Ruby, our beloved Golden Retriever was rejected by the seeing eye dog program. Chosen originally because of her high intelligence, she failed because she wanted to cuddle and get the praise of people instead of doing her job. Consequently, she was an ideal family pet – smart and cuddly. But because of her training, she did demonstrate great restraint as she matured. You could put a treat on her nose and she’d sit for a long time balancing it until you finally gave her the command to “finish!”

Then it was devoured in a flash. 

Restraint is learned as we mature and see the greater rewards it brings. But in today’s digital age, it’s a discipline that’s becoming scarce.

In our culture of getting what we want as fast as we want it, we’re losing our ability to wait for a bigger payoff. We’re opting for quick happiness instead of long-term joy that will ultimately bring contentment. We fear we’ll miss out or lag behind everyone else so we grab everything thrown at us. In our “It’s all about me” world we’ve become so overwhelmed that we often respond like untrained animals with our rapid-fire online, social media, and texting trigger finger. We fail terribly at weighing the consequences. Decisions are based on our busy over-committed schedules or we get distracted by the flood of media causing us to become shallow group thinkers rather than individual thought leaders.

With so much on our spinning plates, our spiritual lives are dying as we live in the noise rather than the silence of God. Silence in our culture today is for losers.  So, God waits. And then the uncertainties of life and natural disasters rear their ugly heads breaking through the noise with screams of pain and suffering. Only then do we stop to realize that we’ve become bloated with unimportant media junk and insignificant activities that have robbed us of meaning and peace.

Is there hope? 

To quiet the raging turmoil we have to be willing to restrain ourselves from the consuming noise including that drug called a smartphone. We have to choose to restrain ourselves for the greater reward and not just dog bones. The primary requirement is engagement with God in Bible reading and not just a one-way prayer of our needs list. It’s called quiet time.

Research has proven that when it’s done four or more times a week it changes everything. Our propensity for substance abuse drops along with issues like anger, lying, family neglect, depression, bitterness, pornography – even obesity all dramatically change. It’s why I wrote my devotional Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, and based it on engaging with God four times weekly.

So as you begin this New Year, don’t start with a list of goals, start with your Bible.  Put time with God at the top of your schedule. Will it require you feeling awkward and stared at by others like a dog waiting with a bone on his nose? Perhaps. But if you’re willing to get serious about making 2018 different from every other year, schedule Jesus time.

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” 

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)