When I look around today in almost any context, I might think that ‘staying connected’ is a key value in the lives of almost everyone. Sadly, that would be based on incomplete research on my part. It would be based on how often all of us are connected to devices that give us the sense of being connected.
I am as guilty of being attached to my devices as anyone. (Ask anyone who knows me?) They are great tools and to some degree, they do allow me to connect with people in my life to touch base via text, email, and the plethora of social media available to us.
What I need to always keep in mind is this: Devices only give me a snippet of a moment in time in the life of the person sending or receiving the message.
In some ways, the devices can give us the illusion of relationship, but I am clear that they never truly satisfy me in the way a leisurely conversation over coffee can do with a good friend. That time face-to-face gives me a much greater depth of knowledge and understanding about what is happening within that person’s heart, mind, and spirit.
It can do so because I get to see the facial expressions and body language that even Face Time and Skype do not fully satisfy. I also get a longer period to listen and share versus a snippet. It increases my discernment. I can also actually touch that person. There really isn’t a substitute for a good hug, is there?
Now don’t misunderstand, I am not bashing devices.
I am more concerned about how easy it is for us to lose connection with one another. I know we can all point to busy schedules and demands of many kinds. (I know I can even though I am retired.) When I listen to a group of people talking about their lives, it can almost sound as if we are competing to see whose schedule is the busiest or most demanding.
The risk for each of us when we do not have true relational connection is that we become more vulnerable.
Vulnerable? I know you’re thinking that relationships increase the risks because they involve some level of vulnerability.
Yes, that’s all true, but the lack of relational connection opens us up to a rather long list of things which weaken our faith, allow us to become deceived, and increase our independence from others as well as God. What we need is healthy interdependence and accountability in order for our lives to experience growth.
We also need it in our ministries and churches. We can become so busy building a God given ministry that we lose track of the condition of our hearts, our spirits, and our walk with the Lord.
I love the book of Nehemiah. It gets tucked back there in the Old Testament and some might not even notice the treasures God has tucked inside.
The theme of Nehemiah is the Lord’s protection of His people and the need for their faithfulness in keeping the law (Torah) and in worship. Things were a mess back in 445 B.C. in Jerusalem. (I guess times have not changed much!)
Israel had been in exile and the walls and city of Jerusalem were in rubble. Nehemiah was raised up as a governor to lead the people in the hard work of renewing their commitment to covenant faithfulness via political power. Ezra was alongside and rose up as a priest and a teacher to remind the people of the truth and principles they had forsaken prior to exile.
Nehemiah went out to survey the damage under cover of darkness. Wise man! You can’t correct something without understanding what needs to be changed, rebuilt, or handled in some way. He didn’t need any distractions or naysayers distracting or discouraging him.
He saw the task ahead of him and the exiles that had returned was enormous. If you look at the story, you see Nehemiah was not only wise, but also consistently prayerful as an approach to problem solving. He knew there was a connection with God that needed to happen along with the work.
The people in the story had lost connection with: God, each other, and their true identity.
Does that relate to 2016?
I know I keep using the word connection, but what do I mean? To connect if I use the word as a verb means to become joined, to pin or fasten together, to place or establish in relationship, or to have or establish rapport.
If I look at connection as a noun, it means a level of personal intimacy, community, or something that connects or transports.
I might like to blame devices for the lost connection, but that would actually be only a symptom and not hit the real issues. That would be too easy even though we do need to be aware of our ‘connection’ with them.
The real issues are the things that open us up to doubts, fears, loneliness, anxiety, lack of trust, misunderstanding and so much more.
How do I (how do we) face those in this time of uncertainty and turmoil that we see on the opposite side of the world, in the midst of our churches or ministries, and even in our own neighborhoods or homes?
I will share what the Lord showed me through Nehemiah back here on Wednesday.