I wrote the song Here because of my cell phone.
Strange, I know. Here’s how it happened:
I have a pretty casual morning routine. Making coffee, tidying up. These are rituals which prepare me to think, read scripture, pray and write.
I sit down in my beloved chair, Bible and coffee within reach, the morning light beginning to stream through the windows, creation awakening, my mind a blank slate for the Spirit to direct, so I can open up…
Calendar, Weather, Map location…
The morning spent, the moment lost. The coffee was now empty and of course, I needed to be somewhere. Oops!
I rush to get ready and speed out the door to wherever. You can almost imagine God sitting in the room like, “I thought we were going to spend time together?” much to His disappointment.
It wasn’t always like this. At some point, I had justified this sort of behavior – using my phone as a first step in the morning to wake up, instead of immediately going to God in prayer or scripture – whatever prompted that change is history now.
I’m always searching for distraction
By desire I’m consumed
I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in this struggle- how to best use technology. The majority of us probably think we’re the ones consuming – using these apps to make our lives better and more efficient. Instead, it works the other way around. Our desires are used against us. We’re the ones being consumed.
These desires are sometimes difficult to channel. Too often, we let them define us. Eventually, we become what we desire.
You’re always fighting for my attention
To show me life I cannot lose
There’s a book that was recently published called You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith. The title alone is thought provoking enough. It’s true. Our lives tend to resemble the things we love. And it affects our worship. Listen to how Smith defines in more detail- the battle for our attention, our loves and longings:
Christian worship, we should recognize, is essentially a counterformation to those rival liturgies we are often immersed in, cultural practices that covertly capture our loves and longings, miscalibrating them, orienting us to rival versions of the good life.
My “rival liturgy” – smart phone – had certainly confused the good life God intended for me- the invitation to spend time with Him daily. Allowing my desires to be shaped by the Spirit. That’s the worship I deeply desired.
Instead my warped routine lasted for I don’t know how long. Maybe it was weeks. Maybe it was months.
Finally, one morning, I got sick of it. I opened the scriptures again, as I had always done for years, beginning with the next Psalm that my Bible bookmarked for me…
“My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
The Spirit had all my attention at this point. I sat quietly, as a child being held in the arms of God. No prayer, just silence, calm, and contentment.
Hold me here like a child in Your arms
Calm my mind
Keep still my rushing heart
I rarely allow myself to be in this sort of place. This was a less-frequented room in God’s palace of wonder – taking me deeper into the life that is truly life. This is the space where, like a child or a loved one, you just enjoy the presence of each other. No words needed to be exchanged. A sort of unspoken adoration and belonging.
In his book Hearing God, Dallas Willard describes this type of occurrence, “Even at the merely human level, one of the highest forms of communication is that kind of communion in which no overt word is needed or wanted”, and it’s in this silent union we find “a life constantly before him in this world and the next.” We’re invited into a holy eternal presence of the Father.
All my fears come fleeing out
As all my walls come crashing down
My heart now beating at the rhythm it was intended to. Eventually, there was some dialogue. I was vulnerable at this point, so it was easier to pray deeply.
The cares of this world were secondary and easier to distinguish their meaning. My prayers were led by the Spirit, which helped me focus and intercede on what mattered most. Heaven, the space where God dwells, was invading my life, I had entered His holy place, surrounded by the faint and beautiful song.
I hear the music of my home
No better word for it.
That’s when I heard it: The melody, the song, the rhythm and instrumentation.
I quickly grabbed my phone.
That same phone that provided so many distractions before. This time, I used it to write down what had happened. A guided meditation, I suppose. The words flowed quickly.
The song that brought us “Here.”
Smith, James K. A. You are what you love: the spiritual power of habit. Grand Rapids, MI, Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2016.
Willard, Dallas. Hearing God. Downers Grove, IL., InterVasity Press, 1991.
Currey, Mason. Daily rituals: how artist work. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.