Several years ago, I discovered a wonderful thing. I could download the Bible to my iPhone and iPad, and not only full of copies of Scripture but multiple translations and concordances and commentaries and more studies and helps and devotions than I could read in two lifetimes. All of this would always be right at my fingertips, plus the almost daily pop ups of the latest things being offered to help me get into the Word. Add to that, much of it was free just for the downloading, so I did. I was set to spend time reading God’s Word and discovering new thoughts at morning, noon, or night. From any spot on the globe, regardless of what was going on or where I was — a trip or a ballgame or eating a meal or a wedding or a funeral or getting my car serviced — I had my Bible study tools at the end of my arm.
At times I thought, “What an incredible blessing,” but with the passing of time I have experienced a few things that have caused me to push back from my cyber-Scripture endeavors and return to reflection on the Book of books using what may seem to be old-fashioned and out-of-date methodology. I did so not to be away from the helps I had found but to get back in touch with the Word from God. Let me explain. I discovered three things about digital Bible study that invariably distracted me and diverted my attention from getting into God’s Word.
The first thing was the CLUTTER as I began to read or study. Before I could get to the Word, I had to wade through the latest weather reports, the newest tragedies somewhere in the world, missed calls, and voicemail messages. That was along with the newest app available for better Bible study or some weight loss program or exercise and fitness help and text messages and emails and fundraisers and political ads and bank and credit card offers and on and on and on. Fact is, there are millions of apps and offers just waiting for the opportunity to be seen and wanting to get your attention. Stop. I laid my phone down and picked up my copy of God’s Word and gently opened it and began to read. No dings or whistles, bells or cartoons, no TV, radio, film, music, news, sports, alarms. Just hearing from God. I realized that I had at times lost my Bible in a digital dumpster, and all that clutter had to go.
The second related problem was what I call the SPUTTER. I began to feel like an old car that wasn’t running well, sputtering and jerking its way down the road as it lurched and stalled and moved tentatively forward with doubt about whether it was going anywhere. In my digital study and devotional time and reading, I came to those kinds of moments again and again and would just sputter in my efforts. How so, you may ask. Well, the constant interruptions would pull my mind and my heart, my emotions and my concerns, away from focusing on the Word of God. I would for just an instant turn my attention to other things — the call that was coming in, the text messages, email notifications, and offers and news alerts and every one of them screaming, “Pay attention to me!” I would pause and wonder, “What does that person need or what is that about?” I’d check it out and then try to get back to where I was in the Word. It is hard to study, think, and meditate in the midst of sputtering and stuttering through the process. I decided the sputtering had to go.
The third thing was the biggest problem. I call it the world of MUTTER. The entire world of cyberstuff created a universe of noise that reminded me of mass muttering. With every email, call, text, post, news flash, viral piece of information, cute video, or dumb headline, the noise was constant and ever growing. By itself, it will consume your life. There are more and more people across the land who cannot function longer than a few minutes, even while interacting with a living person nearby, without grabbing whatever device they utilize to get back into the world of noise they think is so important. There is undoubtedly a lot of good information out there, but it is a world of sound and sight trying to disengage you from wherever else in which you are engaged at the moment. I decided I would not lose my Bible in the river of digital information.
The Bible is not just a source of information in the midst of 10,000 other books. It deserves more respect than that. It is not to be lined up alongside Facebook pages and pictures, posts, news releases from your favorite sports interest, or tweets from celebrities or even the president. The Word of God deserves my attention, my devotion, and my life. God’s Word deserves clear time and attention. It still will guide you and give you a powerful word from heaven because it is not just another book — it is direct connectivity with the living God. I have purposefully picked it up and made it have priority in a place and time in my life every day where I can sit down and ask God to speak to my heart, and I start reading it. Oh, the joy that can be yours and mine, without the clutter and sputter and all the sounds that make up the muttering of life! Listen to God.
Do I still have a Bible app at my fingertips on my phone, iPad, and computer? I do. There are times when I’m in a place and space where I use it because it is so convenient. To prioritize, I keep a copy of the Word of God and some of the information and notes that I make separate from all of the thought processes, needs, and opportunities that fill up my phone and my World Wide Web connections. It may work better for you but for me, just one simple guy who can only focus on one thing at a time, I choose to carve out those moments and have that place, time, and experience alone with God before I am sucked into all the other things of life. Do not allow the Bible, your contact with the living Lord, to be thrown into the digital dumpster.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.