Digitizing

First off, I had to double check to make sure the word, “digitizing” was, in fact, a word.  Alas, it is so I may resume this brief post…

I’ve given much thought to the concept of digitizing my life over the last few years, as technology has become more advanced and devices have become more accessible and portable. I’ve wrestled with the pro’s and con’s of the change, weighing that unique feeling of paper which accompanies reading a physical book, the act of writing long-hand in a journal or a notebook, and the memory benefits of keeping a hard-copy calendar.  I’ve debated the sound quality of digital music and wondered if pictures were as meaningful in an electronic scrapbook versus an online one. But I decided the convenience and ecological benefits merited at least the attempt.

So I’m transitioning my life, so to speak, into a digital format.  I’ve started reading my Bible using the Accordance software for iOS (amazing tool for bible nerds…www.accordancebible.com).  This has been the most difficult, I must admit. I feared something reverent might be lost in digital Scripture. But my buddy Chris, who’s a pastor, advised me that he’s pretty sure God is in the pixels as well.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised- the electronic  tools have made it a smoother transition than I had imagined, and I rather like the ease of toggling among translations and the convenience of jumping to specific passages referenced in church (although I fear onlookers in the pews will be convinced I’m playing TriviaCrack rather than prayerfully listening to the sermon).

I was an “early adopter” for Kindle, so most of my books have been digital for years now.  I’ve even subscribed to the paper on my iPad and a few magazines.  The technology have gotten so good in those areas that it really does mimic the reading of those paper formats in a digital environment.

I finally relinquished the whimsical hope of keeping a paper calendar, realizing that keeping up with all the entries of work, school, 5 kids’ activities, and a busy wife required the helpful tricks of being able to embed maps to parties and practices and attach key phone numbers.  In addition, changing dates and times is easier electronically, and avoids the mess of ink or graphite smudges present in a paper calendar.  Also, considering my mild case of ADD (what was that….hmm…so shiny!) the ability to set alarms for calendar entries helps me remember important events.

The discovery of a strong journaling app, closed the door on the last remnant of a paper world (I owe this to my pal Michael, an app afficianado).  It’s called Day One (available for $5 on iTunes) and is a terrific, password-protected journaling app that allows one to add pictures to your entries as well as voice-dictate them, in case you want to catch a passing thought or idea.

An obvious negative with digitizing my life is the use of electricity; the frequent need for charging and the risk of device damage in the outdoors.  But I guess we can agree on some sort of “universe-trade off”, since I’m (hopefully) saving trees by using less paper?  Also, the studies are still out on the damage done to our brains by frequent screen use.  I guess I will have to rely on the amazing, adaptive potential of the human species here.   As for music, my inner hipster will always favor vinyl, but there is a wonderful convenience of carrying your music library in your pocket (same goes for your reading library).

Either way, I’m enjoying this new approach to life.  It might last, it might not.  But it’s fun to shake things up a little bit. Now let’s hope there are no power outages coming soon.  Then I’m certainly in for it.

Purpose?

A simple search on Amazon for books on “life’s purpose” results in 205,493 entries.  That’s over 200 THOUSAND books written to help readers discover or learn how to live into, their purpose in life.  Clearly, this is a hot market.

But I’m not surprised, really.  I mean, I have often pondered (and still do) about the purpose of my life.  Don’t you?  What are we really here for? What is my purpose in life?  Most of the time this question centers on vocation.  Is this job my calling?  Am I meant to have professional employment or is being a full-time parent my true vocation? We all grapple with this deeply important question; it seems to gnaw at our souls and drive us into a deeper reflection on our existential reality.

Sometimes, people find their purpose early.  I recently participated in the Call Committee for a new pastor at my church, and I was amazed at these candidates who claimed they confidently knew their calling by the age of 17.  17?  At 17, my biggest existential dilemma was whether to wear a Motley Crue or a Poison t-shirt to school that day.  What can one truly know that early in one’s life?  Alas, the Lord works in mysterious ways…

But this morning I was sitting on the porch with a cup of tea (instead of coffee, because I’m a recent convert to the PBS show, “Downton Abbey”; drinking tea makes me feel smarter and more sophisticated).  I was meditating on and reading the Book of Romans (the wisdom of this letter is for another day. I truly love it) when a passage leapt out at me:  “Likewise, my brothers*, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (emphasis mine) Romans 7: 4 (ESV).

And so, for Christians, there it was.  So easy.  So succinct and simple–  “in order that we may bear fruit for God”.  Paul tells us that this is our purpose!  Whatever form it takes vocationally, whatever “flavor”, bearing fruit for God is our purpose.  And what is that fruit, exactly? So as long as we are loving one another, caring for the poor and needy, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, we are bearing the fruit for God.

So release yourself from the anxiety that often comes with seeking your purpose because, as faithful servants, our purpose is already provided for us–to bear fruit for God.  I close with a verse from Colossians, which I keep taped to my work phone:  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (3:23).  Go forth, friends, and bear fruit for God- the Spirit will lead you to the specifics; your conscience will guide you.    Amen.

*or brothers and sisters