Illustration Courtesy of Deborah Coble Wise
I have known this for a while, but it really hit me this morning - we have way too easily accepted the inundation of advertisements that we are assaulted with day in and day out. I fear its driven by our motivation to get something for 'free'!
It started with radio and broadcast television, which before cable was 'free', advertisers paid for ads and we sat through them because we didn't want to get up and switch the channel during the commercial break (there were only a handful of channels back then anyway). Now that most of us pay for cable/satellite television or DVD's or the internet we have the luxury, and the insanity, of being joined at the hip to our remote controls.
Most YouTube videos play a commercial at the beginning, as do some of my iPhone apps - especially the games. I find it interesting how these ads have grown more sophisticated. I used to be able to click them away, now with video ads you have to watch and listen a few seconds before the skip button appears.
All to get eyeballs on products.
All ultimately take our eye off of the ball.
You know the saying, don't you? "Keep your eye on the ball!" When we were kids and my dad was using us as target practice, I mean practicing his fast pitch softball pitching, he'd tell us time and again "keep your eye on the ball!" We learned to do so out of self preservation - but that's a story for another day.
With the assault of marketing messages permeating every facet of our lives it's easy to feel overwhelmed. It can be really hard to filter out competing messages and demands for our attention. As a person of faith I must ask myself - how am I keeping my eye on the source of all that is good and right? Am I keeping my eye on Christ Jesus?
"Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”" (Matthew 14:29-31 The Message)
What has gotten into us?
Thanksgiving is just days away. During the month of November many of my friends have been posting on FaceBook and Twitter things they are thankful for...I think that's great, but honestly, I believe part of our normal practice should be to write down each and every day what we are thankful for.
After making the requisite posts about family, home and friends, I have found myself taking more time to think deeply and reflect about what else I am thankful for: creativity, a walk with a friend, beautiful music, conversation over a cup of tea, a sliver of the moon rising at sunset...and in the midst of each of these is God's love and grace - poured out, spread broadcast and absolutely free.
The Rev. Deborah Coble Wise is a United Methodist pastor in Waverly, Iowa.