One of the best inventions of the last thirty years has got to be text messaging. Ever since somebody texted “Merry Christmas” to somebody else in 1992 (Look it up…it’s a real thing), we’ve been sending each other L.O.L.’s and heart-eye emojis and grocery lists more and more each year. But with all great inventions, there are drawbacks.
For instance, most of us have experienced those times when autocorrect makes us say something we would NEVER say to another person, whether to their faces or on a screen. Our words are changed just enough to render the communication somewhere ranging between the ridiculous to outright scandalous.
And there are those times when we receive a text that we just can’t decipher. Sure, the text is made up of actual words that construct a sentence, but there’s an unknown meaning behind the words. Did she mean to make it all-caps or is she yelling at me? Why did he end that text with a period? Does that mean he’s irritated? And what do I do with a text that just says: okay… It’s a short reply, complete with the cliff-hanger of all punctuation, the ellipsis, but how do I interpret its underlying implications? It has the smell of annoyed sarcasm to me, but I could be wrong.
As much as I appreciate the convenience of texting, there’s really no replacing face-to-face conversations for getting to the bottom of the real and actual truth. Facial expressions, heavy pauses, and our tone of voice all reveal how we actually feel.
But what about those times when I can’t have in-person talks? With kids away for college and busy with their hectic schedules, a text is a welcome gift for a mama who might be a 6-hour drive away. So when my phone vibrates with the news that one of my beloved children has sent me a text, I can read even the vaguest statements with an extra ounce of understanding. The reason for this insight into these short missives is because I know their hearts. Because I’m so in tune with their motivations and their insecurities and their life experiences, I can feel sure of what they’re trying to say if it happens to be a bit unclear.
What if we could do that with every person we meet? Just like in the story from 1 Samuel 16, when God tells Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God has the unique ability to look past what I’m intentionally or unintentionally revealing about myself on the outside to peer deep inside my heart to see what makes me ME.
That realization is both freeing and frightening, a breath of fresh air and a reason to blush. But that is Who God is. In Romans 5, we learn the almost unimaginable truth about God’s love: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He knows us better than we know ourselves, but He loves us anyway.