My iPhone started acting like me a couple of months ago. It's not the latest version but it is relatively new and is certainly technologically advanced. What is more, it wasn't just mirroring my actions. No, it must have been in some new exponential instruction mode. My iPhone was mimicking me to confront me with some truth. I mean, it's not called a smart phone for nothing. It made me wonder if these tech devices do in fact have the intuitive systems their manufacturers advertise. Nevertheless, suddenly it was very slow responding, long seconds off it's normal instant pace. Even more, the energy source, the almost new battery, was being depleted in just hours. Like me, it needed periodic recharges to function with the precision required in exponential times. So, I took it to the experts at Verizon. The technician punched in some numbers, deciphered some output data, and told me the problem in a matter of minutes. He said he had never seen a iPhone with so many apps downloaded into it's operating system. He added that most of the free apps on my device were always running. That's why it was so slow, and why the battery always needed charging. His advise? Delete some of the apps that were threatening the device. You know, simplify.
So, I started deleting apps. At first it was apps that I hadn't used at all. Then, on a roll, I deleted apps I hadn't used in a month, then a week. Overnight that smart phone regained it's operating efficiency. And, the battery lasted all day. The lesson it taught me was that I really needed to simplify some things if I was going to crash proof my exponential life.
Go ahead, laugh. Exponential times? That's just culture jargon about the pace and motion
of life these days. But, it is the real deal for most humans living in the mean streets of the
twenty-first century. If you're doubting the velocity and mobility of life right now take
five minutes and watch this video clip. You can access it by clicking here. Two notes: it's
the same video I referenced Monday, and there is a short advertisement at the beginning.
Smile and nod through the ad and watch the video again.
Of course, my iPhone is smart and intuitive. But, those seventy something apps didn't get there by themselves. Yes siree, I downloaded (or is it uploaded?) every single one of them. They are testimony about what is often a clogged, overloaded life. Something about these rose-colored glasses makes saying "no" one of my more difficult language deficiencies. Sure, the slowness and energy things can be attributed to age to some degree. But, more, they are symptomatic of having too much on my plate. Like my iPhone, there needed to be some intentional simplification to keep the synapses in my head firing on point. And, from what I hear in the scuttlebutt everyday, I'm not alone in this overcharged condition. Many of us, if not most of us, could simplify if permitted even a moment of honest talk with the person in the mirror.
Two things seem to hold the control buttons in this regard. One, culture frowns on us if we're not busy and overloaded. They are marks of success in this exponential world, being busy all the time, and having too much to do. The shake of the head, perhaps a sigh or moan, are the accepted response to a simple question like, "How are things for you?". Like it or not, there's some element of people pleasing in our overworked facade. And, you know the deal about people pleasing.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I
were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10, ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Colossians 3:23, ESV
Like usual, there are many more Scriptures about the egocentric distraction of playing to the wrong audience in life. Simplifying will often put us at odds with the worlds expectations. But, it may be the only way to crash proof these exponential times.
The second control button is that our personal schedules, calendars, and agendas often conflict with more significant personal commitments. Family, faith development and devotional life, relationships, ministry, service, and witness are often relegated to our waiting rooms while the immediate to-do lists are embraced instead. This means that seeking the things of the Kingdom first (see Matthew 6:33) claims much less of our time and energy. Simplifying life could result in a more Kingdom first experience, which promises that all the other things will be added as well.
Reading the Apostle Paul gives me impetus in simplifying my life. Let me borrow a sentence from his letter to the Philippians and use it out of context. He wrote---
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do...
Philippians 3:13, ESV
Paul acknowledged that he was struggling with life issues and had not actually mastered it all. But, he didn't give the Philippians an itemized list for simplifying life or an enumerated ranking of things necessary to correct their problems. He said, "But one thing I do...". Note, one thing. One simple action. I repeat, one. Simply one.
And, that's a second way to crash proof an exponential life. One, yesterday, keep the systems updated. Two, simplify.
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