Try Sending God a Text. He May Answer Back.

Think about this one: do you have that one friend that makes it effortless to reach out to? He or she is a unique, glowing thread in the sometimes dull fabric of your everyday life – and never scolds you if it’s been awhile. I would call this sort of friend a touchstone – you feel better and more secure about your day after sending or receiving a text to or from this person, because she really knows you. I mean deep-down knows you.

Even if it’s a quick “Hi, how are you,” or “I can’t wait to tell you what just happened!” or “I feel so dumb. Here’s why…” you know your text is gladly received, and that it – and you –  are precious to the receiver. That’s one of the beauties of modern communication – we have the ability to keep the chain of friendship going at very little cost to us personally.

Why is this so easy, but prayer can be so hard? We don’t even need a cell phone to pray – we can do it anywhere. But prayer comes with a little niggling bundle of worries – it’s been so long, I’m not in the right frame of mind, or, my mind will wander, like it always does. Even worse: if He is up there at all, He doesn’t care anyway.

Here’s a little experiment I just tried: send a text to God. You can text your own number, but pretend it is God, or Jesus. Keep it short, or make it long. But make sure you are intentional; this is to God, and it must be truthful. You have willingly suspended disbelief, and your own cell number has become God’s direct line.

Interestingly, I got really real in my text. Here’s what I said: I’m tired. And I was, I realized; physically, mentally, and emotionally. But after I sent that text to God, a weight lifted. I was completely honest and to the point, and let God in on how I was doing, right at that moment, from my human perspective.

God answered my text – with enlightenment on my own state of being, and with the idea to share this with others. While we always want to strive to get down on bended knee or make it to church to spill our own personal cares and give glory to our Creator, sometimes it is also appropriate to spit it out in truthfulness – the way we do with our nearest and most trusted friends.

Text God. See what you say, and listen for a response. There’s even a cute praying-hands emoji if that makes it feel complete.

 

Timberlake’s Half-time Show Reminds Us We Crave Authenticity

As a Patriots fan, today is slow-going. I am sitting at my desk in my Pats tee shirt (which I slept in), pajama bottoms, and puffy socks. Mourning this morning will happen; I’ll give myself until noon. Great game Eagles! Well-deserved win.

As a big fan of Justin Timberlake, I was disappointed in his half-time show. I remember the absolute chills I had watching him perform “What Goes Around” on SNL some years back.  And don’t get me started on N’Sync. The dance moves! The harmonies!

What was missing in JT’s show? Other artists, for one. And a better, unmistakable yet subtle tribute to Prince. It seems Prince was no fan of JT, and he also abhorred singers singing with dead artists via hologram tech. But more troubling than any of those was the lack of authenticity. I’d rather see Steven Tyler of Aerosmith straight-out rocking his brains out – being his authentic self – than JT taking selfies, creating club scenes in the hallways of the stadium, and wearing spiffy designer duds.

Too much production douses creative spark with cold water.

It seems like more of our lives is fed by this vein of inauthenticity. At special events we busily take pictures to post to Facebook, forgetting to live in the moment. We are too busy to really care about neighbors in a sustained way, locked in our homes glowing with the light from Netflix on television, preferring the relaxation of  on-demand theater to the simple satisfaction of  ongoing neighborly connection. We design our daily input with Pandora for music, DVR/subscription options for TV, and geolocation tech for our road trips. Spontaneity fades, taking its cousin authenticity with it.

(Remember the simple joy of hearing your favorite song on the radio? Now you can download that song and play it until you are sick of it — taking it to the gym, the shower, the car. You couldn’t do that with albums!)

Our longing for – and recognition of – authenticity comes from God. He has planted within each of us a small bell that rings sweetly in our soul when something is real and truthful. It is the place where our gasps, sudden tears, and widened eyes come from. Is there anything better when you suddenly feel His presence just when you need it most? Is there anything more beautiful than a spontaneous, authentic moment; a marriage proposal, a baby being born, an artist throwing his head back and singing his truth for the world?

Seek and create the authentic. It is seeking you, reaching its arms out from within the patterns and rituals of everyday life. Pick it up and let it ride with you awhile.

 

 

Christian Commitment in the Robot Age

This may seem like a strange first post, but I am hoping with this blog to explore faith – specifically Christian faith – in an increasingly complex world. Forces like technology, social media (which is supposed to bring us more connection but I believe is disconnecting us from meaningful interaction) and plain old lack of time and abundance of apathy – we’re doing pretty well on our own, right? – make tracing our path from ourselves to our Creator increasingly hard.

After all, we are darn close to having robots. We will control the robots, but they will evidence “deeper learning,” too – they will teach themselves. I believe soon we will have robots to care for us, keep us company, walk our dogs, hold our hands. We will rely less on that we can’t see, and more on what we ourselves create. Our own intelligence, as well as artificial intelligence, will rule the day.

Or will it?

I participate in a Bible study each week with two women I really like and admire. The feeling I get when I leave my friend’s warm, cheery kitchen and step out into the world again simply cannot be duplicated –  it is as far from artificial as you can get. It is the antithesis of artificial; it is authentic contentment and a strong and eternal connection to something outside myself. I think we will be smart enough to miss that feeling as we “evolve” technologically. And I think that the center of our beings will still call out for something that only God can satisfy.

I won’t mind robot help with the dog-walking, though!