The iPad and our souls

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The iPad and our souls

March 15, 2012 -

The latest iPad goes on sale tomorrow at 8 AM. Preorders were sold out in two hours; if you want to get one online, you’ll have to wait two or three weeks for delivery.

I am still using the first generation iPad and feel more obsolete by the day.  55 million iPads have been sold in the last two years; analysts expect that number to double by the end of this year.   A little Internet research revealed the following: 87% of iPad owners say they use their tablet computer every day; 24% use it more than two hours a day; 69% use it in the bedroom, mostly to watch movies and surf the Web. Here’s your devotional thought for the morning: 20% of men admit they use their iPad in the restroom. We’re told that more than 326 million tablet computers will be sold in the next three years.

Are you still resisting the craze?  Your days may be numbered–industry analysts say desktop computers will become obsolete next year as mobile devices take over the market.  Today mine is more relevant to me than ever before.  You see, I am writing this morning’s essay on my iPad. Not because I am technologically sophisticated–the opposite, in fact. I am in Atlanta today, speaking at the memorial service for a very dear friend. When I left my office yesterday for the airport, I was in such a hurry that I left my laptop on my desk. Suddenly I find myself catapulted into the world of mobile computing by force.

This morning I have a new appreciation for my tablet computer. However, I suspect that on balance it has done me as much spiritual harm as good. Do you remember the prediction that technology would make our lives simpler and slower?  We were supposed to have more leisure time as computers did many of our tasks for us. How is that working for you?  I never feel that I have left work when I leave work–email is as close as my iPhone while writing assignments wait on my MacBook. Now I am learning that I can even do the morning essay on my iPad. This is not entirely good news.

It’s tempting to think that we are the first generation to face such obstacles to spiritual rest and health, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Jesus’ disciples had no iPads to keep them up, but they were as temporally challenged as we are. Fishermen could work at all hours–remember the time when Jesus told Peter to let down his nets for a catch, to which the Galilean replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything” (Luke 5:5). If they weren’t fishing, they were mending their nets (Matthew 4:21). Peter and his business partners exported dried fish all over Israel–they could always be out seeing clients or making sales calls. They had no salaries and no unemployment benefits–if they didn’t work they didn’t eat.

When these men joined Jesus’ movement, things did not slow down for them. Mark reports one particularly busy season of ministry, when “so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat.” What was Jesus’ prescription for them?  “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). They needed time for solitude, rest and communion with their Lord.  So do we.

So did Jesus. The feeding of the 5,000 immediately followed these instructions to his disciples. After caring for the people, “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray” (vs. 45-46). His example is recorded in Scripture as God’s invitation to us.

This week is Spring Break for most of us in Dallas. I don’t remember having this holiday when I was in school, but I’m glad someone invented it. Just as students need time away from class, souls need time away from the hectic chaos of our days. Whether you buy a new iPad tomorrow or not, if you’re like me you need a break from technology this week. Time to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Time to rest, to reflect, to listen to your Father’s voice in your spirit and find his fingerprints in his creation   Time to be alone with Jesus.

When is your next appointment with him?

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