Diversions: The Silent Killer of Thought

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In a world that is quickly becoming dominated by social media and online experiences, a fatal beat track is being laid, one that is urging us to conform to its rhythms without regard for our souls. Do you hear it? With every click of our keyboards or tap of our smart phones, we sink further into its mesmerizing power. It’s the sirens call of our culture: You need a diversion.

Recently, my life has become engulfed in a torrent of activity, so much so that I find diversions as the only ways to shake the thoughts in my head that this isn’t exactly the way life should be. Why am I so busy? Why is everyone else so busy that you can’t connect – in person? We give up. We turn to diversions.

As depressing as this thought makes me, I learned it’s nothing unique to our culture. People have been struggling with this for years, trading in an opportunity for quiet solitude or reflective thinking in exchange for a diversion.  And this struggle existed long before there were things like iPods and television and movies … and electricity.

In his famous book Penses, Blaise Pascal wrote this about the young people of his generation … all the way back in 1670:

“[Their] lives are all noise, diversions, and thoughts for the future. But take away their diversion and you will see them bored to extinction. Then they feel their nullity without recognizing it, for nothing could be more wretched than to be intolerably depressed as soon as one is reduced to introspection with no means of diversion.”

God says this in admonition of Israel:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” – Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)

I should not fear silence or the stilling of my fingers. Perhaps Chaucer was right in suggesting that “idle hands are the devil’s tools”, but in today’s culture those same hands can’t stop pecking, clicking, grabbing and dragging our minds into any place other than deep thought.

One pastor I respect as a thought leader told me that he begins each morning by sitting in the dark for about 30 minutes, praying, thinking and watching the sunrise. Taking time to think has become a lost art, which might explain why the most popular stories on the web consist of titles like “Three Ways to ____” or “Five Ways to find _____”. Just spoon-feed me, please.

Let us put aside our diversions and begin to think and listen. Hearing God’s voice in my life requires a discipline of sitting down and hearing what he has to say. It may sound like boredom, but it’s a surprising and delightful privilege, one I often forget that we all have when it comes to communicating with the God of the universe.

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