Thursday, February 1, 2018

Notifications

“But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:11-16 NIV)

It has been known for some time that developers of smartphones and their apps intentionally sought (and continue to seek) ways to make them irresistible to users. One of the early developers said notifications were a key component in their strategy. These, of course, are the things that notify users of a recently received message, a new tweet, comment on a post, etc. So they designed them to immediately attract our attention through a number of ways—sounds like the “ding” or bird chirp, vibration of the phone, a text box appearing on the home screen, or a red circle appearing on the app icon with a number. All intentionally designed to grab our attention. And do they ever!

Most of us have our phones face up and close by. How many of us immediately turn our attention to the screen when some notification comes through? I have been in many one-to-one conversations where people, even as they talk, look away to check a notification. I have done it as well, particularly when I get a text message. There is almost an instinctive pull from our phone notifications, regardless of what is happening right in front of us or around us.

I have been thinking about this for awhile and had to laugh when I came across this Psalm and this sentence: “So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” Obviously, the Psalmist had no idea of any tech devices as we experience them today, but I wonder if the Lord, given His Word is timeless, is not saying something here about our own context.

Notice that the people were not listening or willing to hear. They were too into their own lives and what was important to them. Is it really any different today? This brings me back to the notifications. Are we as in tune with the notifications to us from the Spirit of the Lord as we are to those from our phone? When we have a sense of the Lord saying something, do we immediately turn our attention to it?

If you are unfamiliar with what I mean, here are some examples: Recently, a student told me she felt the Lord wanted her to pray for a newly-arrived international student. As I was praying last week in a small group, the Lord impressed on me to get together with a certain student. And years ago, at a student retreat, I felt the Lord saying to give my Bible to a student. Just as the Lord continued to give notifications to the Israelites, hoping they would listen, I am convinced He continues to give us notifications as well. The question is, are we willing to give them the same attention as to the ones coming through our devices?

Today, consider how attuned you are to the notifications from the Lord regarding your life. Does it match the attention to those from your phone? If not, then realize, just like the Israelites, you are missing out on the blessings the Lord desires to give you.

© Jim Musser 2018

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