Short Stories: Moments with God

Neglecting God: Media, Motives, Mind Games

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I was determined to get it right this time. I was 40 days into a 90-day media fast and there was no denying that there was a huge difference: I was level-headed. Sober-minded. Cool. Calm. Collected.

I had been down this road before. Over the years, I had wasted countless hours watching and re-watching shows. I absorbed animes, devoured documentaries, feasted on films. I was striving to satisfy an appetite for entertainment that was somehow never satisfied.

“That’s my way of relaxing” I would think, as my energy faded away. Yet, I was still happy to sacrifice hours of sleep to watch movies that I had already seen countless times. I would wake up tired the next day and look forward to coming home after work to “relax” some more.

It was a vicious cycle. A vain habit that kept countless treasures buried. What good was passion without pursuit? Or talents without refinement? I had been given the time, but misplaced priorities got the best of me.

1 year… 3 years… 5 years… 10 years of mediocre “Me Time”. After countless failed attempts at finding a balance, I was sick of it.

I knew I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I knew that the Spirit of God lived in me… the One who produced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and… oh yes… self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23). But it was still hard.

So here I was, trying to choose purpose over leisure again.

90 days. I just had to hold on for 90 days.

Well, let me tell ya. The 1st day was a nightmare: I almost counted the locks on my head out of sheer boredom. On the 2nd day, I realized how much free time I actually had and decided to come up with productive activities.

As the days went on, I spent more time with God, rediscovered the concept of books, started writing more frequently, pursued several dormant projects and experienced mental clarity. I thanked God because I knew that He was at work within me.

On the 40th day, I was reminded of a lesson that The Holy Spirit had taught me a little over a year ago. I was meditating on the notions of abstinence, when He told me that abstinence is done out of love for Him: I had a choice.

It was up to me to decide out of love, not out of guilt or shame or constraint, to give up certain things in order to move forward with Him. I could choose between what the world had to offer or what He had in store for me.

The illustration that came to mind was Jesus in the desert during his 40-day fast (how ironic!). When satan offered him bread to eat, he responded “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:1-4). In other words, “I am literally starving in a desert, but I will endure because my God has a plan and He will provide in due time”.

That’s what abstinence is. It doesn’t breed envy. It doesn’t long for what was left behind, but despises all irrelevant things that once took the place of God in one’s heart. It is a joyful act of love.

I won’t deny it. Sometimes, I wonder what will happen after the fast. Sometimes, I fear that I will go back. That I will get distracted. That I will forget. But I can’t focus on that.

I know that God is faithful. And right now, I choose not to forfeit the future that He has purchased for me because of a past that He has conquered.

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