A week before we moved to Michigan, we began the process of getting internet connected at our camp house. Three and a half weeks later, we’re still without internet, although the promise of digital goodness is just a day or two away (so they tell us for the fourth time!).
It’s amazing how much our family has missed our internet connection. Every day Celina asks us something that requires the answer, “No honey, that app needs internet.” Each of us has had a moment on an iPad or on the laptop trying to open something before we realized…oh yeah, that requires internet!
Over the past two years we’ve been without conventional television, choosing instead to be a Netflix family. So being without internet has been a double whammy, because our entertainment via Netflix has also been disabled. Life is rough here in Northern Michigan!
Alas, God gave us some much needed perspective when we got an update from our friends Andy and Jodie, who are serving God half way around the world. Andy was the feature of my 100th blog (a few blogs early due to his departure from America; you can read it here). He and his family are an inspiration to anyone living the Overboard Life, and he has been one of my dearest and best friends over the past 12+ years.
Andy and Jodie are adjusting to a brand new culture. They are experiencing things I’ve never come close to: things like real hunger. I’m not talking about the kind of hungry when I just can’t decide which of the fast food restaurants I’m going to eat at, or which thing in my overflowing fridge I’m going to devour. I’m talking about the kind of hunger where you’ve eaten your “food” for the day, and your bowl of rice just isn’t cutting it at 9pm. The type of hunger where the nearest real store is 2 hours by car, and that’s if you only get one flat tire, and aren’t stopped by authorities to pay a “tax” (a tax that isn’t written anywhere and is required if you wish to proceed). A kind of hunger where you really are wondering where your next meal is going to come from, and where you have no answers for your kids when they ask about food. There is no electricity, and therefore little-to-no cold storage. Meal gathering and preparation is a full-time task, taking up over 1/2 of the hours he and Jodie are awake.
As I was lamenting my loss of internet, Andy was a million miles away, lamenting a lack of safety. Each night before they go to bed, he and his wife spend 90 minutes securing the mosquito nets for their kids’ beds to keep them free from malaria-carrying insects. He kills giant spiders and scorpions by the twos and has already had several encounters with deadly snakes. He spends the afternoons taking a machete to the tall grass; a way to keep the snakes from getting comfortable near their home.
Andy does have internet however. If he’s willing to take a 90 minute hike (one way), up a hilltop outside of his village, where he can use a regional cell phone to tether a signal and send a few emails. Not enough signal to do any web browsing, but just enough to download his current batch of emails, and send the ones he worked on back in the village. Then he walks 90 minutes home, all the while keeping a watchful eye for dangerous creatures.
Yeah…but I have to walk five minutes to my office to get internet!
Sometimes, a little perspective can go a long way. There’s no doubt that not having internet has been an inconvenience. But that’s all it is. I have access to it elsewhere, I can plan better for my time, and I still have an iPhone (with the old school unlimited data plan!) that gives me all the access I want. In the big picture, my life is still pretty good even without internet.
This unintended internet fast has been good for me, and good for my family. Is there something in your life you should take a break from in order to gain a little perspective? My friend Aaron is a 20-something young married who gave up video gaming for the month of January. That was like cutting off an arm for him, but half way through the month he told me, “I can’t believe how much time I have now!” Indeed. What about you? Is there a “necessity” in life that you could go without to gain a little perspective? Spare me the excuses (I’ve heard and used them all), and get down to the nitty gritty: how much do you really need that thing in your life? Heck, my friend Cal still doesn’t have a cell phone and he somehow manages to still stay pretty connected to his friends and family. (Although really, Cal, ditch the rotary phone and go with the touch pad!)
Living Overboard requires us to identify what’s really important, and to make sure we never compromise the important and essential for the convenient and fun. Yes, it’s ok to enjoy conveniences and to seek out pleasure and fun; it’s just not ok to think either of those things is essential in our lives! What starts out as ok, can easily become a driving force, and a real distraction from living Overboard.
One time, a rich young man came to Jesus and boasted in his diligence to obey every law (613 of them, give or take). Yet he knew, inherently, something was still missing. So he asked Jesus, “What must I do to be saved?” Jesus’ response was shocking: “Give all that you have to the poor, then come and follow me.” The man was rich, and he couldn’t imagine parting with his wealth. He left rejecting Jesus and embracing his wealth.
Jesus wasn’t telling us that having things (ie. conveniences or money) was evil. He was pointing out that it’s far too easy for those things to drive us, instead of us driving them. The rich man who came to Jesus was boasting in his actions, and Jesus was revealing where the man’s real treasure was. In much the same way, Andy’s situation has helped me identify some troubled areas in my life.
What convenience or possession or piece of entertainment has a strong hold in your life? If you’re brave, post it in the comments for others to see. Then, find a creative way to take a break. See how you can gain a little perspective and make sure your Overboard Life isn’t being limited because of poor stewardship on your part.
Go ahead and take the plunge…life is always better on the water!