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As a grandmother of six grandchildren ages 12 to 23, I love connecting with them via text, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to try to stay connected in their busy lives. We live hundreds of miles apart and this is no substitute for phone calls and visits, but it gives me brief glimpses into moments in their daily lives.
I am sometimes kidded by them as well as my “senior” peers for being a techie grandma. (Of course, I smile at that.) There is really so much I don’t know about tech things, but I have jumped in with the help of children, grandchildren, and You Tube to learn some basics.
When I was their age my grandparents were all dead, but I had one great aunt who had moved from Ohio to Florida and she and I exchanged letters faithfully until her death. I loved writing to her and looking in the mailbox for her responses. (I still love writing notes and letters and am blessed to have one grandchild who seems to enjoy it as well.)
Somehow the handwritten letters gave me more of a sense of her. Not only did she take time to speak in full sentences and paragraphs, but her handwriting also allowed me to know her in a special way. (Have we forgotten that the Bible is like that?)
I think we have all increasingly been adapting to a “sound bite world”. When we can’t handle listening or watching a full newscast, we get the sound bites, the headlines. When we don’t have time for lunch or coffee with a friend, send a text or Instagram pic.
That same style can creep into other parts of our lives as well. In the busyness of daily life and distraction, it can be easier to skim a brief devotional in the morning than to sit with a Bible in hand carefully reading and reflecting on what is written.
I get that!
We all can have seasons like that when the ages of our children or our parents, the demands of our jobs or ministries keep us moving from the moment our feet hit the ground until we collapse into bed at night.
I really do get that! I sadly led that kind of life during several seasons. One occurred while I was teaching full-time and going to graduate school part-time while trying to manage being a wife and mom. Another occurred when I was involved in working as a professional clinical counselor with enough church life ministries attached to comprise a second full-time job.
During the latter one I had not even taken time to clearly see what was happening for a while. At recent calling hours for a deceased friend, I saw someone who knew me during that season. She commented on how good I looked using words like “refreshed” and “brighter/lighter”. I laughed and commented that I was no longer working 24/7. She responded with a smile but with a serious tone and said, “You mean 36/7.”
I know many (perhaps most) of us deal with this. Then we get bogged down with the guilt that comes with the “ought’s” and “should’s”. I know about those too! I am not here to add to those, but rather gently remind all of us what happens to our spiritual lives when they are only nourished by sound bites regularly.
No matter how busy we are or what season we are in, there are going to be challenges. Our challenges will often leave us weary, worn, and worried. When those become relentless, then doubt, discouragement, and depression can soon follow. We can feel lost and alone and wonder if God has lost our address. (“Doesn’t He see what I am going through or facing?”)
I know He does and I hope you do as well; but when we are trying to keep going with sound bites and have done it for too long, even if we had a strong foundation of faith it can start to erode. If we never had a chance or took the time to build a strong foundation to begin with, we are in even worse shape.
It is time in the Word that speaks truth into the darkness. It is time in the Word that brings me hope. It is time in the Word that renews my faith.
I am not prescribing a formula. I am not one of those who suggest you read a Psalm or Proverb every day, even though that is not a bad thing. There are lots of great suggestions out there, but if we’re honest and we are in one of those sound bite seasons we probably aren’t even getting something like that done. If we try it, we will often be so distracted that we can’t focus well enough to be able to tell anyone what we just read 5 minutes later.
What I know and can say with assurance is throughout my lifetime, it has been the seasons where I could read longer passages and reflect more deeply that the foundation of my relationship with the Lord was built. When I was able to do that, I was building the foundation that got me through all those other times. Those longer times in my favorite chair with Him allowed me to know Him more fully. It wasn’t about a particular verse as much as it was knowing on an intimate level who He was.
If I only read in snatches or pieces and parts of the Bible, I can be like the blind man and the elephant. You know the story. Touching one part of the elephant gave him only one sample of the elephant and as a result he totally misperceived the truth and reality of the elephant. It can be like that with the Lord as well. If I only read about His grace and mercy, I miss His holiness and justice. If I only read about joy, I miss His sorrow and longing.
I also know that even on the busiest of days (even in the busiest of seasons) when I did not neglect to spend more than sound bites with Him, He never failed me. I discovered at the end of those days that I had been more productive and accomplished more than I would have dreamed possible.
Be careful to avoid “sound bite malnutrition” in your walk with the Lord. He has so much more for you…a bountiful table with everything you need for health and life and strength.
I like to remind myself that during the night while I was sleeping, He was not. He was watching, maybe like I sometimes took joy in watching our son or daughter sleeping when they were young children. He is also looking forward to me opening my eyes in the morning and starting the day with me. He has things He wants me to see and know and sometimes I like to think He just enjoys hanging out with me (maybe like He did with Mary, Martha, Lazarus and His other friends).