A couple of days ago I blogged about our recent family vacation in which the four of us went completely “dark”—we exchanged the television, the radio, and the Internet for some serious peace and quiet. Even if we had wanted to use our cell phone, there wasn’t any coverage. All of the electrical umbilical cords tethering us to the frazzled pace of life had been cut.
This was by design. Jean and I planned the trip to have no contact with the outside world which, for five glorious days, allowed our family to pull inward. Considering how remotely tucked away we were in a corner of Mueller State Park, it felt as if we were the last four people on the planet. (My assistant was the only person who knew our campsite location in the event of an emergency).
I’ll admit it was initially a bit unsettling for me to be so disconnected. The first 24 hours were the hardest as a hundred “what if” scenarios ran through my mind. But as I detoxed from the business and busyness of life, I was able to release, relax, and recreate in ways I hadn’t experienced in years. If you’ve never done something like this with your family, I highly recommend giving solitude a try—whether for a week or a weekend.
Why am I so big on this?
Aside from the delightful time making deeper connections with my wife and boys, two primary reasons come to mind. First, withdrawing from the noise of life allowed me to think more clearly; to make mental connections between my past and the present, with an eye on the future. You see, as a follower of Christ, I believe the life events I experience are not random happenings to enjoy or to endure. Behind the scenes God is at work shaping my story, page by page. Taking a personal inventory of where I’ve been, what He’s taught me so far, and where He might be leading me, is more easily accomplished when I’m undistracted.
Secondly, without the demands on my time from the office, without the ever-present entertainment eye-candy promising the equivalence of an electronic sugar high, or even the valuable activities which I might typically give myself and my time to, I discovered I could more easily hear God’s still small voice. In other words, when I’m silent, I’m a better listener because silence and listening goes hand-in-hand.
Someone once told me that an anagram of LISTEN is SILENT. Like two sides of the same coin, these actions are inseparable. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always spend enough time truly listening to what Jesus has to say. Not to make excuses, but the insane pace of life has a way of shanghaiing my best intentions to linger in His presence. Which is why, like a much needed wheel alignment, I can attest that unplugging does wonders for the soul. It’s the best way I’ve found to give God my undivided attention.
If getting away for a few days as we did isn’t possible, how about this for an idea. Why not commit to a three-day “media fast”? While you’re at it, invite your spouse or children to join in. Individually or together, consider disengaging from all sources of media: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, text messaging, TV—even music or talk radio in the car. Maybe restrict cell phone usage to emergencies only. You don’t have to leave town to benefit from the act of getting in touch with your heart, your thoughts, and the voice of God.
I know He’ll meet you in that place of stillness. He did for me.