Tuesday, January 17, 2012

17th January

Well I reckon this miniature cow is quite at ease in the grounds of my nearby stately home. I understand they were purchased in order to keep the coarser grass down that sheep tend to leave. So that means there should be no concern about becoming Sunday lunch anytime soon! But there’s no way it could understand anything of that danger anyway. And wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow switch off from all of our concerns and simply chill. Resting under a magnificent cedar, enjoying the winter sunshine without a care in the world must be quite a wonderfully peaceful life... for a couple of hours maybe, and then I’d start pining for 21st century technology. Or would I? Sometimes I think that a simpler life would be great, let’s get rid of the car, open up the garden as an allotment, install solar panels and slow right down. But then I decide that Spotify music streaming and it’s ilk are really quite attractive, and I do enjoy my Kindle book reader and, oh yes, my laptop gets some serious usage all the time. But so often technology comes with a hidden price tag. And I’m not just thinking financial. Yes this stuff is actually quite addictive and the more gadgets that come our way, the more they seem almost non optional. They seem to suck us into a very demanding world.

1997 I fired up my first dial-up internet connection and my leisure time has not been the same since. I remember when our eldest kids were very young we went 3 years with no TV. I don’t remember VHS being available then so no home movies even and basically a home without a screen of any description. My music was all on cassette tape which had rubbish quality. Radio was available but little used in my home. Mobile phones didn’t exist, except in Star Trek movies. Yet despite the complete lack of just about everything that seems so essential to life today, I think back to that time of life and remember it being so very special. We spent time as a family, doing ‘family things’. Essentially just enjoying one another’s company. Almost every activity was relational and invaluable. I really think the jury’s still out on Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of it, as to whether they are overall a force for good or damaging to close relationships. In some ways it reminds of how a keen photographer might view the world… always through the camera lens. But now far more see life primarily through the small screen of mobile devices. In many ways it feels like a very different way we live compared to even a dozen years or so ago. And the consequences of social engineering, on such a global scale, are presumed to be beneficial with little more consideration than the pursuit of profit and innovation as primary motivation. I’m not sure I really disagree with that conclusion, but it’s still a big and quite radical change we see and only time can really tell.

But my personal life has changed radically over the past few months in a totally different way. I shared every part of my life with my wife and now I share very little with anybody. And that provokes a real challenge to my faith journey. Do I really believe that God is working for good in every area of my life? That’s what the Bible says. But is it true? I have to trust that it is, of course, though how I see things always needs careful consideration. Do I see the void, which Jane filled, as permanent emptiness in my life and painful reminder of loss? Or do I see a newly opened space waiting to be filled with a brand new adventure… I’m not quite there yet but if I’m to move on I know how I have to see the future. I cannot live in the past no matter how good it was.

It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks or so and I’m thinking of buying myself a present as if from Jane. Last year she contributed towards my Sony Vaio laptop, the year before I was presented with a Nintendo DS. Both of these have found hours of use almost every single day. Is this the year that Apple gains a new customer? The jury’s still out I’m afraid!

1 John 2:15-17 ‘Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.’ (NLT)

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