Monday, September 1, 2014

I wish I could FaceTime God

Author's note: This post originally appeared on, and is gratefully used with permission.

I wish I could FaceTime God.

Over here in twenty-first-century Africa, as long as my power is on and my internet is not having a grumpy day, I am still able to “phone home.” Mornings are out because of that pesky time zone issue. But when my day is done and I sit on my locally made furniture in my pajamas, frizzy hair embodying a little of my frizzy, exhausted brain, my mom is still feeling perky. And somehow, when the rest of my day feels disconnected and I am wondering if I am tired for good reasons, I still want to go where everybody knows my name. Or at least my family does. And tonight, when for one reason or another extra moisture is building up around the edges of my eyes from the questions in my heart, I wish I could FaceTime God.

Perhaps I would press His contact information, feel that familiar dialing anticipation—will He pick up? (Of course!) Will this be a good time? (Of course!)—and sense that lopsided smile cross my face when that strange tone indicates success: I’m getting through. “I’m so glad you called!” He might say. “I was just thinking about you!”

“As was I,” I would grin. “What are you up to?” I doubt he would be headed to Target, like my sister, or out fixing a car in the garage, like my Dad. So perhaps He would relay some of His godly activities: not the confidential ones, of course, but the coolest sunrise He laid His brush to that day; or the funniest, cutest thing this one kid prayed; or that precious, intimate moment when He carried someone to Heaven and they finally got to feel how much He loved them, to physically encounter His touch. Maybe I would see that compassion as He talked about a tough time one of his kids was enduring, but how great it was going to be when they knew the whole story.

I would see the unearthly FaceTime glow on His face (nope, considerably more than a FaceTime glow), and be able to read His expressions and see what He was thinking; to sense that uncontainable joy He always has, that peace that everything does indeed work out all right in the end, because He made it that way.

“So what have you been up to, sweetheart?” He might say. He is so good at that, I’ve seen. In the Bible, He is always asking questions to which He already fully knows the answer. He seems to affirm, as John Calvin has written,“True wisdom consists in two things: Knowledge of God and Knowledge of Self”—that as I understand this lens (my heart) through which I see Him, I understand Him more, and vice versa. Perhaps He might say, “Why are you downcast?” or “What do you want me to do?” or all of those other questions He asked millennia ago. Maybe He would look in my eyes and say, as I am now fond of asking, “How is your heart?” Or perhaps He would ask me my very own question.

At any rate, as we talked, I anticipate I would have one of those moments when I really am so glad I called: When I want to reach through the screen and say, Thank you for understanding me. Thank you for loving me like this. Thank you for having a minute to talk. And thank you for letting me see your lovely face that I miss so much; thank you for being who You are. You amaze me.

Now, I know that this theologically flattens the unlimited dimensions of our great God. When I think of Isaiah 6, I feel sheepish that I would want to confine God to Apple technology. When I think of the Holy Spirit, I know He is in all ways infinitely superior to any handheld device. When I think of Him being the Word, speaking the Word, I have no small trepidation even imagining putting words into His mouth. When I think that we live by faith and not by sight, I remember that the relationship I hold with the Creator of the Universe is far more astonishing and valuable than anything I glimpse with these eyes, so tethered to their planet and its physical laws. I know that His sheep know His voice, and they do not need FaceTime.

And yet—sometimes, perhaps in weakness, I want to FaceTime God.

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