I was talking to my mother last week about the readily available technology we have in our smart phones. She was telling me, half-joking, “I can always Google something. So if I’m in a conversation and I don’t know what they are talking about, I can quietly Google it and sound smart.” We laughed, because we have all been there. And perhaps with Google glasses we won’t even have to figure out ways to inconspicuously look down and type it in our phones.
It’s sure nice to have Google with us. In the middle of the night when my kid is sick and exhibiting symptoms I’m not familiar with, I can quickly google, “Coughing and fever, plus a rash” and get results. If I’m on a trip to Denver for business, I can google, “weather in Denver tomorrow.” Or if we are wandering about and looking for a McDonald’s with a Playplace, I can Google (not while driving, of course!), “McDonald’s with a Playplace near me.” I can actually speak it into Google and it comes up with info. The same goes for hours for my favorite barber shop, the closest Starbucks, or how to change the headlight in a Chevy Blazer (my brother did that and it saved my parents lots of money on repairs).
But as much as I like all of this technology and as much as I really don’t want to back to the 1950’s where you actually had to know stuff and read maps and be satisfied with looking dumb in conversations, I wonder if we are tempted to replace God with Google. I’m not trying to #JesusJuke you here. I’m speaking honestly about a very real temptation I face, particularly when I’m in trouble.
See, my inclination, when something bad comes up, when I’m uncertain, is not to get on my knees in prayer. It’s to grab my phone and type or speak and expect an answer. Sometimes this is helpful. But sometimes it’s a dangerous crutch, a rabbit trail for answers that Google can’t produce. Worse yet, the little god in my pocket gives me the illusion of being in control. I can solve this. I’m smart. I have tools that can give me answers.
This is why the words, Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10) should hit our hearts with a thud. Be still means to stop thinking, processing, figuring out, wondering, scheming, and yes, Googling (that’s the Greek translation) for answers. Be still means to stop phoning friends, stop texting, stop panicking and to just be quiet and listen to God. Oh if we could learn this in our generation. I fear that we are so dependent, so given to the illusion of being our own little gods that we have forgotten the art of silence, solitude and worship. I struggle with this mightily.
Why must we be still to know God? Because the act of silence, of prayer, of not creating our own answers is in and of itself an act of humble, subservient, worship. We’re saying, “Yep, I’m really not in charge here. I’m not God. He is.” And in that moment of despair, of weakness, we find God. We know Him. That’s why Paul says that when we are weak, we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Imagine the folly of God’s own people, redeemed by His grace in Christ, running around with their smart phones acting as if they can run their own lives. From a theological and logical standpoint, it’s pretty silly. And yet that’s the life we subscribe to. That’s the life I often live.
So we must pray, Lord, help me to be still. Help me to resist the idolatry of technology, to stop, listen, and learn. Help me to query you first for answers, not Google.