My phone stopped working earlier this week. It happened at a rather inconvenient time: I was mid-sentence in a conversation with one of our best leaders in Methodism. I tried re-dialing, I tried pleading, and then I tried threatening Siri with bodily harm. Apparently, Siri was out for the count, and didn’t even have the energy to come back with one of those smart-aleck repartees for which she has gained considerable notoriety. After consoling myself with some mild profanity, I put the gadget away and resolved to make the most out of being disconnected in a digitally connected world.
Sometimes blessings come to us in various disguises. The temporary crisis, the unexpected problem, the suddenly challenging circumstance can often unfold in serendipitous ways. Such was my experience on this particular day. For instance, I needed to convey a message to my wife Bobby and, being not far from the house, I decided to deliver it in person. Not only did we have a real midday face-to-face conversation, which almost never happens, but I got to spend an unexpected few minutes with one of my grandsons who had been ejected from school with an upper respiratory infection. I then took one of my long sermon-writing drives into the country. Uninterrupted by my phone, it was an especially productive and creative experience, and I emerged from it ahead of schedule. Driving back to the office, I pondered the possibility that the loss of my phone might have actually made me more rather than less productive.
By the time you receive this message we will have all been bombarded with another long day of non-stop news coverage of various events, including the usual hyper-partisan commentary from both sides. I’m guessing that most of us will feel as if we are careening toward a great American divide that will eventually swallow us all. I’m not suggesting that you not tune in at all, but I am urging you to find some time to tune out. The ongoing chaos of our constantly connected world holds the potential to convince us that we are not going to survive, or at least not intact. And, to be fair, there is real brokenness in our world that demands our attention. But disconnecting long enough to have a real conversation with a spouse, or some play time with a child, or an uninterrupted commune with nature, might reassure us that the noise of this day will inevitably yield to the silence of the night, the ever-lasting presence of God, and loving relationships that endure.
Rev. Don Underwood