Last week I had a dream. I was in a giant field of grapevines during sunset. Green grapes the size of small tomatoes hung there. The sun silhouetted the leaves and shone through the grapes like they were translucent balloons. The wind blew everything in slow motion - it was all so picturesque. And there I was, in the middle of it all, watching the whole thing through my iPhone screen. I never looked up. Never took it in. I just snapped pic after pic, excited that I had capitalized on such an "Instagram-able" moment. As the dream ended I remember thinking, "I never saw it with my own eyes." It made me sad.
That wasn't the only dream that week. The night before I dreamed my television started to speak, mocking me and boasting that it had me under it's control. There are even more but I'll spare you.
It doesn't take the Prophet Daniel to crack the code on these puppies. These dreams typify something I've been feeling in my spiritual gut for some time. An unsettledness about how I'm handling my cyber-life. And so, I'm unplugging this summer. I don't know exactly for how long or to what degree but it's happening, and I want to tell you why.
1. It has cooled my affections for Christ.
There is a quote that has haunted me since I read it a few years ago:
“If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” -John Piper, A Hunger For God
It's scary to me because it's true. Things, good things, can often be the means of our undoing if we linger over them longer than God. Let me be clear: Things haven't been terrible between me and God. But there has been a slow fade over the past months toward 'dull'. And having tasted both, I think I prefer terrible to dull. At least with terrible I can feel something. Dull is the spiritual equivalent of leprosy: numbing, eroding, putrid.
I want a mind that wanders to Christ. And a mind on a screen cannot drift toward it's King. Maybe I'll use that in a song one day. ; )
2. It has distracted from my main missions.
This leads me to my next reason. I feel so distracted. As a Christian. As a husband and dad. As a songwriter. I'm tired of calling distractedness "writer's block". Maybe we artistic types feel so stifled in our creativity because we leave no mental space with which to create. And I don't like that my wife and daughters have to work so hard to get my attention because my face is glued to my phone. I don't want the acceptable sin of technology addiction to be a legacy I create for my family.
Bottom line here is I want to give both God, my family and you my very best and I'm just not doing that right now.
3. It has made me want something from you, instead of something for you.
"Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice." -A.W. Tozer
A.W. Tozer wrote that in 1948. I guess some things never change.
Just being honest, it's really hard for me to remember that my main job as an artist is to share something with you, not take something from you. For that, I'm sorry. I want to write songs to stir your appetites for God, not to get rich off you. And I want to tweet my favorite verses to encourage you on your lunch break, not to see my "followers" go up and up. I know I'll never have perfect motives in anything, but I do believe my heart could use a motive reboot. A season away will be helpful in that.
What I'm Not Saying
It's important you hear from me that It is not necessarily a sin to be online, use social media, check your email, etc. Technology is morally neutral. It is our hearts that are the issue. In the words of my friend Ben Stuart, "legalism says 'No one can check their social media.' Wisdom says 'I can't check my social media.'"
What to Expect from E-Me
I am recording 2 new records this summer. It's a lot of work as you can imagine. I suspect that much of the early parts of summer I will be absentee on social sites. Yes, you will still see posts from me, but they will likely not be in real time. I will write them in advance, as has occasionally been my practice anyway. The real difference will be that I will defer checking my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to my team. This way my heart and mind can stay out of the whole matter. If there are pressing things that need responses, they have full authority to speak on my behalf. At some point I'll let you know when I'll return...just not sure when exactly that will be.
I love you guys and love sharing my music with you all. I love painting the beauty of the gospel in fresh ways for you. I love that for almost a decade I've gotten to challenge, encourage and entertain you with my art. I love what I do and I want to do it even better. I want to see many more years and many more songs to come. Pray for me if you will. That I can be the husband, father, artist and Christian that the Lord is calling me to be, only by His grace. And pray for yourself to, that God would expose in your heart any and everything that is robbing you of a full life in Christ. "Anything I put before my God is an idol."