Sometimes the greatest lessons we learn in life come not during experiences but after. Last week I committed myself to a media fast and, while I greatly enjoyed the experience, I am really learning my lessons now, in the aftermath. It’s not the three step “hear advice, apply advice, succeed” type of learning, either; it’s the far less preferable, “hear advice, nod your head, go back to trying to defuse the bomb with a paper clip and a sharpie, blow up half of Chicago and spend two years in clinical rehab” type of learning. Fortunately for me (and half of Chicago), I’m not working with bombs here, but that doesn’t mean that I can take the matter of media addiction as a joke. I’ve seen what life is like without media, I know how much life I waste everyday entertaining myself, but I just jumped right back into it when the fast ended because I’m used to it, because it’s a habit.
It reminds me of sin, and even though I’d rather try to defuse a bomb than admit it, it probably is. God created me with good works prepared in advance for me to do. He expected great things out of me before there even was a me, and better yet he committed himself completely to helping me accomplish those good works. What kind of man am I if I take control of this life He’s given me and use it for myself, if I refuse to take part in the unimaginably great things He has for me? I’m a fool, and I know it. Thankfully, God knew that since before I existed, too, and He still chose to call me. He knew the cost and He believed it was worth it; now it’s up to me to decide if trusting Him is worth the price He’s asking from me.
How far will I have to go? I’m not sure. I don’t believe that God wants me to remove myself from all outside influences, nor do I think that He wants to chip away at everything fun in my life until my spirit cracks under the strain. I do believe that God expects more for my life than I’m currently getting, and it makes Him furious to see me haplessly missing out on so much for nothing. I believe that God will not stop working in me, tearing me apart, stopping me cold, and knocking me down until I let Him put me together, build me up, and set me running toward the priceless prize of a victorious, blessed, abundant, effective life.
It’ll be a messy process, sure, but I’d rather pursue wholeness erratically than collapse slowly and predictably. Will I find exactly the right balance of media in my life tomorrow? Not a chance. Will I ever find it? Probably not. Will I pray consistently, work diligently, and move purposefully toward it? Absolutely. And on the days that I fail to do so, will I give up? Never. Because true change isn’t a simple, three step process. True change comes from genuine perseverance and absolute conviction even when the monsters without and within fight against you full force. True change means not always winning but always going another round, and in the end true change is the greatest victory.