe this covid season has really placed a heavy burden of stress and fear and you are ready to reclaim the peace Christ promises. Maybe a fast would be good for you too? I’ve never taken a fast and wished I’d stayed plugged in instead.