My phone died today.
Well, that might be an exaggeration. I guess I should say that the ability to use all the normal functions on my phone died today.
I’ve been having issues over the last few months with sending group texts; couple this with having a charging port that hardly works, and a broken speaker that leads me to not being able to hear most notifications that my phone would normally alert me to, my phone is really on the decline. I can live with the charging port and the unseen notifications, that’s fine.
Sometimes the messages go through. Sometimes the messages take hours to send. Rarely they’ll go through all together. I figured out a trick with the long group texts where if I screenshot the message, then send it as a picture it will go through. Regardless of what does and doesn’t work, and needless to say, this is not how it should be happening. What’s causing me far more annoyance and difficulty is the messages not sending. Over the last few days, the problem has somehow managed to get worse. The messages now look like they successfully sent on my end (says the checkmark next to the text), but the recipient will never have gotten them, and this is only on some of the messages that I send. If my phone is going to have a problem, the least it could do is to be consistent. This whole problem is frustrating, awkward, and inconvenient.
I know, there’s many solutions to this problem: buy a new phone, seek tech support, or even just call people individually. I’m stubborn though and refuse to spend money on a new phone unless it’s shooting sparks out of the cracked screen (forgot to mention that).
I even tried a factory reset of my phone today in hopes that it might resolve all the issues. Unfortunately I don’t think it really did anything other than create the annoyance of having to resubmit all my passwords and login credentials to apps or websites I frequent.
The next step would be to reset my sim card information…blah…technical details…blah blah….boring things….what’s the point of all this moaning about how hard my life is because of my phone’s slow descent into madness?
I would agree with someone that may be reading this and thinking, why should I care? Except I don’t agree, because to me this feels like a very real problem with potentially bad side effects. For some reason, I feel wildly isolated and disconnected from not only the people I’ve sent these (unread?) messages to, but also in some way disconnected from the whole world. Even though I still have access to virtually everything I did before this malfunction, for some reason the lack of 100% functionality makes me feel this way.
Why is my phone causing me so much uneasiness and discontentment? Why, as someone that has had a spiritual experience with God, do I not feel these same kinds of things when I’m not talking to or sourcing myself from God? Should I feel guilty because I don’t feel the same way? Should I feel unsure of how strong my faith actually is? I don’t think the answer to either of those questions is yes. I think it actually presents an opportunity for growing in my faith, and reprioritizing what is actually important to me in my daily life.
God is not flashy. God is not noisy. God doesn’t send push notifications. God is not a cell phone. God’s far more.
God desires relationship and intimacy with us, but is also respectful of our free will and allows us the time and power of choice to come into that relationship of our on volition. Similar in many ways to the what I think of when I think of a parental relationship: with my four year old I’ve learned that no matter how hard I push, he just doesn’t share the same interests in hobbies and entertainment that I do. I don’t push it onto him, but I do harbor a hope that he’ll eventually take the same enjoyment that it from I do. God sits and waits for us, and hopes we’ll join him.
God is up at 6:00 am hoping we’ll join him for early morning coffee; instead we often choose to sleep in. God is in our passenger seat as we speed to work because we took too long to throw our lunch into a container; instead we choose to continue speeding as we tightly grip the steering wheel we’re hunched over. God walks in tandem with us as we mow the lawn, and instead of talking to him over the din of blades cutting grass, we turn up the sound of our newest podcast, to drown out the noise of the mower and God’s voice.
The possibility for connection is always right there and yet I choose to remain unaware. And because of the times I choose to remain unaware in those small moments, the moments slowly amount to a stagnation of relationship and the drying up of hearing his voice.
How do I develop and fear losing my ability to talk with God and have relationship with him, in the same way that I fear and am caused anxiety by a piece of technology not working correctly? Or how can I learn from the ways my daily life flows and functions around my phone?
My first thought is to remember the good times in talking to God, just like I remember how when I initially got my phone the ease and consistency of it working as it was supposed to.
A recurring theme in the book of Genesis is forgetfulness. God and the ways he has been faithful to his children and how he has come through for them in their times of hardship. For example, after the flood, Noah plants a vineyard and eventually finds himself in a drunken stupor. In my opinion, he most likely did this to avoid the trauma of the events of the flood. He chose the easy way out, the comforting way out, rather than maintain relationship with the God that warned him of, and protected him throughout the course of the flood. Regardless of whether or not the flood story is a word for word account, or some creative liberties were taken to create a more interested parable, the theme of remain close to what has been good and faithful to you rather than trying to make your own way, or believing that what has been good will not continue to be good is a goal to remember. When we enter into darkness, we must remember that our vision still works, and that the sun (in this case, hope) will always rise again. If you keep the conversation flowing between you and God, you’re now walking through the darkness with a flaming torch that provides you light, heat, and the ability to create fire. You now have a source of protection and peace until the sun does rise again; in fact, the source of protection and peace. If you stop talking to God during the darkness, your fire goes out.
My second thought is recognizing and reacting to the symptoms of not talking to God.
My life is significantly more difficult when I begin following my own path and believing my choices are the best ones for my life. It’s as though I’m malfunctioning, responding slowly, freezing up, and I need a reset; just like a cell phone when it needs to be updated or it’s becoming obsolete. When I reset though, thankfully I have a stored backup (just like my phone). My backup comes in the form of something I heard referred to as “pillars of faith” that is referred to in the old testament: in the book of Joshua, God tasks Joshua with having the twelve tribes of Israel collect twelve stones to acts as stones of remembrance for the future children of the tribes; when the future sons and daughters would ask what they meant, they would be able to be reminded of when the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground, just as God had created a path through the Red Sea for the Israelites in captivity. When I find myself in situations of needing to remember, to “back-up” or “reset” my life, I remember my own stones of remembrance, or pillars of faith as I often call them. I use these to “restore” my own settings and be returned to my fully and correctly functioning state without any bugs or errors.
My third thought is how I should respond to God in a more devoted and reliant manner than my phone.
When Apple releases a big firmware update, or even a new phone model iteration, people flock to the stores en masse. People anticipate, review and immerse themselves in the newness of the things; you could even say people rejoice over it. As technology has gained more and more ground over the years and planned obsolescence has become an increasingly used technique of these companies, so few people are happy with their old phone or software. Even though there is usually some kind of sacrifice to acquire this newness, be it the monetary sacrifice of a purchase, or the sacrifice of time in waiting for a download, people still clamor to this new thing because it’s different, better, and more capable. Are people (and I myself) really so pacified and shallow that the desire for “better” stops at wanting a better phone, a better car, a better home? Why should I not desire to upgrade myself as a person? I’m not talking about Neuralink (big pass on that), I’m talking about who I am supposed to be as a person, the identity I was created for but maybe haven’t embraced yet, or have only embraced in part. If I were to seek this upgrade, in the same way that our old phone or firmware get replaced by the newer, cooler, better thing, we should replace our old selves with new. We must be careful though not to try and craft our own firmware version, or some kind of Frankenstein of old phone parts into what may look like a cell phone. There is a trustworthy developer that we should go to, that knows know what they’re doing. If we try to attempt our own upgrades, we may just end up creating more bugs that are too numerous to crush and to resilient to kill. Plus, the manufacturer has top of the line updates and security features that will keep us up to date if we just remember to install them.
The last reason that I can think of (for this list at least) is how in the same way our phones charge to have any functionality at all, we must also charge up to be able to have functionality and serve in the same ways we’re meant to. I’m not referring to the process of sleep, or consuming calories for energy, or even a quick espresso to make myself believe that I’m less tired, I’m referring to installing a whole new battery, a secondary battery that allows more power draw and capabilities than you ever had with just one. Abiding, dwelling, being present with, meditating, or my personal favorite “walking with God in the cool of the evening”, these are all ways of filling our spiritual and most powerful battery. I’ve seen it daily in my life when I am purposefully present with God that my day goes better. The same can be said for my wife and those in my life that follow Christ. The best thing about him is that he is a perpetual motion machine, he is infinite energy, just waiting for us to plug in so that we never have to be charged back up. We don’t receive the energy if we’re not plugged in though, and that’s why spending time with him in his word, in conversation, and in walking out his ways is so important. That’s what charges us with his love and truth.