You Are Missing Out on Something that Could Change Your Life

I was an obedient child – mostly by default. Afraid of my own shadow, rebellion even in its smallest forms terrified me.

No great credit, that.

Finding Jesus early, fearful by nature, and inclined to see the wisdom in boundaries, you’d think I’d be immune to temptation. But, you see, no one is. That’s the starting place of the gospel.

You see, I could be tempted to break rules when confronted by one fear that outstripped my fear of trouble: the fear of missing out.

Bedtime was sacred in the sixties. Even if the sun was shining and the other neighborhood children were playing outdoors. Even if Ed Sullivan was on. Even if there was a special showing of The Wizard of Oz or Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Fear of missing out incited me to sneak down the stairs and hide behind the giant swivel chair in our living room that was vacant in the evenings. From there, with racing heart, I could see at least half of the TV screen and catch a glimpse of what I was missing.

Unfortunately, it’s also how I managed to watch, undetected, In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s tale of murder, that haunted me well into adulthood. (Mom was at PTO and Dad dozed off so . . .)

There are many things it’s in our best interest to miss.

One remarkable practice of Jesus was to draw away from the crowds. To rise early to be alone with His Father. To invite the disciples to follow Him to desolate places – away from where everything was happening.

Many of Jesus’ most potent conversations happened without a large audience – the woman at the well, Martha on the road, Nicodemus in the night. Jesus was never driven by fear, and absolutely did not succumb to the temptation to make decisions based on the fear of missing out.

We are not yet like Him.

Our enemy assaults us from the moment we rise to the moment we rest with alerts and updates, flaming arrows aimed at the middle-schooler in charge of our emotional dashboards who is crazy afraid that there’s an incredible happening somewhere and we’re not invited.

We’re not fools, for sure, so the messages come tailored with a distinct spiritual flavor:

“I heard there’s a powerful teen ministry at that larger church in the next town over. Maybe we should check that out.”

“Our large church seems alive, but what if we just don’t know everyone well enough to see how fake they are? Should we be active in that new start-up instead?”

“I could spend my drive time to work praying and listening to my audio Bible, but what if there’s breaking news? Shouldn’t I keep up as a Christian, so I can pray?”

“What do you mean your church isn’t studying this new popular speaker? How can you expect to see spiritual growth/relevant evangelism/greater numbers if you aren’t aware of his six new ways to spread the gospel?”

 

“God has clearly called me to serve this particular group of people, but what about that group? Shouldn’t I know all about them, too? To pray? To give? Everyone seems excited about reaching them. Why would God assign me over here when He appears to be getting everyone else excited over there?”

“I know God’s called me to reach people with this message. I’m most effective when I take time for prayer, Bible study, and research, but my adviser said I’m not spending enough time on social media. I guess that’s what I should be doing, right?”

The spirit of our times is powerful, and her name is Distraction. If she can keep us constantly assessing our goal rather than working toward it, she wins.

If she can keep us continually looking to the left, the right, behind us, and off to the side, she can prevent us from seeing exactly where Jesus is leading.

If she can keep Siri, Alexa, Google, and the twenty-four-hour news stations providing us with relentless updates, she blocks us from following Jesus to that desolate place where He is speaking of what truly matters.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) keeps us following rabbit trails rather than delving deeper into the ministry to which we’re called. FOMO delays our commitments to churches, partners, or pursuits because to choose one is to not choose the others and maybe – maybe – the fear whispers – the other is better.

FOMO keeps us questioning our understanding of God’s Word. Maybe we can serve God and serve money – a little. Maybe we can surrender all – and stay seated in our pew. Maybe we can stand up for truth – and still stay silent so everyone likes us. Right?

There’s so much in life, surely God doesn’t want us to miss out on anything! Like a bite of fruit from that one tree . . . that won’t be so bad, will it?

You see, our enemy even lies about FOMO. We think we’re up against some new syndrome that no other generation of believers has had to conquer, but Satan isn’t creative. He can’t invent anything new. His tricks are as dusty as King Tut’s tomb.

God still calls to us to walk with Him in the garden.

Jesus still bids us leave our nets (even our Internets) and follow Him – follow Him to desolate places.

He is the author of life. Where He is, that is where everything that matters is happening.

How do we combat the fear of missing out (FOMO)?

By prioritizing the greater and righteous fear – fear of missing God (FOMG). That is also an ancient path, loved ones, but it’s One that, instead of sending us along endless circles, it leads us home.

 

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6 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Doris says:

    WOW!! much to chew on ~ thank you for a very thought provoking article.

  2. Megan Vance says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I really needed it tonight.

    “Where He is, that is where everything that matters is happening.”

    I too fear on missing out, but that word is truth, no matter what the enemy throws at us.

    Megan

  3. Oh my. I even had trouble settling down to read this article because I probably should see who just sent me that email! So timely for me.

  4. Sadly how true your words are … distraction so easily ensnares us!
    Blessings
    Maxine

  5. Deb Brown says:

    This is excellent Lori! I will be sharing your words in my groups this summer. You explained FOMO so well I am now looking over my own disguised distractions more careful. Excellent post.

  6. Rob McCullough says:

    Thank you Lori for clearly describing the tactics of the spirit of this age. Anything but keep our eyes on Christ. Blessings and Light and Life!