Clare Boothe Luce, our US ambassador to Italy in the early 1950’s, lived in a beautiful 17th-century Italian villa.
During that time she began to notice that she was always tired. She lost weight, and seemed to have less and less energy. She sought medical care, and it was discovered that she was suffering from arsenic poisoning.
Everyone on her staff was given a security check, but no one was trying to poison her. Which left the question: Where was the poisoning coming from?
Finally, they found the cause. It was the ceiling of the bedroom. There were beautiful designs of roses, ornately done in plaster relief, and painted with an old paint that contained arsenic lead.
A fine dust fell from the roses, and Mrs. Luce was slowly, quietly being poisoned in her own bed. Thankfully, she took measures to correct this and survived.
That slow, quiet poisoning process is still happening in homes around the world—likely even yours. Not arsenic poisoning, but the slow, quiet poisoning of binge-watching. People are self-medicating on hours of TV or YouTube videos.
What’s wrong with relaxing in front of the screen after a long, hard day? We’re mindlessly giving one thing permission to influence us, draw us in, and take our time and energy from other things.
“Woe to you who are complacent,” the Bible says (Amos 6:1). God doesn’t condemn entertainment, as long as it is wholesome. Including movies, series and videos. God condemns mindless complacency that sleepily lounges under poison without taking measures to control or correct it.
“You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches” (Amos 6:3,4).
Denial of one reality makes another unintended consequence very real. Here’s the reality: media produced by professionals to keep your attention will keep your attention. One. More. Episode.
What’s the solution? Can’t we just relax once in a while? Absolutely. As much as Clare Booth Luce needed sleep, just not poisonous sleep slowly killing her.
So, relax without complacency. Relax not mindlessly but mindfully. Lounge on your sofa with thoughtfully planned purpose and boundaries. The human mind and body doesn’t need 4 hours of binge-watching in order to unwind and relax.
Make an agreement with yourself and your family, “We are going to watch one episode, or one hour, or one football game.” Then, as part of the deal, make a purposeful plan about what’s next. It will give you another good reason to turn off the screen
“After the movie, we’re going to bake some cookies … going to play a game … going to have a family meeting … going to spend time in Bible study and prayer before bed.”
Good things are no longer good things when they become ultimate things. God’s good gifts in this life are not given to be lords, but servants.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, wake me up, please! I am falling asleep to what is dangerous in my life. Open my eyes to see with clarity. Forgive the selfish desires of my heart. Thank you for your good gifts, may I use them instead of them using me. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Spend some time meditating on Psalm 63 today. Take at least ten minutes of undistracted, focused, spiritually mindful attention to God. When and where is David, the writer of this psalm, doing just that? What ideas does this psalm provide for you to overcome complacency with God?