Katie Snipes Lancaster
Scripture: 1 Kings 19:11–13
The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance.
Spiritual Practice: Unplugging
Don’t be surprised. After a year of “plugging in” in order to connect, being “unplugged” might seem paradoxically delightful and strenuous. Strenuous because “plugging in” has been our lifeline. Delightful because, well, I hardly need to even say why: unplugging can be delightful. Bask in the not-knowing what’s in your inbox. Trust that the incoming phone call can wait. Ignore the text message. Turn off the phone, for God’s sake.
And, isn’t that what a spiritual practice of “unplugging” looks like: turning off the devices for the sake of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. When our High Schoolers rave about mission trips and wilderness weeks away, they almost always mention leaving their cell phones behind. They think they cannot live without this device they’ve been glued to since 6th grade (or, in the case of our youngest generation, since they were three), and then they see what happens when they walk away for a week, and suddenly they are transformed. Room for God emerges when we are not distracting ourselves with data, playing a mindless game, or responding to “urgent” emails from institutions to which we are beholden late into the night.
What will get you to unplug? Who will be your “unplugging” accountability partner? What boundaries will you set for yourself or others? Will you have an out-of-office reply that says “For the immediate real life-or-death urgent calls, please send a note to so-and-so who knows how to find me”? Will you unplug for 24 hours? A week? What about unplugging every night from 8–midnight? Or every morning from 4–8 am?
God we are so grateful:
Grateful to text our friends,
Grateful to facetime our loved ones,
Grateful to email our committees and boards,
Grateful to post our lives on social media,
Grateful to watch worship online in a pandemic.
And yet, we long for renewal.
And yet, we search for stability.
And yet, we are weary of our screens.
Push us into new rhythms.
Help us unplug.
And in doing so, let your spirit breathe new life in our midst,
And renew us for seeking you in and through our everyday lives.