When Jesus took time for spiritual renewal, he went into the wilderness. He stepped away from all the trappings of his work. He traveled without a laptop. Without a calendar. He even left his disciples at home. In other words, Jesus left behind the first-century version of distractions so that he could fully unplug.
When it was time for me to take days away for spiritual renewal, I too went into the wilderness. I unplugged like Jesus. The Pacific Northwest was my destination. But unlike Jesus, I was planning on bringing my laptop and my calendar, so that I could squeeze in a few work commitments.
Unplug From Modern Distractions When Reconnecting With God
My spiritual director put a hard stop to that. “You want to connect with God? Leave your laptop and your calendar at home.”
At first, I resisted. I hadn’t been without these two elements of modern, mobile work-life in years. What if someone needed me? How would I journal? Or schedule in something for the future? I felt naked.
But underneath these nagging concerns lay a deeper question: Who would I be without the accoutrements of a busy life? Who would I be without work?
The answer to this question quickly became clear. Who would I be? I would be present. Present to the beauty of the towering trees and snow-covered mountains around me. Present to my husband and friends. Most of all, present to God.
Like other spiritual leaders, I had fallen into the trap of being so busy working FOR God, that I was not actually present TO God. My recent wilderness sojourn showed me the difference.
Now that I have had this experience, I see the wisdom of being unplugged like Jesus.
In fact, there is a strong biblical tradition of unplugging from work to ENJOY the wonders of life. Not only did Jesus go deep into nature to connect with God; so God, early in the days of creation, paused from making work in order to enjoy the finest part of creation: the Sabbath.
I can’t help but wonder what 21st-century life would be like if we practiced unplugging more often. Not just from laptops and calendars, but social media as well. Social and political polarization isn’t accidental. It’s reinforced by provocative clickbait, and outrageous headlines.
Unplug Like Jesus To Increase Your Ability To Self-Regulate
While cell phone and tablet engagement are known to reduce attention spans and constrict healthy social interactions, the opposite is also true. Being unplugged slowly restores a person to a less jangled state of mind—increasing one’s ability to self-regulate. With self-regulation, it’s even possible to tune in to the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit.
More than the latest news, spiritual leaders need this deep nourishment of the Spirit.
Jesus, unplugged, was able to refresh and carry on the challenging work before him. It’s not easy to love your neighbors, raise up disciples, send out apostles, and take on the status quo. Jesus couldn’t have done it without being rested and renewed in God. Spiritual leaders today need the same opportunity.
It’s time to unplug like Jesus.
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