I had to answer a question my daughter gave me the other day, a question that I really never thought I would have to answer. It was about cameras. Film cameras to be specific. Recently at a garage sale I bought an old Pentax camera off an elderly gentlemen, hoping to expand my photographing skills and get in touch with my roots. So when I dusted off the old beast, threw some film in and began capturing some images the old way, my daughter was disappointed. She wanted to see the pictures I had taken, and she wanted to see right now. She was confused, angry, and decided she didn't like that camera because you couldn't see the pictures.
It got me thinking, a dangerous hobby of mine, has digital media effected our relationship with God? Is it possible that us, like my daughter, are off put that we might have to WAIT to see or hear something from God? In a time of instant gratification, fast food, instagram, and text messaging, am I becoming a more demanding and impatient person?
Could this silly old camera have awoken some long lost patience in me?
Think about it. Sunday at church, when you pray for someone who is sick, or in need, do you expect an answer right away? It only seems fitting that God should do what we want right now, seeing as everything else in our life does. If we have a phone that is not fast enough, we get rid of it. It is obsolete. If your go to restaurant slows down in their service time, you leave and never return. Is it possible that we are asking God to function like a digital camera? Is it possible that we are pointing him to what we want, pushing the button, and expecting to see a result immediately?
What I am suggesting is that unlike our smart phones, God doesn't need to keep up to the technology hype. A few years ago we were used to waiting for things in our society. We had to wait for the mail, we had to wait for our pictures to be developed, we had to wait until we were near a phone to call someone (unless you had a shoe phone). We were accustomed to waiting for things, instant gratification was a lot less instant in most cases. God doesn't change, but people and society do. We change all the time, but I think we need to remember that God doesn't change just because we do. Just because in our church circles we are trying to make church more instant, insta-church if you will, doesn't mean God will oblige. What if God likes that we have to wait for things, because it creates something better in us.
If you don't agree with the idea that God makes people wait for long periods of time for answers to prayer (yes or no answers mind you) then, SPOILER ALERT, don't read the Bible. The whole book is full of people who have to wait. Let me qualify the word "wait" as well, for those of you who think a few minutes is waiting. When God made people wait, he made them wait. We are talking generations, centuries in some cases.
I know technology has made our lives a lot easier, a lot more efficient, but it might not be making our churches and our spiritual lives that way. Perhaps we should tread with caution as we begin to change how we operate in the holy and revered and make things instant. Does church need to be like a smart phone? Does it HAVE to be something that is fast, and quick. Why cant the church be like a tree, something that develops slowly and grows deep roots. Similarly for your own life. What is the gain if God is high speed on the fastest network around? Isn't it better to develop a relationship, to nurture and grow slowly, and grow deep roots?
I fondly remember after holidays jumping in the vehicle with my mom and taking our film to the store. Whether it was film from camp, or a road trip, waiting was part of the experience. Some times if mom splurged, we got 1-HOUR photo done. A real expedited process that got all the pictures done instantly, and by instantly I mean in an hour or longer. Most of the time we would return another day to pick up the film. It was always fun flipping through the pictures to see what ones turned out, and what ones had my finger over the lens.
When you pray, remember that God might give you the 1-HOUR photo treatment, he might give you the week long wait, or you may wait for years and years and years. That's OK, because just like that film, that waiting is developing something in you.