I love 'Media Fast—Bible Feast' week. Having missed it last year due to the very recent arrival of our second child, I was more eager than ever to turn off the ‘pings’ from my phone and get stuck into and learn from God's Word.
So on the Sunday evening (the night before the fast began), I gladly went to ‘settings’ —> ‘notifications’ and began silencing my apps, a tangible relief settling in as I went through the list, and on my phone it’s a long list. One that should probably be shortened. I don’t think I’ve opened O2 priority since downloading it. Wordscapes—why do I even have that on my phone? Screen time—now that’s useful. I hope my screen time will be down 100% by the end of the week.
As I scrolled through, I came to WhatsApp. I considered how it had helped me through many a night feed as I chatted to other, just as frustrated mums, also up at 3am. I remembered how useful it was to keep in touch with fellow Christians and share prayer requests. Based on this, I decided that WhatsApp notifications were worth permitting during Media Fast. Happy that I had successfully silenced and tethered my phone, I headed to bed, excited and expectant for the coming week.
The following morning I woke up and started the day as I always do—by checking my phone—the main difference this morning being that there were no notifications. Happy that my plan was working, I set about my morning with a bit of Bible study, making breakfast and getting the kids dressed.
I then decided to check my phone. It had been going off, and I could resist the urge to check it no longer! Several WhatsApp notifications had come in, so I took some time to read them, replying to the relevant ones. The thing was, before I knew it, I’d been on my phone that morning as much, if not more than, I usually am. Not the start to the Media Fast I’d hoped for. But, onwards and upwards…
However, as the day went on, it felt more like backwards and downwards. WhatsApp kept pinging, and I remained on my phone as much as usual. I had simply replaced my Facebook and Pinterest obsession with WhatsApp. Facebook and Pinterest had been the challenge for me to stay away from in previous Media Fasts, but this year I found that I wasn’t missing them at all. My desires had slightly evolved, and I found that I had another addiction: my need for a constant connection to my friends. Not that there's anything wrong with staying connected, but heaven forbid I should miss out on a group chat!
This got me thinking. We are such changeable beings, and we often don’t even realise we are changing. We are simply ebbing and flowing with the latest trends. This thought pointed to two things to be thankful to God for:
1. I was thankful for the mirror that the Media Fast had held up to me to make me aware of something I otherwise would have been unaware of, and more importantly…
2. It made me very thankful for our immutable God—the One whose desires don’t change on a whim, who isn’t swayed by the latest trend.
Hear me when I say that social media has its place, but it can so easily control us without us realising, as I’ve been reminded this week. Much better to hand control to the one who is “Jesus Christ … the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). In him our salvation is sure. As James 1:17 so beautifully puts it:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”.
I thank God that he does not change, and our salvation is therefore sure in the death of Jesus Christ. “It is finished,” he gasped, as he breathed his last (John 19:30).
I don’t know what the latest phone addiction will have evolved into next year or the year after, but I do know that our un-evolving, unchanging God is the one we must cling to through the ebbing and flowing of life.