I love TV, movies, Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine, YA novel series (I said that one in a whisper), and awards shows. Ever since my much younger days when my brothers and I religiously watched Rugrats, I have had 3-5 shows that I loyally watch, and I’m definitely prone to binge reading a series of books in a few days that prove teenage girls are our only hope if the world falls apart (just finished the Divergent trilogy). Just like my mama before me, I can tell you all about the social lives of celebrities and their movie resumes as well as a movie’s behind-the-scenes trivia. I’m not sure where this fascination comes from, but I admit it—the entertainment business really entertains me.
Two months into my stint as a mostly single mama, though, I am finding that I simply don’t have time for all of this. The detectives of Law & Order: SVU have had to struggle on without me, and I have a mountain of unread magazines by my bed. Not to mention that I haven’t even watched one single episode of this round of The Voice! My TV thrills have come solely from wondering if Doc McStuffins will save her toys, as Disney Junior has become a very handy assistant in helping me distract my sons when I need to get something done.
Therefore I have gone through an unintentional entertainment detox that I’m starting to think I may have desperately needed. That coupled with reading three life-changing books (Love Does, More or Less, and Forgotten God) over the last few months has challenged me to ask myself in what ways I need to purify my life. This has led me to then ask the even harder question: does my life look any different from the lives of those without Christ?
I believe that, yes, overall it does. But I do not think I have been as diligent or intentional as I need to be. Recently, in a delayed-New-Year’s-resolution fury, I started reading the Bible from the very beginning. I realized that pretty much ever since I had children, my Bible reading had become very sporadic and nonsensical. I opened the Word and read it wherever my finger landed. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it also meant that I was forgetting a lot of the stuff in there. Many sermons or other people’s blog posts would make me wonder, “That’s in the Bible?!” I felt convinced I needed to figure that out for myself.
Honestly, it has been one surprise after another, and I’m only in Genesis. I was a lot younger the last time I read through Genesis, and I definitely don’t remember ever thinking that many of the stories applied to me. I didn’t feel in danger of pretending Ryan was my brother in order to save my life or offering up my children to the horny men in my village in order to save my angel houseguests (Genesis 12:14-20 & 19:6-8). The people in the beginning of the Bible were two-dimensional “heroes of faith” or “villains”, and their actions were puzzling.
Lot’s story in particular always struck me as plain weird (Genesis 19). God decides to destroy the evil cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleads with God to spare the city if as many as ten righteous men can be found. God agrees, but unfortunately, not even ten remain in the city walls. But God does show mercy by sending two angels to go fetch Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family. Lot tries to convince his daughter’s fiancés to escape with them, but the men laugh at Lot and remain in the city. Right as Lot and his family walk out of the city walls, everything and everyone is destroyed. Oh, and Lot’s wife looks back at the destruction and is turned into a pillar of salt. Like I said—weird.
Many thoughts clung to me this time through. First of all, Lot did not seem all that righteous or worthy of saving. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s never been an admirable thing to offer your daughters up as sex slaves. Realizing this helps me to recognize that it is not about Lot’s righteousness, but God’s mercy. Also, the people in Lot’s life were not at all convinced by his pleas to save them. They laughed at him and thought he was joking. This shows me that Lot had not led a life that moved others to trust him. Even though God chose to save him, perhaps for Abraham’s sake, Lot had let his surroundings mold him instead of the other way around.
I recognize myself more often than I would like in this and other Genesis stories. The themes of the people’s lives resonate with my own struggles and triumphs. I, too, have daily opportunities to act out of fear or trust in God; I, too, need to choose to show my allegiance to God and not the world; and I, too, need to recognize that even in my “heroic” moments, God is the true hero of my story. It really is never about my righteousness; it is always about his mercy.
I am truly not sure how this will affect my choices about what I watch and read once I have more time to conscientiously make those choices (or maybe I won’t have “more time” until the boys leave the house and this will all be a non-issue for awhileJ), but I do know that I am feeling very convicted that I want my life to point to the Holy Spirit’s work in me, from the entertainment I pursue to the way I spend my money. I want to live a life that so clearly points to God as my hero that if I told you all to leave your city and save yourselves, you would believe me.
And yet, I know that I am very much a work in progress. Because even as I am seeking to figure out what actionable changes this will mean for my life, I am a lot like Lot’s wife, looking longingly backward at The Bachelor and wondering if there’s a way to keep that around. Perhaps I’m still just a pillar of salt.
So, I invite your wise thoughts into this issue of being in the world and not of it. I know I have definitely not landed on any solid conclusions, and I would love to know how you all navigate following God in a fallen world. How does it affect what you watch? Buy? Do with your time?
Wherever you fall on these issues, may you feel filled with the one who is truly the hero of all our stories. May you feel rescued by a God who has pulled us from destruction. And may you see that Jesus came in order that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).