Day 97 – Thorns

Daily Readings: Joshua 19-20, Mark 4, Psalm 64

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 

Mark 4:1-8, 13-19

9:30 PM: Check the current scores of a couple of games, respond to a text, check email one last time, click over to Facebook for two minutes, then Twitter, then back to ESPN. Put phone in airplane mode for the night.

4:30 AM: Out of airplane mode, check emails while getting a big glass of water. I would rather make sure nothing needs to be taken care of this morning before starting my God time that way I can maximize my time with God and with my kids once they wake up. I want to leave as late as possible for work knowing that there are no misc. things that need to be taken care of before my first concrete appointment. (Solid rationalization) Check final scores while here. Then Facebook briefly to see if there are any notifications…scroll down for 10 seconds while there before being mad at myself and stopping.

4:45 AM: Settle in for prayer, worship, and time in the word until 6:00 AM.

“Lord quiet my mind, help me focus on you…”

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain…

“I still need to get that project done today…and when I am going to finish my taxes that I already filed an extension on…and I really need to have that conversation with a coworker I have been putting off…”

“Lord quiet my mind, I want this time to be yours. Thank you so much for the incredible blessings you have put into my life that are so undeserved. Help me to be a light today…”

“I can’t believe my friend posted that on Facebook. Don’t they fact check anything? That is what is wrong with the world today…Lord help your world heal…Lord, quiet my mind. I want to be able to just enjoy your presence without feeling pulled in so many directions. Maybe I should write a post about that…”

Prayer…to do list…prayer…think about post…prayer…to do list…prayer…

“At some point I really need to fire off a few emails this morning before the day gets going. It is going to be a pretty full day. I have no idea when I am going to be able to call that person back…Lord quiet my mind.”

“I need to spend some time in worship.”

Pull out phone to cue up favorite worship music. Refresh email.

“Why the heck did I do that? It is 5:10 AM. There aren’t any new emails. I hate myself sometimes. I need to stop being such a slave to this thing.”

Attempt to worship along with playlist.

“God you are so good. Thank you for loving me and being patient even when I am being so silly. Your grace and love sustain me!”

To do list…worship…to do list…worship…to do list…worship…

Grab phone to do daily readings. Quick check of Twitter for 20-30 seconds to see reactions about the playoff game last night. Back to Bible Gateway app to start reading. Annoyed with myself…why did I do that?

“Lord, show me what you have for me today.”

Attempt to focus on reading the Bible and really taking in God’s word…

Thorn, thorn, thorn, thorn, thorn…

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain…

I imagine some of you can relate.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we cripple our own ability to be present whether with God, our family, or our friends? Why do we train our brains to desire anything other than what we are doing at the moment?

We live in a society where people don’t even allow themselves to relax and enjoy watching a basketball game, television show, etc. We need a second screen in front of us seeing what other people are saying about that shared social experience. We need a distraction from our distraction…wait, what?

The Lord said, “Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

And yet even when I carve out that beautiful time to be still, even when I wake up early, go with less sleep, and really strive to prioritize time to God, I frequently self sabotage for 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there. It is not the sum total of 5-10 minutes out of the first hour and a half of my day that I choose to spend on petty distractions that robs me of truly enjoying my time with God; it is the mental clutter I bring upon myself.

We fill our brains with an overwhelming amount of stimulus and then wonder why our minds feel full and why we feel overwhelmed. We spend the last 2 minutes before bed flipping between 6 apps, 4 websites, and 2 more apps, and wonder why we can’t seem to turn our brains off and fall to sleep well.

Thorn, thorn, thorn, thorn, thorn.

Some days, I am great about not doing this. Some evenings, I am as well. However, there are so many when I self sabotage and hate myself for it.

I want a change. I want to declutter mentally. I want to be fully present. At home, at work, with friends, and with God. I want to be where I am.

In life you always have to want better for yourself badly enough that it is worth the pain of change. That is why breaking any addiction is so hard.

I hate my cell phone. I am ready for a change. I wonder if anyone reading this is ready for a change as well?

30 day challenge.

  1. When you get home from work, put your phone on the charger in your room and just be present at home. Don’t check it every few minutes. There is nothing that can’t wait for at least an hour or two without the world burning down around us. Human beings used to survive somehow without cell phones.
  2. When you are at work, put it out of arms reach. Get that thing out of your pocket! If it rings, you can answer it, but put it far enough away that you don’t accidentally grab it as an OCD tendency to check something that does not need to be checked. Only pick it up when there is a specific productive purpose.
  3. Leave it on the charger throughout your entire morning routine. Use a different source for music. Read an actual physical Bible. Don’t come out of airplane mode until a preset time where you are actually going to begin work.
  4. Put it into airplane mode an hour before bed and don’t touch it from that point forward.

For 30 days.

I am ready to be good soil again, every day, not just some days. I am ready to ruthlessly weed out the thorns in my life and help my brain slow down so that I am able to appreciate the little things in life that go unnoticed frequently because of my addiction to technology.

Who is coming with me?

Thought to ponder

If it is not technology, what is my thorn? What in my life sometimes rises up and chokes the plant trying to grow when the seed falls on the soil? How can I remove those thorns from my life?

2 thoughts on “Day 97 – Thorns

Add yours

  1. I love this, Aaron. One of the best things I have done recently is develop strong morning and evening routines. I don’t check email until a few hours after I have finished the routine in the morning. It certainly preserves a magical state in the morning. Great insights my man!

    Like

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