Wendy Speake is a passionate Bible teacher with a hunger for Jesus like no other. With a gift for storytelling and biblical life application, she’s led thousands in feasting on God’s Word through her annual online sugar fasts. But Wendy knows that we aren’t only affected by what we take in through our mouths, but also by where we focus our eyes and our hearts. It’s a grace to welcome Wendy back to the farm’s front porch today…
I was inside at the dining room table, writing out a grocery list, as my sons played in the pool in our backyard.
The sound of their laughter wafted in through open windows. It was an unseasonably warm spring day—mid-March and already ninety degrees. Summer, it seemed, had come early to Southern California.
“Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” the boys called as they scrambled out of the water. I looked up to see what was causing the commotion and couldn’t believe my eyes.
Thousands of butterflies fluttered around the boys. Everywhere, as far as my eyes could see, butterflies swarmed and swirled in all directions. Immediately I stood and ran toward my room. My first thought was to grab my phone. I needed to start a Facebook Live at once!
Halfway down the hall, I remembered I had just begun a forty-day social media fast during Lent. In addition to staying off of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, I had decided to keep my phone in my room so that I would be present and available to my family.
But what was happening outside was amazing. I’d never seen anything like it in all my life.
I had a choice: share the spectacle with my online friends or soak it up with my family.
Making the decision to forsake my phone, I turned toward the sound of my children’s laughter. As I walked out to the patio, the fluttering of butterfly wings brushed my skin. The slippery cool touch of my youngest son’s arms around my middle made it hard to breathe, or maybe it was the miracle of the moment. I caught my breath, overwhelmed.
“There is a God!” I cried out to the boys.
“Good job, God!” my oldest shouted out loud.
We locked eyes then and smiled. He’d remembered how I taught him to define praise when he was just a toddler. “Praise is telling someone what a good job they did. It’s the same with giving God praise. When you see something beautiful like a sunset or a newborn baby, simply tell Him, ‘Good job, God!’”
“Good job, God!” we shouted together.
All three wet-from-the-pool boys were counting aloud, “178, 179, 180, 181, 182 . . .” I joined them in the counting, and we got to well over one thousand before the mass migration moved on.
For the next few weeks, however, we saw at least twenty butterflies in any direction we looked everywhere we went throughout town. Others had captured the moment on their cameras that day, but I caught the moment in real life—the whole glorious display.
While I love fasting from social media during Lent, I want to learn to live this way on a regular basis.
I want to commit to living eyes up, instead of hunkered down and hidden behind my screen—seeing but not seeing.
Devices are divisive, I’ve found. They divide me and distract me from time with the Lord and the real-life people I most adore. The ones I like distract me from the ones I love. Those I follow online distract me from the only One who said, “Follow Me!”
But here’s the simple truth: when you put down your phone, it’s easier to lift up your eyes.
And when you lift up your eyes, you see not only your family and your friends, your neighbors, and the whole wide world full of people needing your loving attention but also the glorious display of a praiseworthy Creator.
Unfortunately, as soon as a sunset-sky begins declaring God’s glory, I’m posting a picture of it along with the hashtag #psalm19—“The heavens declare the glory of God.” During those sacred moments, with my head bowed over my phone, I miss seeing the setting sun transform the sky from mango to magenta as the Master Craftsman splashes heavenly hues across the canvas of heaven.
Though those first moments sincerely stun me, I am quickly distracted from the celestial service in the sky by an overwhelming urge to post it online. And though I feel joy in sharing the image with my online friends, the truth is that I experienced only a few moments of glory when I could have soaked it up for another seven minutes.
In my attempt to share His glory with others, I often miss out on so much of it. I miss much when I share much.
Years ago, I went on a famous hike in Yosemite National Park known as the Mist Trail. Afraid of damaging my phone, I left it with a friend who stayed behind with the youngest climbers.
As the rest of us ascended the mountain beside the falls, we had to bend over and use our hands to prevent ourselves from slipping. The trail, hewn from massive slabs of granite, was slick with moss. A constant stream of water droplets covered everything. At one point I looked over my shoulder and caught sight of the most vibrant rainbow.
I couldn’t stop myself. I stood right up and lifted my hands in response to God’s glory on display.
The impulse to praise the Lord was too great! Strangers crawled past me on all fours while I stood erect, crying, with hands lifted high.
One of the men in our group yelled over the roar of the falls, “Wendy, get down now!”
It was dangerous for me to be standing on the slick, moss-covered slab of rock, but my whole being responded to the glory. It was foolish, but even more foolish is never looking up to see God’s glory on display. Never looking up to the heavens, never hearing the proclamation shouted night and day, day and night . . . that’s a whole other kind of slippery slope.
Are you tired of looking down? I’m wondering if all our looking down is causing us to feel down too.
Colossians 3:1-2 in The Message translation invites us, “Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is.”
With Lent only one week away, let me invite you to look up!
Consider fasting from social media in an effort to get social with the Lord and the real-life, flesh-and-blood people all around you.
Exchange your online distractions for real-life devotion this Lenten season.
Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt Bible teacher who ministers to hearts through storytelling and biblical life application. During her career in Hollywood, Wendy found herself longing to tell stories that edify, encourage, and point audiences to Jesus Christ. Today she does just that, writing books, speaking to groups across the nation, and leading multiple online fasts and Bible studies each year. Wendy hosts her annual online Sugar Fast every January and then leads her Jesus-hungry friends into a 40-Day Social Media Fast during Lent.
The question Wendy dares you to consider is: Would you be willing to disconnect from the world (and the world wide web) in order to connect with the One who made the world? So often we run to social media to deal with our loneliness and stress, when Jesus clearly invited us, “Come to Me when you are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Join Wendy for a 40-Day Social Media Fast this Lent (it begins February 17) to help you exchange your online distractions for real-life devotion. Find out more about The 40-Day Social Media Fast and the 40-Day Fast Journal at 40daysocialmediafast.com—or consider doing the 40-Day Sugar Fast if you find yourself turning to a sugar high rather than The Most High during your days.
This “screen sabbatical” in The 40-Day Social Media Fast is designed to help you become fully conscious of your dependence on social media so you can purposefully unplug from screens and plug into real life with the help of a very real God. Take a break from everyone and everything you follow online. Disconnect in order to reconnect with the only One who said “follow me.”
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]