On Friday morning it finally happened. Austin’s summer heat collapsed under the weight of clear skies and cool(er) temperatures. October and March, offer Austin the kind of weather that explains why us locals are willing to endure horrific summers and pathetic winters. On Friday, all across the city people wrapped that weather around them and headed to Zilker park and listen to glorious music wash over them at ACL Festival. And instead of running to join them, I got in my car and drove to ‘work’. (Well, my version of work – speaking at a retreat.)
The more miles between me and my home, the more I could feel it in me: the flicker of FOMO – fear that I was missing out. Between retreat sessions, I watched my Instagram feed populate with perfectly polished postcards of joy and laughter and life, and I let them fuel the fear that I was not where I was supposed to be.
You and I are ruled by our fear of missing out. We talk about it as if it’s a joke. It’s an adorable acronym but it describes a deep insecurity that leads us to devastating darkness. Death itself exists because Eve yielded to FOMO. Unable to bear the fear that she might be missing out on something, she reached up with a trembling hand and pulled the forbidden fruit from the tree.
It is at the root of every sin: the panic that if we obey we will miss out on something good. It is why we neglect His call to go to the ends of the earth. It is why we give with a begrudging heart. What if somehow we miss out? It is at the heart of our discontentment with our season and stage of life; we can’t shake the feeling that we are missing out on some spectacular life just out of reach.
It is why we fear suffering and why we despise death. The threat of being yanked away from our dreams, our loved ones, our future is enough to fill us a with that trembling fear that we will miss out on what we were made to experience.
But God has send His Son to save us from FOMO by purchasing for us these three promises:
#1 God has bought us another life.
FOMO fuels itself on the scarcity of time. This life is a fleeting breath, and our FOMO takes hold of that fact and twists it: if you miss this opportunity, will there ever be another? You will never have this moment again. FOMO treats us as orphans, unsure of where our next meal of joy will come from, stealing and clutching at any pleasure around us.
But we are not orphans. We are children, and if children then we are heirs. We can give up everything in this life because we know we are going to gain everything in the next. We can say goodbye to our brothers and sisters for the sake of Christ, because we know we will enjoy eternity with them. We can exploit our singleness without regret because we will be with the perfect bridegroom forever. We can give up ACL to teach the word of God, anticipating the sound of the music that will echo around our ears on the flip side. We can – in fact, we must – live as those who might be pitied in this life – because we are banking everything on the next life.
#2 God has called us to a greater story.
On Friday, I finished reading an epic book. It’s about a heroine who is destined to fight against darkness beyond our wildest dreams, and that’s a destiny she despises. Embracing her calling would mean ‘missing out’ on the simple life she dreams of living. But, through suffering and loss she finally is forced to embrace the truth that she was born to defeat darkness and deliver her people, no matter how much pain and suffering that carries with it.
After I put the book down I laid awake for a long time, sort of trembly and twitchy. Because, me too. Because the war that rages around us is more deadly than any war an author could capture in words. It is a very real battle against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. And I am called away from the simple pleasures of this life in order to strike at the prince of the power of the air with the sword of the Spirit because I am part of a chosen race and a royal priesthood. Like the heroine in my books I am a stranger in this world, set apart with the painful privilege of a divine purpose. And you are too.
# 3 God has given us Himself.
There is no good apart from Him. Those who seek Him lack nothing. Settle it in your heart: as long as you have God, you are missing nothing. In His presence there is fullness of joy. Fullness. Nothing to miss out on. No more joy anywhere else.
I can’t shake the thought that God wired our hearts to experience FOMO. While the design has been sabotaged by our enemy, what if it was originally programmed into us to drive us to God? Imagine if we fled from sin because it threatened to cause us to ‘miss out’ on God. Imagine if we felt so much horror at the thought of ‘missing out’ on displaying God’s glory that we refused to waste our lives.
Let your fear of missing out drive you to God today. Let your FOMO teach you to pursue purity so you can see more God. Let your FOMO prompt you to repent fearlessly, refusing to wait for another second to see your Father sprint towards you. Let your FOMO drive you to make radical decisions for your life because you would hate to miss out on a drop of His grace.
[The book series referenced above is found here]