It’s easy to default to playing with your phone, checking out YouTube videos, podcasts, whenever you have a spare minute or free time. It can become a habit. More, for some it can be addictive. Our screens can suck away our time like a Shop-Vac sucks up dust and dirt.
But for the last few evenings, our family has had what we refer to as reading time. We gather in the living room, we each grab a book, and sit and read by candlelight. Usually we do it for about an hour or so. The kids snuggle on the couch with one or both of our dogs. I sit in our rocking chair and my wife enjoys “her” chair.
Now, lest I give the impression that this is always an idyllic time, sometimes one kid deliberately annoys another. There’s occasional bickering. During reading time, not everyone is always on the same page, pardon the pun.
Gravitating towards our digital devices is a common impulse in our age of distraction. But these days my habit has too often been checking out news on this or that app or website. Often a discouraging prospect, there’s nothing quite like news about politics or COVID to help me wind down for a good night’s rest. Unsurprisingly, all that does is cause my mind to whir for considerably longer.
Recently, I’ve taken to reading in the evening (and sometimes in the morning) from A.W. Tozer’s 2 volume set, The Attributes of God: Deeper into the Father’s Heart. The chapters are short, accessible, and devotional. It focuses my heart and mind on the character and being of God. It fixes my attention on what’s most important. Tozer doesn’t tell me much of anything about current events or politics, but he does help to orient my heart and mind for when I do read about those things.
I don’t know if reading will become a lifelong habit for our kids, but at least they are learning how much we value it and why. Having a reading time certainly makes an evening more relaxing than it might otherwise be. When life is busy and full of distractions, perhaps even this is enough.