If your caller ID says the police department is calling, it’s probably a good idea to pick up. With Chandler not here now, it kind of changes the dynamic of the things that run through my mind before I answer such a call. Sort of like every time you hear sirens if you’re a parent, you do a kid check in your mind. Don’t you? And then say a quick prayer for whoever it is that is in trouble. Chandler was hit by a car on his bike when he was nine, so you never know.
But when I answered the police department phone call last night, I received a recorded message about a tsunami warning for this morning, right about now, actually. It was not an evacuation notice; just a suggestion that this would not be a good day for that early morning swim. “STAY OUT OF THE WATER,” was exactly what they said.
It says something, however, about the means that police, fire, and other emergency services now have of connecting with just about everyone immediately and individually. I’m not sure whether you have this where you live, but we have an emergency alert system that sends a text message to every cell phone preceded by a loud, annoying horn sound you didn’t even know your phone was capable of making. That’s happened two or three times and is a great tool for abductions or runaway criminals. If every cell phone on the freeway suddenly gets a description of your car and license, I doubt you’re going to get very far.
It’s no secret that technology has connected us like never before. We can all now access instant eyewitness reports from anywhere in the world. It’s now possible for Christ to return to one particular place on earth and yet “every eye will see Him.”
Yet many argue that all this connecting hasn’t brought us any closer together. It’s virtual, not a real connection. I would beg to differ a little with that. There are some ways in which we know some of you more intimately than your flesh and blood friends, because the anonymity of the Internet makes it less risky for us to share our deepest secrets. Some of you have revealed sexual identity and same sex attraction issues to me when your closest friends do not know you’re struggling with this. That’s significant. We all need safe places to be honest, but often our normal circles of friends — and, sadly, even our local churches — do not provide that.
Our real relationships should be connecting us at a deep level, and honest sharing should be a goal for all our relationships, but it may be that online is a place where we can start to be honest more easily, because we are talking to people who are not, nor will they ever be, in our everyday circle of friends.
A number of years ago, Marti developed a very close relationship via email with a woman I met through the Catch. She was a waitress from Ohio who wrote to me about how badly Christians tip — how none of her co-workers wanted the Sunday noon shift because of the people who come from church who are demanding, and hardly ever leave anything behind. The one that took the cake was the group that spent almost a hundred dollars, and left only a fake dollar bill with a gospel tract on the other side.
I don’t remember how it started, but Marti and Kay developed an email relationship that went on for some time. We’ve even talked about publishing those emails. Kay had a sharp mind and a keen sense of humor so those exchanges have a depth and hilarity that I think anyone would enjoy and benefit from. Kay was a lover of roses, and though cancer took her away from us, Marti has roses in our garden she cares for regularly that she calls Kay’s roses. Theirs was a deep and lasting connection though they never met in person. True connecting is a soul thing and can happen with anyone, anywhere and by any means.
Now let me issue a tsunami warning, however, at the end of this. I would not pursue a relationship like this that might harm in any way your relationship with your spouse. Any relationship you can’t share openly with your partner is a signal of an approaching tsunami.