Most of us have probably heard the saying, “Technology is great…when it works right.” What that means is that when it’s functioning properly, technology (computers, smart phones, etc.) is a great tool. But when it isn’t functioning properly, technology can become the biggest aggravation imaginable. For this reason, many computers and computer software companies utilize something called “automatic updates” to keep their equipment and programs running smoothly and correctly.
How “updating” is supposed to work is that the user sets the time that is convenient or acceptable for the update to take place. However, my experience is that isn’t always the case. It might be that the computer is turned off or isn’t connected to the internet when the update is to happen. There can be many different reasons, but the transfer of new information, the update, doesn’t take place when scheduled. Thus, the next time the computer is turned on or is connected to the internet, the update automatically begins, sometimes at a not-so-convenient time, thus causing frustration because the equipment isn’t usable until the update process is complete.
The other issue I’ve discovered with an “update” is that at times it will change how things appear on the screen or it will change how something functions. Again, frustration abounds as the “user” must re-learn how things work and how to do what they need to do. On one hand, automatic updates are great. On the other hand, automatic updates can be a real pain in the neck.
Sometimes I wish our faith came with automatic updates. You know, when new information is available from God, or when new knowledge gives new insights about how to live out faith, I wish it would just automatically download within us…and the update would take place, no fuss, no muss. Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly the way things work in our journey of faith. No, usually there’s a fair amount of praying and struggling, wondering and wrestling that goes on within a person as “updates” are made in our hearts and souls.
In my personal quiet-time I’m reading from the Old Testament prophets. They were bringing a faith “update” from God. But the people of God weren’t interested in an update on living God’s way. They just wanted to keep on living with the unhelpful and even unfaithful behaviors and patterns that were actually taking them further away from God. Yet God was pleading for the people to realize there was a better way.
In some ways you could say Lent is a time of focusing on updates for our faith. Lent is an intentional time of listening for God’s voice and Spirit speaking to us and nudging us onward on this journey. It’s a time of asking deep questions and seeking to grow in our understanding of who God is and how God desires us to live our faith. A question I often ask during Lent is, “Am I following Jesus more closely this year than I was last year?” or “Am I reflecting more of Jesus in my life this year than last year?” Sometimes it’s hard to answer that question, but then when I think about my faith journey of five years ago, I can see the growth more clearly.
Today, as we continue through Lent and reflect on our faith journey, there won’t be any automatic updates that come our way, but by spending intentional time with God in Bible Reading, Prayer, and other spiritual disciplines, it is likely that God will speak to each of us with the wisdom and insight that will help us walk more closely with God. The journey isn’t always easy, but it always leads us towards God.