The iPad and your soul

The latest iPad is now in stores. Actually, that's probably not true. Apple can't keep up with the demand. Pre-orders were sold out in two days. Analysts expect the latest version of Apple's tablet computer to sell more than any model before.

By Jim Denison

Still refusing to jump on the tablet bandwagon? You may not have an option in the future. Industry analysts say that desktop computers will be obsolete by next year, replaced by mobile devices. Tablet computer sales are expected to grow to 326 million in three years.

A little web surfing revealed the following data about Apple's ubiquitous device:

--Over 55 million iPads have been sold in the two years since the first device was released; analysts expect the number to exceed 100 million by the end of the year.

--Over three billion apps have been downloaded since the first App store opened on July 10, 2008.

--87 percent of iPad owners use them every day of the week; 24 percent use them for more than two hours a day.

--69 percent use it in the bedroom; 42 percent use their iPad in the kitchen; 20 percent of men use it in the bathroom.

Are you old enough to remember when technology was supposed to make our lives simpler and less stressful? Work days would be shorter, with more time for leisure. How's that working for you?

According to recent surveys, nearly 60 percent of Christians around the world say they're too busy to spend more time with God. Two out of three pastors agree. A Gallup poll found that 44 percent of Americans call themselves "workaholics."

Technology has certainly made my life more stressful. There's seldom a time when I feel "off work," with e-mail as close as my iPhone and writing projects waiting on my iPad and MacBook wherever I go. I'm working more hours today than ever before, with no end in sight. You probably feel the same way.

It's tempting to think that we are the first generation to face such challenges to spiritual rest and health, but I'm not sure that's the case. Jesus' disciples had no iPads to keep them busy and stressed, but they were as temporally challenged as we are.

Fishermen could work at all hours -- remember the time when Jesus told Peter to let down his nets for a catch, to which the Galilean replied, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything" (Luke 5:5).

If they weren't fishing, they were mending their nets (Matthew 4:21). Peter and his business partners exported dried fish all over Israel -- they could always be out seeing clients or making sales calls. They had no salaries and no unemployment benefits -- if they didn't work they didn't eat.

When these men joined Jesus' movement, things did not slow down for them. Mark reports one particularly busy season of ministry, when "so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat." What was Jesus' prescription for them? "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31). They needed time for solitude, rest and communion with their Lord.

So did Jesus. The feeding of the 5,000 followed these instructions to his disciples. After caring for the people, "Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray" (vs. 45-46). His example is recorded in Scripture as God's invitation to us.

We just finished spring break in Dallas. I don't remember having this holiday when I was in school, but I'm glad someone invented it. Just as students need time away from class, souls need time away from the hectic chaos of our days.

Whether you buy a new iPad or not, if you're like me you need a break from technology. Time to "be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Time to rest, to reflect, to listen to your Father's voice in your spirit and find his fingerprints in his creation. Time to be alone with Jesus.

When is your next appointment with him?

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.