Life seemed very simple when I was growing up. We mostly minded our own affairs. There were no telephone answering machines or computers. We got our information from the then unbiased news networks-ABC, CBS, and NBC-but only at 5pm and 11pm. If something really serious happened like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon for the very first time, someone important being assassinated, earthquakes or some devastating natural disaster, an important event here or abroad or some other history making news, the news media would interrupt regularly scheduled programs like I Love Lucy, Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Emergency or whatever else was on to bring a short, 10-15 minute update once an hour and then “resume with our regularly scheduled program already in progress.” A lot of what went on in the world we did not know and somehow we managed to survive-and quite well for that matter.
With the introduction of cable tv, we now know what is going on in every pocket and hidden space in the world, 24 hours a day. We know when someone in Hollywood burps or farts because let’s face it, we NEED to know everything the most messed up people in the world are doing. In some ways, cable tv has expanded our lives in a good way. We can see and somewhat experience God’s creation that we might not otherwise get to see. We can know when terrible things are happening to good people, which gives opportunity to pray more-even though it also means that we experience the horror of it as well.
It’s caused me to think about knowing more and knowing less. When we constantly watch the news, we become fearful and depressed because frankly they never share the good things that are going on in the world. Filling our heads with mindless trivia, the dysfunctional antics of famous people, and watching “entertaining” shows means that we are constantly taking in information. Then there’s all the titillating “news” on the internet, half of which isn’t even true.What we don’t have time to do is really sit and process what we take in so we just keep taking it in and taking it in until our minds are awhirl with thoughts, fears, and questions. It can rob of sleep, time, meaningful conversation and the things in life that really matter.
There is something to be said to keeping up with what’s going on in the world. For instance, when a marauding group of Muslims are sweeping through the Middle East killing innocent men and boys, raping women, selling their daughters into sexual slavery, and beheading babies, that’s something we need to know. Those people need prayer! I know what it is to be in a dire situation, albeit I’ve never been in a situation that bad, but I know what it is to be in crisis and desperately need prayer. These kinds of things, as terrible as they are, are necessary to know. When we shield ourselves from the plight of mankind in remote or far away places and retreat into the eutopic lives we can so easily make for ourselves in America we become self-focused and small. There’s nothing smaller than a person whose prayers are always centered their own little world even if that world is family, children and friends. A world minded person is much happier, thankful, and content because they appreciate more all that they have. It helps us keep our lives simple because we see how much we have compared to the rest of the world and we don’t really see the need to get more. It really does matter what we focus on.
Over the last year, I have really limited myself as to how much tv I watch and how much of the news media I expose myself to. I try to keep up with the major news stories and avoid all the news that is just a distraction. I spend way less time on the computer, except for my writing job which requires I be on line, and I am giving more time to doing and spending time with others engaged in meaningful conversation.
We are no longer exempt from the evils of the world. What we haven’t already created for ourselves is now reaching our shores. We are no longer immune to the threats that the rest of world has sometimes grown accustomed to. Therefore, I feel a continuing and increasing call to prayer for those both home and abroad. I truly believe that time, as we know it, is quickly coming to a screeching halt and the return of the Lord is growing near. There are many who need to be saved before this happens, a few of which are my own blood relations. So I have made some adjustments to my world, expanding it in some areas and shrinking it in others.
The Apostle Paul was a world traveler. He knew what was going on in the world. Yet he determined in his heart that there was really only one thing worth knowing-Christ! He told the Corinthians that he “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” I have come to the conclusion that when what we know best is Christ, we will know what to do with the rest of the stuff we know, be it good or bad. I may know less about what goes on in my world, but I will certainly know what to do with what I know of my world.
So today I am thankful for focus. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit guides my focus. I’m thankful that the main thing I have to focus on is good and true and perfect and lovely and powerful and able to do ANYTHING! Even with all that is wrong in the world, He is always right! And focusing on Him sets my sights on something bigger than this world. This world is dying a slow death. Creation even groans under the strain of it. But I will live beyond this world. In fact, my life really begins when I leave this world and knowing this makes living in this difficult world just a little easier.