I think it is safe to say that our culture is VERY distracted. We live in a fast pace place with things constantly going on and or phones continuously buzzing. There are kids to take to practice, dishes to clean, Netflix shows to watch, and most importantly Facebook profiles to scroll through.
It is a struggle to have a quite time without the endless tug of something else to do. In my life these distractions have become very dangerous.. It has put a choke hold around my prayer life and tried to severe my connection with God. It is extremely frustrating and I think there are steps that need to be taken.
1. Step back.
Seems simple enough.. until you try it. When was the last time you sat still for 5 minutes and did nothing and you weren't haunted by all the things that "need" to be done? IT'S HARD! I just tried and maybe made it 38 seconds. That is scary to me. Okay, so breathe, and step back and evaluate what your distractions are. If your distractions include social media, your phone buzzing, and binge watching I think you'll enjoy the next step.
2. Turn off.
At times this is impossible and I get that but maybe just 10 minutes? Put your phone on silent or do not disturb mode. Turn off the TV. Close the laptop. And be with God. Read His word or just pray to Him. Or just sit in His presence.
3. Plug in.
I recently was at a restaurant where I saw a family of 4 not even looking at each other. They sat there on their phones. It broke my heart.
Instead of plugging into Facebook and scrolling through your newsfeed plug in to those around you. Maybe even give up social media for a while.. (It won't miss you, I promise.) Our world has lost a sense of true community and the internet is not going to give you that..
Put down the phone or whatever new tablet is out there and see the faces in front of you. Reach out and go towards real conversation. See people where they are and love them!
My prayer is that we can limit our distractions and be with God. I know in my life if I look at the distractions around me, I will then see what my heart's desires are.. Is it to honor God, or to scroll through countless news feeds and figure out what Beyonce named her new puppy.. It is time to push aside these things that truly do not matter and live a present life where I am, and constantly be in prayer.
This last Wednesday was a good day! The middle school youth group I help out with had our first get together of the school year! We kicked it off with a messy game night and I loved getting to see everyone again and even meet new people!
But after this awesome night and the wake of the storm (I like to call middle schoolers) there was a quite a mess! Marshmallows scattered like shrapnel across the battle field. Condiments we splattered over every possible surface. I decided to stay a bit longer and help clean.
I slowly made my way through the marshmallows and started to pick them up, throwing them into a bucket. Did I mention that these mallows were covered in ketchup and mustard, and now ants. When I first started picking them up I was disgusted and tried to pick them up in a way to keep me clean. You could say I wasn't excited to do it.
But, out of nowhere I was reminded of some lovely women I encountered while in Malawi, Africa. On our first day in the communities in Malawi we were able to join up with the Home Based Care workers. These ladies walk miles (literally miles) everyday to go care for the sick! These women come in pray with the sick, give them some encouragement from the Bible, and do some chores around the house for them! They also deliver some food and supplies. The whole time I was with these women I was just amazed by what they do! And then I heard the most shocking thing... They are volunteers!
Volunteers... who walk for miles.... to serve others....
I was/ am blown away!
So as I walk around picking up these soggy marshmallows I was reminded that just because I volunteer doesn't mean it should be easy.
I am not telling you this to guilt trip you into volunteering all your time away. What I am saying is these women walked to these houses not to see sick people, but to see friends and loved ones of Jesus Christ. They serve because they love.
My prayer is that I start volunteering and sacrificing more to glorify God and point others towards Him. So whether you walk ten miles or drive 3. Whether you pick up soggy marshmallows or stack chairs. Do it to glorify God.
" So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
As a kid I would sit with my eyes glued out of the car window on our long trips up to Kansas to see my grandparents.I didn't need games, or a screen, or even music. I was/am completely satisfied staring out the window while on the road. Traveling captivates me.
In fact my job these days is literally to worship God, travel with a couple of my closest friends, and hang out with youth groups from all over! (It can't get much better than that!!) Growing up my youth group had the motto of "Connect, Grow, Go!" and no I can't get enough of the "go" part!
But one key part of traveling has always been the toughest for me.. Coming home.
There are 2 things that I think fuel my dislike for coming back.
1.I am exhausted.
Being tired is such an easy target for the enemy to sneak in and provoke you to do things you normally would not do. You're irritable, you're weak and your guard is down. If you're tired I have some pretty simple but hard advice to follow, GO TO SLEEP!! The rest always helps and just recharges you.
2. They don't understand..
The best part of most journeys are the stories that come with them. Often I find myself retelling stories to people about my travels and I just can't help but feel that they don't get it.. Not that they don't care or that they aren't trying, it is just they weren't there so they could never fully connect to it. I feel like a puzzle piece and when I go on these trips I experience things and my shape changes, so when I come back home I don't quite fit back into my spot. I believe God uses traveling and trips as way to take us away from the norm and He builds us, so don't lose hope when it is hard coming home. Stay in constant prayer and don't be scared to share your experiences with some awesome people around you.
BUT THERE IS HOPE! I am reminded of the story in Mark chapter 5 where Jesus calls the legion of demons out of the man and sends them into the pigs. (If you haven't read this story, it is very good and you should read it.) After the man is set free he begs to go with Jesus. Jesus replies, "No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been." (Mark 5:1-2 emphasis mine)
When I am on the road I could easily go and go and see more and just keep on traveling. But that is not what God has called me to. He has called me to go for short periods, plant seeds, and come home. As much as I feel trapped at times I think God wants me to tell my stories and share what is going on with fellow believers. Maybe my mom needs to hear the stories, maybe my neighbor, or even a clerk at a gas station.
Whatever the purpose, I am here. God has intentionally placed me here with my abilities for some purpose. I don't think I need to know the reason I just need to walk obediently.
If we all have our eyes on the ends of the earth, what will come of our home?
What is comfort? At what point in your life will you be able to say that you have reached comfort? When you buy that house? Or when you FINALLY get your parents off your back for getting into that great university? Or is it when you can kick back on the couch for the evening and watch CSI and eat oreos?
Well, what if I told you I saw comfort in people who have no shoes, no source of electricity, a hole in their roof, and ate only one meal a day.. Honestly it shocked me because I know in my life I run after a sense of comfort that never truly satisfies me.. I wait until I have an abundance of something to give. I stress over getting somewhere that maybe I wasn't even supposed to get to. Are you with me?
On the 27th of July me and 11 others left our "comfortable" lives here in Texas and started a journey to Malawi, Africa. I had honestly never heard of Malawi and now I will probably never stop talking about it! Going into this trip I expected that I would see new things and even take some great "GoProfies" that were sure to get over 82 likes on Instagram. I don't think I fully understood how this great country in Africa would change me!
Truth be known, Malawi wrecked my life. While I was there I saw poverty, I saw awful living conditions, and I saw sickness draining life from people. But you know what I saw even more than that? I saw smiles of pure joy, I heard singing and worship as powerful as a marching band, and I heard laughter that filled the atmosphere.
One experience that will forever be painted in my mind is the the opportunity to help feed the orphans! Some of these awesome kiddos walk these same miles everyday to eat this one cup of porridge. And these same women that are there prepare the food, hand it out, and do these dishes everyday! I am glad we got to give them a short break from their hard work.
As these kids made their way out of the class they would wash their hands with a single cup or water. They would sit in rows on the ground and patiently wait for their meal. Not a single one would complain or cry. I was so shocked that this is the only meal that they would eat that day. And yet the only hunger I saw was in my own life...
In Malawi, I saw true comfort.. Not in their living conditions, not in the amount of money they have, or any worldly thing. I saw comfort from the only one who can supply that, The Comforter. These amazing people have God, and that is all they will ever need.
As I reflect on my trip around the world and back I can't help but notice the distractions (or as some of us call them "comforts") and how they only starve me from a close and intimate relationship to the creator. I thank God for where He placed me in my life. But I now have a true perspective on what comfort is and I pray I don't lose that.
"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust Him." Psalm 91:1-2
My name is Andrew Berry! I am just living my life chasing after Jesus and trying to point others to Him.