God Still Uses a Landline
This picture was taken when my oldest was three, back when I had a newborn and days spent with his grandparents were filled with rocking chairs, potty reminders and time carved out for afternoon nap time snuggles. This particular visit also happened to include an impromptu phone call to God. Boy, those were the days. The days when a sweet dive into the imagination made my boy smile with delight. I am certain that he really believed that God was on the landline that day.
Back then, I heard the older generations warn, “Honey, they grow up so fast, enjoy them while they are young. One day you will miss these days.” Oh, I struggled with those words as I looked at each of my children as infants, toddlers and preschoolers. I honestly enjoyed those times and look back on them with delight and no regrets. I truly feel as though I savored every one of those sweet moments.
While I did savor those moments, I also drifted in and out of being able to hear God’s call on my life. There were times when I felt as though I knew exactly what God was calling me to and times I really had no idea. It was often all I could do to get a shower and drink my coffee while it was still warm! The little people of my world required such a great amount of physical energy that my emotional and spiritual needs were often neglected.
Of course, I “called” God a lot to discuss my questions and concerns and seek guidance on what he was calling me to do. To quote one of my very favorite speakers, Lysa Terkeurst, “You know, I talked about my problems, I journaled about them, I texted about them, I worried about them, I talked some more about them…yes, I sure did pray an awful lot!” Anyone relate?
Our children are watching us, learning from us and seeing what brings us delight and joy. The smile on my son’s face is a reflection of what he sees on my dad’s face, while my dad is connecting with his Creator, even in play. Though simple and light, the connection is real and the memory convicting. It makes me realize that my own practice of praying needs some work if I am going to set an example for my children.
Calling God takes discipline and self control, especially in our screen driven culture that does anything but promote good ole’ fashioned face to face communication. Talking to God is something we cannot do halfway if we really want results. He cannot be known through one line texts that enable us to more quickly get to the next task at hand. Knowing God and His call on our lives takes time, consistent prayer and wise counsel to keep us tapped in and focused.
Thinking about God having a landline helps to consider His way of communicating as different than we have become accustomed to. God does not have call waiting. He does not have bluetooth. He will not put you on hold. God does not use wifi or Google. There is no password to remember when getting to His page. He will not be looking at His email while talking to you and He does not text. He does not have Facebook or Instagram and certainly not Twitter. Don’t even think about looking for Him on Snapchat. No Youtube channel, no chatroom. He is 100% on your landline, a one way line between only you and Him. He is always listening to you without distraction.
Here are some tips that have helped me to get into a good routine of calling God on His landline:
Believe that God wants to hear from you
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11-13.
Pick a time of day that is most amenable to at least 5 minutes of quiet
I love what Dr. Kathy Koch, author of Screens and Teens, says about what I think is the most potentially damaging piece of how screens could impact our children’s relationship with God. “There is abundant research that reveals when we are quiet and really thinking about nothing, important thoughts often rise to the surface. If kids are always trying to fill every waking moment with something, they may not every get comfortable with their own thoughts. They might not be able to handle loneliness and being alone, which are not the same. They may have a hard time hearing the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit if they are constantly being entertained.”
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. The verses that precede this often quoted scripture, call the reader to acknowledge God’s protection and sovereignty in the battles of life. In biblical times, the battles most often referred to were wars among people. The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning “to slacken, let down, or cease.” In battle, this would look like two people engaged in a fight dropping their weapons and “stopping frantic activity, letting down, and being still”.
Behind every screen we open, there is a battle on the other side specifically designed to pull us in, keep us engaged and entice us to believe that just being still will certainly cause us to lose! We are in a battle every day over the control of our minds. It takes a tremendous amount of self discipline to drop the remotes, the smartphones, the game controllers and focus on the person in front of us. It is really quite the same when we consider praying to God.
Start with an acronym to guide you (I recommend ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication)
Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook innocently to look at pictures of friends’ babies and puppies only to suddenly find yourself on some merchant’s site considering buying a new pair of shoes? Advertising and marketing strategies have kept up with our fast paced technology, making focusing on anything more than a few minutes nearly impossible. Having a plan helps you stay focused.
Adoration – Starting our prayers in a way that proclaims who God is allows us to enter into his presence like grateful children, setting our minds on His bigness, His strength and His sovereignty. It also starts our prayers off in a worshipful state.
Confession – Being honest with God about our sins is important to set our hearts right in a place of humility and openness to changing the way God calls us to be changed through our prayers.
Thanksgiving – God has given us so very much. Taking the time to tell him we are grateful and practicing recalling those things we have been blessed with can really change our thought patterns for the better.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)
Supplication – This is the place to ask God for what you need. I have found that beginning with the first three components of prayer often changes what I ask for and how I ask for it. God wants to hear our deepest heart’s desires and this is the place to release our cares to Him.
Choose an accountability partner
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.
Though quoted most often in reference to a husband and wife relationship during wedding ceremonies, these verses refer more to general companionship. Having a companion in life, or an accountability partner, helps us to keep commitments and stay focused. Choose a person whom you consider to be a “wise counsel” who displays the fruit of the spirit in their own life and is someone who will offer you encouragement, truth and biblical advice.
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
The pull for our attention is more powerful than ever before with the constant infusion of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, flowing out of on every screen like rich and deeply satisfying honey. Dopamine carries a signal of pleasure to the brain, that when bridled allows for a reward of happy feelings after any given pleasurable behavior. However, when constantly flooded with that chemical, our brains become numb, making the quest for gratification more and more difficult to achieve. Much like an addictive drug, it takes more and more input to achieve pleasure.
There is, however, a way to combat this phenomenon. God is more powerful than any screen, neurotransmitter or earthly pleasure. Knowing God and His power allows us to experience joy of the lasting kind on a daily basis. Consistent, devoted and focused prayer set the example to our children that there is still one landline worth preserving, the landline straight to God through prayer.