And does your heart sink when you look at the screen and there are no new notifications? Mine does! In fact, I regularly have to put my phone in a different room so I am not constantly scrolling through social media feeds. I even sometimes give myself ‘Facebook bans’ at weekends. Why is this the case?
Firstly, I don’t want to miss out. I think we can all relate to this on some level. Many of us have a fear that if we are not always available and checking our phones then an amazing opportunity will slip through our fingers. This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably we feel more acutely the urge to connect with others because we are seeing people in person much less.
Secondly, we have the convenience of our smartphones in our pockets. We know that it might vibrate or ‘ping’ at any moment, alerting us to communication from someone on a wide range of platforms. Have you ever had the huge disappointment of hearing a ‘ping’, rushing to check your phone, then realising it is effectively ‘junk mail’?
Quite apart from my inquisitive nature and the wonders of modern technology, I wonder if there is something deeper going on in my heart. I get down when my phone doesn’t buzz for a while, and I feel a lift when it does, because I want the affirmation of other people. I am reasonably confident that I am not alone in this. We want to know that other people love us and that they are interested enough in us to communicate with us. This is not surprising because we were made made for relationships (Genesis 2:18); for relationships with each other, and ultimately for a relationship with God.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”.
But God is the only one who can give us total and permanent security if we have put our faith in Him. If you put your trust in the Lord Jesus, God won’t find ‘new friends’, ‘not like’ you anymore, or gossip about you. He is the one who can keep you safe and bring you into His kingdom. If my identity is wrapped up in how many WhatsApp messages I get in a day, then I’ve forgotten the most important relationship I have, and that is with my creator God.
So, I am challenging myself not to keep checking my phone, and not to feel down in the dumps or over the moon according to whether my phone vibrates. I am going to ask for God’s help to remember my identity as His child (John 1:12), and remember that my ultimate security and affirmation come from Him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.