When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I want to do is get on my computer and see what’s happening. When I go to bed at night, the last thing I do is to look at my iPad and check my Facebook, email, and Google reader. Throughout the day, I am tied to my computer and my computer runs my life. At least, that’s how it’s been. But for the next six weeks, my computer will have to wait, because I’m giving it up for Lent.
That’s right, you heard me. Laugh if you will. Scoff if you must. But it’s true. And with good reason.
Many Christians choose to give something up during the season of Lent. Some people try to find their way out of a particular vice. Others give up something they really like, eating meat or candy, for instance. There are many ways of structuring the Lenten fast, but the purpose of the fast is to recognize the things in our lives that have too much of a hold on us, the things that are getting in between us and God. That can sometimes be things that are inherently bad, but it can just as easily be something good.
The computer is a wonderful tool. It allows me to do things easier and faster than I could ever have dreamed of doing them before. It gives me some significant advantages in my ministry. I can look at multiple biblical passages at one time. I can read the libraries of the early Church Fathers. I can listen to sermons by other clergy, whereas in the past I’d have been stuck listening to the sound of my own voice for fifty years. Yet, despite all of these good uses, it is easy to become addicted to the computer, to think of it less as a tool than as a way of life. The computer has become too central to my life, so central that it threatens to overshadow the only thing that deserves to be at the center of my life, Jesus Christ. So this Lent, I’m unplugging.
It isn’t as radical as it sounds. I’ll still use Netflix on my television. And once a week, on Sundays, I intend to answer my email and work on those things that I am simply unable to do without the aid of the computer. Nevertheless, it will be a huge adjustment for me to spend so much of my days without the constant interconnectivity that the computer provides. My hope is that by taking this time away from the computer, I’ll be able to come back to it in Easter in a healthier way, to use it again as a tool instead of allowing the tool to use me.
Generally, it is not good to boast of what one chooses to give up for Lent, and I make no boast here either. I relay this information simply so that you all know what I’m doing and why it is that I might take a little longer than normal to email you back. I hope all of you have a blessed Lent and that the Lord may speak His mercy, forgiveness, and love to you in the days and weeks ahead.