I fear my “smart phone” has outsmarted me. Earlier this week I was sitting in a worship service seeking to pay attention to the service. Since I had a Bible “app” on my cell phone I used it during the Scripture reading. As the pastor explained the text I found my mind thinking about the score in the Texas Ranger baseball game that evening.
Since my “smart phone” could also tap into the “world wide web”, I decided to check out the score during the sermon, while trying to appear to be looking up another verse. At this point it hit me. I was not “present” in the service. My body was there but my mind had wandered off to the “Ball Park in Arlington.”
I must admit I fell under a heavy weight of conviction asking myself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I pay attention?” Then I realized I had allowed my “smart phone” to outsmart me. I had given control of my mind to a tiny communication tool in my pocket.
Quickly I turned off my phone, plunged it deep into my pocket and turn my full attention to the preacher. I realized that “loving God with all my mind” requires giving Him my full attention especially in worship. It demands focus.
As I drove home after the service it dawned on me that I had become addicted to my “smart phone.” My mind drifted back to a morning when I was sitting in a Barnes and Noble in Amarillo. As I sat there waiting for my wife, I noticed three people at a table across the room from me. They appeared to be three close friends who had decided to share a cup of coffee together, but what was strange about the scene was that each one of them was talking on his or her cell phone.
I thought to myself at the time how odd that looked and how it was a parable of our time. As a people we are together but we are not really together. We have inadvertently allowed our technology that was designed to connect us to each other to rob us of “presence.” We sit together, yet we talk to someone else out of the room.
I remember telling myself that I would never fall for that bloody trap, but I did. Too often I find myself sneaking a peak at my “smart phone” during the evening meal with my wife and daughter, during a lull in a committee meeting, and now sadly even in a worship service.
Now I realize when the “smart phone” takes a seat next to me at the dinner table and I allow it to rob me of being truly present with those I love I have given into a sinister form of unfaithfulness. Paul taught rightly that “love is not rude”, and I now grasp that my quest for the latest score or checking my email or text in essence is the embodiment of being “rude” to those I love.
So how do I outsmart my “smart phone”? First, I discovered it has an “off button.” So now I intend to turn it off when it is time to be present with those I love. Second, the power to turn it off or lay it aside rests in the heart. It is a matter of love. I choose to give my undivided attention to those I love as a priceless gift. Honestly there is no greater gift we can share with each other than to be fully present when we are together.