Much has been said about American Christians and the unique struggles they face. Before reading Trevin Wax’s book, I thought our unique struggle was that we didn’t have enough unique struggles. That’s the problem This is Our Time sheds light on – most of our struggles are so subtle, so insidious, so pervasive, that we don’t recognize them until we’re caught in a web of our own making.
Your Phone is a Myth-Teller
Take the first chapter, for example, on the iPhone. Wax reminds us that behind every lie is a longing that is good and God-given. Two of his points on the iPhone resonated with me more than I like to admit. First, we turn our smartphones into our own little worlds. Touché. I have all my apps arranged just how I like them, so I can find and open whatever app I want to without looking. Since I like all my things boxed up and organized, my apps are in specific collections on specific pages, probably in a specific order. My music is organized just how I like it. My photos are all edited just how I like them. My favorite contacts all have pictures with their names, and a select few have nicknames. My calendar is tailored to me. My weather app is tailored to me. My notes contain lots of personal journals, insignificant shopping lists, packing checklists, and even price lists for things like fresh fruit. Maybe I go a little overboard with my need for tidiness in my little world, but it’s mine and it’s the way I like it.
It’s not that my organization is wrong, but it’s probably why I fight irritation when other people intrude on my phone. When my little brother leaves photos of a car he found that was probably very special, I remind myself that it’s really fine, and it doesn’t matter if there are unedited pictures in my camera roll with no significance to me. When someone else makes a playlist in my music app, I make myself not delete it. The point: it’s my little world, where I’m in charge and finally in control. The problem is that I frequently pick up my phone and retreat into it.
Wow. When I realize that’s what I’m subconsciously doing, I’m horrified by how dangerous that is – how it impacts my mentality about my life, space, and needs.
The second point that stood out to me is that behind my love of social media is a longing – to know and to be known. That longing is good. God put it within us to drive us to Him and to each other. But social media can only connect me with people so much. I’ve met some very dear friends on social media, yes, and I’ve kept in contact with people that I would have missed, but I’ve realized that I start to look to my phone when I feel that longing. How terrible that I allow the longing for intimacy to drive me to my phone rather than God!
The longing, the lie, the light
This is Our Time reminds us of the longing, the lie, and the light behind American ideas. Trevin explains that Christians usually either focus too much on the lie or on the longing. He challenges us to see both in the light of the Gospel.
Wax’s chapter titles endeared the book to me. I love how blunt yet artistically beautiful his writing is! “Your Phone is a Myth-Teller” speaks of the affects of our smartphones on our mentality. “Hollywood is After Your Heart” points out how movies and music shape us and how we can be faithful as we navigate the world of entertainment. I appreciate Trevin’s reminder that putting filters on our phones or only listening to Christian music is not enough – we must be aware of and monitor our intake. He talks about stories, why we love them so much, and why the Gospel is the greatest story ever written. He quotes an unnamed author summing up the storyline of the Bible – Kill the dragon. Get the girl. We see that storyline everywhere we look, but I love it in the light of the Gospel! “Shopping for Happiness” identifies consumption as a religion that we buy into without really realizing what we’re doing. I’ve saved at least $50 since reading that chapter. “As the World Wobbles” talks about progress and the fact that our world is never getting better or getting worse – it just wobbles a little on its axis. Wax also includes chapters on the pursuit of happiness, our citizenship in Heaven, marriage, and sex.
The time to walk boldly
This is Our Time was like a breath of fresh air for me – so many of Wax’s ideas have been marinating in my mind lately, and hearing someone else put words to my forming convictions was so good. Marvin Olasky, in the foreword, writes:
“Many current books assume an attention span of ten minutes, but This is Our Time has layers of meaning, as the title expression itself also has. This is the time for millenials like Trevin to step up and take leadership. This is the time for all of us to stop wasting time by distracting ourselves rather than walking boldly through the valley of the shadow of death. This is the only time we have, and instead of bemoaning developments, we need to develop new/old ways to live.”
That is why I loved this book. I do not want to spend my time distracting myself, and it takes lots of hard, intentional work to walk boldly through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s what Trevin calls his readers to in his book – to stop dulling ourselves with distractions and to stand up, look around, and walk boldly.
Although he doesn’t include a list of ways to prevent the lies behind the American mentality from ever touching us, Wax reminds readers of our responsibility to look beyond the lie to the longing God created. I felt like he pointed out the dangers and asked his reader “What are you going to do about this?” His writing is inspiring, personal, down-to-earth, and extremely thought-provoking. I’d say it’s the best book I’ve read this year, but that wouldn’t carry much weight in February, would it? Read it. It’s worth your time, lost sleep, and $14 on Amazon.
|Danielle Mast lives with her family in Seneca, South Carolina. She is the oldest of five, going on eight, as her family waits for their adoption process to be completed. She loves learning, good conversations, blow pops, fall, and rain. Her everyday goal is to live purposefully, fully satisfied in Christ, as she endeavors to learn to wait. In the future, she dreams of using a cotton candy machine, being more actively involved in mission work, and writing a really good piece of poetry. Danielle’s passion is to see those around her inspired to reach their full potential in Christ.|