It was Tuesday evening at about 9pm. I had my laptop open searching for a new house, in the other hand was my smartphone as I trolled through the usual cycle of endless apps. I’d also just started another episode of a hearty and uplifting Netflix series called Black Summer, a delightfully original show about a virus that turns half the world into zombies. If I was employed at the time, I’m pretty sure I’d have been checking emails too.
“I was insecure and a little dejected at the sight of how much more enthralling my friends lives seemed than my own.”
Needless to say, as the hours went by, I couldn’t find a house in our price range or anywhere near it (classic London), I was insecure and a little dejected at the sight of how much more enthralling my friends lives seemed than my own, and you’ll be surprised to know that the character development in Black Summer was quite poor and the plot one-dimensional. Somewhere in the midst of it all I somehow bought a new pair of trainers I probably don’t need. I had a headache.
I’d love to say this was a one off; It was just an evening of bad choices; I didn’t set myself up to win; three screens is too much for anyone even if you have excelled several levels in Castle Crush; I should have lit more candles. The reality is, not for the first time, I spent hours enviously looking at numerous multi-million-pound mansions just for the lols, I’m embarrassed to share the screen-time statistics my iPhone keeps volunteering, and I’m now on Episode 7 and concerned by how long I’ll have to wait for Season 2. I was consumed.
“I wonder what they would assume is most important to me. What would they assume is the centre of my world?”
As I sat there consumed and exhausted, having actually done very little (the paradox of infinite stimulation), it all got me thinking. If someone was to evaluate my life, the ups and downs, time at work and time at home, time with friends and time alone, I wonder what conclusions they’d draw. I wonder what they would assume is most important to me. What would they assume is at the centre of my world? What would they suggest I’ve been truly captivated by?
We find ourselves in a cultural moment in which my Tuesday night might describe much of our lives. Addicted to the constant cycles of stimulation; our millennial right to never be bored. Silently struggling through the comparison fuelled discontent driving much of our social media usage. Exhausted in an age of consumerism in which brand after brand fuel and feed on our growing dissatisfaction, promising to satisfy eternal longings they have no answer for. And yet, we’re called to be people that belong to another world.
Citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20). Content through all circumstances (Phil 4:11-13). Our minds set not on earthly things but things above (Col 3:2). Our eyes fixed on that which is eternal and unseen rather than succumbing to the assault of the seen and temporal (2 Cor. 4:18). Captivated by He who gave his life to save us, not just from our sin but from the hamster wheel of striving, status, and success as the foundation for identity. The only One who offers the rest and freedom that our souls desperately long for.
God is calling us to be a people utterly captivated by Him; the only One who can truly satisfy our souls. Those who have tasted what it’s like to walk in such intimacy are spoilt for anything less. Contrary to what one might think based on the verses above, it’s not an intimacy that transports you to a distant and ethereal word. But more firmly plants your feet in the real world; with family, neighbours, co-workers and strangers. All those who desperately need to discover they are image-bearers of God; called to something more.
As we long to live lives orientated around His presence and to take that transformative presence to a broken and hurting world, the Shift Weekend is an opportunity to step back. To retreat. To be with family and allow Jesus to speak. Positioning our hearts to hear His whisper. To meet with Him and orientate our lives in response to his call. To once more lose our lives that we might find Him and watch our world change as we do so.
“We invite you to come and be part of the family.”
We invite you to come and be part of the family. Come and be captivated by Jesus. Enamoured with Him. Join us in the rebellion against the consuming patterns of the cultural moment we find ourselves in, come and root your life in the slow rhythms of grace. The answer isn’t actually another weekend away, the answer is Jesus. But sometimes it can be hard to hear when you can’t drown out the noise (of zombies).