Are You Talking to Me?

BluetoothWell, it happened again. I recently found myself browsing through the lawn and garden section at a department store. As I examined the large selection of lawnmowers, rakes, and chainsaws, I thought I heard someone say something. I glanced up and spotted an employee sauntering down the aisle. He was “sort of” looking in my direction, so I was not entirely sure if he had welcomed me to his department or if he had been mumbling some obscure “shop talk” into his radio.

A few minutes later I made my way to the sporting goods department. As I turned the corner between the gun supplies and the fishing tackle, I came face-to-face with another guy standing in the middle of the aisle. He also muttered something, but it was unintelligible. Was he talking to me? I couldn’t be sure. I was starting to develop a complex. Do I really look like I need help? Is my hair sticking up? Is my zipper…? Surely not.

This guy could have been an employee, but I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that he had technology clamped to his ear. Maybe he was talking on the phone.

Most of us complain about people who constantly chatter on their phones. That lady who prematurely jumped the four-way stop was involved in an animated conversation on her smartphone. The guy holding up the line at the restaurant was distracted by an obviously important incoming text. And all that racket during church on Sunday morning? That was the latest ringtone downloaded by a techie who has not yet figured out how to activate the “vibrate” function.

We all have to take the occasional phone call while out in public. I get that. It’s just irritating when people are so engrossed in their own little world that they forget that others are also sharing the oxygen on this planet.

I have, however, discovered something much more irritating than listening to some oblivious individual chatter incessantly into a cell phone.

It’s called Bluetooth.

If you are not familiar with Bluetooth, it is the technology that enables people to talk on the phone without actually holding the handset up to their face. If you use Bluetooth, all you have to do is attach a Star Trek-like device to your ear, shove your phone into your pocket, and just start talking. Here is my problem with Bluetooth—I never know if someone is addressing me, if they are talking on the phone, or just mumbling to themselves.

The guy in the sporting goods section might have been talking to me, or he could have been engaged in a romantic conversation with his sweetheart. Either way, I ignored him, hoping that I did not come across as stuck-up. Which would be worse…to butt uninvited into a private conversation or to brush off an employee who wanted to sell me a fishing pole?

I have no problem with technology. In fact, I love it. Technology allows us to stay in constant communication with others. At any moment in time, we can know exactly what all of our friends around the world are doing. We can pick up the phone for a short conversation or check in quickly on Facebook or Twitter. When we have friends, we like to know what they are doing, and technology makes that possible.

Well, did you know that God also wants you to check in with Him?

We might be tempted to assume that God does not have time for us. After all, doesn’t He have a universe to run? Isn’t He more interested in things like natural disasters, terrorism, and national security?

Maybe He does take an interest in all those things, but when I read the Bible, I find a command to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is not an option. It is a command. If God commands me to pray constantly, don’t you think I should do it?

The good thing about prayer is that we do not need an unlimited long distance plan. Texting capabilities are unnecessary, and we certainly don’t need Bluetooth. We just need to talk to Him. Constantly. All the time.

Just do me a favor. If you are “praying without ceasing” in public, try to keep it down a little. I just might think you’re talking to me.

This article appeared in the Bremen Enquirer under my monthly column entitled Connections: Relating the Bible to Everyday Life on May 7, 2015.

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