Monday, January 28, 2019

Living a Solid State Lifestyle

You’ve probably heard the story of the parent who remembers walking six miles to and from school in knee-deep snow, uphill both ways. My childhood wasn’t that colorful, but I do remember things that most Millennials would never believe. For instance, TVs without remotes, with three channels – and tubes.

There was nothing solid about
the state of TVs like this one.
Our television sets (that’s what “TV” stands for, lest we forget) were prehistoric by today’s standards. At first we had just three channels: ABC, CBS, and NBC. In only black-and-white, no less, How did humanity survive such deprivation? Eventually, the channel options expanded to as many as 13. Apparently the “techies” of the day didn’t realize or believe the number 13 was considered by some to be unlucky. We could never have envisioned then the hundreds of channel choices we have today.

A remote control for the TV was unheard of. To change channels, we had to make the dangerous trek through deep shag carpet, reach out and turn a circular dial. Oldsters will recall we had another dial for adjusting the picture. One good thing about having just a trio of channels was we didn’t have to get up that often. Sometimes after so much turning, the channel changer would wear out, making it hard to tune in, but that’s another story.

What I remember most were the tubes that populated the back of the TV set. They came in all sizes, serving all manner of functions. Brightness, vertical and horizontal controls, contrast. The biggest one was the main TV tube with the screen. When that went out, it meant time to buy a new TV. But there were many smaller tubes; when the TV started having problems, the trick was to figure out which was the culprit.

Then, thanks to the space age, “solid state” circuitry was invented, making TV tubes obsolete. Satellite technology was applied to many household devices, opening exciting new vistas. No more replacing burnt-out tubes; they were replaced by transistors and circuit boards. Exploratory forays to the back of the TV became unnecessary. TV repairmen became collateral damage, but that was the price of progress.

Solid-state design also revolutionized radios. Fear of jostling an appliance, rendering it unworkable was eliminated. Bulkiness became a thing of the past, and we no longer had to fret over delicate handling of the devices. No more fragile tubes to jiggle around and loosen.

In Jesus’ day, of course, solid-state technology wasn’t even a figment of anyone’s imagination. But He did address the importance of what we might term, “solid-state spirituality.” Sitting on a mountainside one day, in the midst of His “sermon on the mount,” Jesus told a parable about two builders, one wise and one foolish (Matthew 7:24-27). The first chose to use a solid, rock foundation for the house he built; the other elected to build a house on sand. 

Both houses seemed stable until a storm came, bringing torrential rains and strong winds. Predictably, the house on solid rock stood firm, while the house on sand fell with a decisive, resounding crash. This story marked the culmination of Jesus’ message, summarizing His expansive admonition for people to submit to God and place their faith in Him for every aspect of life. 

We don’t have to ponder too long to arrive at an application for our own lives. Storms in life are rarely predicted. As someone has said, life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. Illnesses, financial setbacks, broken-down cars or appliances, calamities of many sorts. All have a way of turning our world upside-down. That’s when solid-state spirituality matters most.

Faith in God doesn’t insulate us from adversity. But it enables us to weather those storms, even if it means sometimes hanging on by our fingernails, until the calm returns. Those without faith have only their own resources to call upon, and often those are woefully insufficient. But our trust in the Lord enables us to pray, as the psalmist did, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly” (Psalm 102:1-2).

Often in times of trouble I’ve turned to the Psalms and found both comfort and reassurance. One of my favorites is Psalm 118:14, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” This verse is true even in quiet, peaceful times, but when the tumult returns – as happens in each of our lives, ready it or not – it serves as a reminder that God has enabled me to build my “house,” my life, upon the Rock. Anything else we turn to in life is shifting, unstable sand.

A life founded on the solid Rock, Jesus Christ, might be shaken up from time to time, but we don’t have to fear a permanent, cataclysmic crash. As I write this, a beloved member of our family is dealing with a serious health challenge. But knowing she’s in the Lord’s hands, we can trust in Him, as King David did when he wrote, “In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me” (Psalm 86:17).

What’s the state of your spirituality? Is it solid?

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