Do you use the YouVersion Bible app? On occasion, during my time in Bible Study, I’ll run across a scripture I just have to have! So, I get on the YouVersion Bible App, highlight the scripture, and create a little image so I can remember it. Like with many social media channels, the YouVersion App allows you to have “friends” and depending on your settings those “friends” can be alerted when you post a scripture, reference a reading plan, etc. God has put many amazing people in my life and one of those is my mentor-mom Lee Ann. 

I was in prayer and reading the other morning, and got really excited over a scripture, posted it, and Lee Ann messaged me to say she had been in prayer and was reading scripture at that time as well. It felt like a spiritual connection, made known through digital technology. 

Digital technology can be great. In the need to be quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology is allowing us to stay connected. We have offered Zoom Classrooms, Zoom prayer time, special one-on-one time, intentional calling, groups texts of encouragement, etc. Our kids are now in online classrooms, and the Vine Wellness is also offering tele-health counseling sessions (even for new patients).

When I was putting together a social media plan for Coker, earlier this year, I read the Social Media trend predictions for 2020. One of the predicted trends was the need for a digital detox. Mental Health professionals are seeing the implications on mental healthiness as a result of digital technology use. There are two ironies here. One, that I, the Communications Director who’s main job is to connect people to the church through technology, am now about to tell you to take some time away from it… and two, that those who take a “digital detox” often still take pictures of what they did while detoxing and post it later using the hashtag #DigitalDetox. The pictures are usually of nature, flowers, the way the dew falls on a spider web (which looks like crystals), or a beautiful view. Isn’t taking pictures of the detox to post later, kind of missing the point of a detox? 

So, what is digital technology? Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store or process data. Technology is designed to help us in life, but it becomes an issue when it controls our lives. I’ve heard people comment that they would never be on social media- yet they are the ones who will interrupt an in-person conversation with a loved one to answer a sales-call or respond to a text message that can wait. Reading the newspaper online, watching television, and playing videos games are all considered digital technology. When these things bring unity and enhance our lives, they can be good- when they bring distraction or division, they can be bad. 

So in this time when we are driving people to be online, connect with us online, talk to us all the time online- I’m going to throw one more thing into the mix- pick a time in your week when you are intentionally not online, not in front of the TV, not reading your news on an IPad, not being on social media, etc. Circle it in your week and call it a #DigitalDetox, or if you want to be biblical, call it your sabbath. 

I do this. I circle 8 hours in my week (not always on the same day) where I do not engage in technology. The phone calls go to voice mail, the text messages wait, the facebook feed waits also, I do not take in any news, I do not watch any shows, I don’t ‘shoot a text to the lawn guy to remind him to come next week,’ I simply do not engage. Ok, Ok, admittedly, I do usually put my phone on airplane mode and I do still take pictures (and I do post them later to show what I did during the detox- what can I say?- old habits die slowly). We go on walks, we go on hikes, we pack a picnic, we jump on the trampoline, we play cards, we read books, we digitally detox. 

I challenge you to do that too. If you are a caregiver you may need to keep your phone on, but slim it down to as little as possibly needed for 4 hours or 8 hours- and just be. Read your Bible, or go on a walk, or just smell your coffee before you take a sip while watching the birds fly by, and just be. 

For the past several weeks Jeremiah 17:7-8 has been on my heart. I believe it to be true for Coker, and have been praying it over Coker and over my family… it says “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit.”

Further in the 17th chapter, Jeremiah shares, “This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.” Jeremiah 17:21-22. 

Our days at home are going to begin to run together (if they have not already) and it will be too easy to move what use to be busyness in commuting and physical activities, to busyness online. So, I encourage you to be intentional, honor the sabbath like God commanded in Jeremiah (and elsewhere in the Bible), and practice a #DigitalDetox (but not on Sundays at 9:30 or 11 AM, because we want to see you online… and not on Wednesday evenings because we want to see you online then too). 

Blessings Friends! Jenn Clauser, Coker Communications Director