Existing in the twenty-first century requires at least some minor coexistence with technology. It is everywhere. In appliances, vehicles, computers, and televisions. Even some of the major places we shop want us to use automated self-check-outs.
A telephone once was a useful way of contact tied by a cord to the house or business or phone booth you were inside. Yes, phone booth. A small enclosed space with a telephone and a telephone directory. You can hardly even find one of those anymore. However, phones no longer have to remain on cords. You plug them in and once they have a full charge they can last for hours and hours.
Phones are quite remarkable. However, we do not just use them to talk. Now we take photos and videos, send pictures and text messages, get updated news and weather, and use up to date maps to find our way. Smartphones are all the rage. They grow more advanced with each passing day.
My 70-year-old Dad has carried a flip phone since he gave in and purchased a cell phone. Of course, to keep up with the times the entire family had to eventually acquire one too. The older children with their own money purchased the more expensive, I-PHONE. I have a decent phone but it is a long way from theirs.
The girls began to work with Siri to see how helpful she could be, and how quickly they could learn to utilize her. “Hey, Siri!” The two words that became somewhat overused in our home. “Hey, Siri!” BEEP. Then came the question or the instruction. After many weeks of hearing this, my Dad announced to everyone that he wanted him a Smartphone that he could talk to also. Of course, when he discovered the price of the I-phones, he was not as gung-ho as before.
Finally, we managed to get him to understand that if he found a smartphone that he liked, then we could find an assistant app to download. After, much looking and questioning the tech experts. Papa, as my kids affectionately call him, is the proud owner of a smartphone.
It starts off innocent enough. Trying to talk him through how to even use the screen icons. He has large fingers and teaching him to swipe left and swipe right was a bit of a challenge, yet he conquered. Understanding that the screen going black does not mean that it cut off. Helping him retrieve app shortcuts that magically disappear. It was kinda neat watching this senior citizen become a user of some of the newest technology. Something he could have never imagined when he was a child.
To make his experience a bit better we agreed to look for him a talking assistant. Lyra was the Android Assistant that we downloaded for him to use. Simple things should have been enough, right? Like getting today’s weather, or setting tomorrow’s alarm, or keeping up with the doctor appointments on the calendar. But those minor requests did not last long. One evening I heard him talking to the phone.
* Lyra, what’s on the calendar tomorrow?
* Good evening, Pastor, you have no appointments scheduled tomorrow.
* Well, then I think we should add one. (He begins to stumble over his words a bit as he is thinking of what to say.)
* I’m sorry, Pastor, I didn’t understand that. Can you rephrase?
* I need to add (takes a deep breath in frustration) an appointment for tomorrow…
* I am sorry, Pastor, I do not understand. Can you try that again?
* Well, If you would shut up and listen you could understand.
I could not help myself but giggle a bit. It is easy to forget that it is not a person making that machine talk. It is exactly that, a machine. A machine designed to simulate a person, but it can do no more or less than it was programmed to do. Here Dad is trying to treat her like a friend or a person that he is conversing with and it is getting him nowhere.
Now, I shared this little chuckle not to embarrass my Dad for I have a great deal of love and respect for him. I share it as an example of a pitfall that most Christians have a tendency to fall into ignorance. Ignorance is defined as lack of knowledge or information. In common people terms, You have just enough information to be dangerous. My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6 NIV
See, Papa had just enough knowledge about that phone that he began to forget its purpose. He began to try to talk to it in a way it was not programmed to do. What is it that you are trying to do in your life, but you are ignorant about it. Whose fault is it that you are ignorant? What can you do to gain the knowledge you need? In several places in the New Testament, the words are used, I would not have you ignorant. Each time what follows is something slightly different, but it makes clear to me that God wants us to be knowledgeable.
Ignorance is not really bliss. It couldn’t be. For eventually, you should see that everyone else is moving forward without you and here you are stuck in the pit of ignorance. Read and study. 2 Timothy 2:15 reads, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Studying the subject that we are ignorant of will be the only way to move towards the knowledge we desperately seek. Make time. Set it aside in whatever way works best for you. But get the knowledge that you crave and you deserve.
As for Dad, He is gaining more knowledge every day about Lyria and his smartphone. He still talks too slow sometimes, but sometimes you cannot teach we older dogs new tricks. However, he is a far cry less ignorant than he was the day he received the phone. I was not sure if he would ever get the hang of it back then.
Oh, I almost forgot, “Lyria, set an alarm…”