Let’s talk about cell phones.
I’ve gotta say, I love my cell phone. It’s a great toy and a handy device that gets a lot of stuff done and gets me information faster than the blink of an eye, but do you ever stop and consider how the way we treat these tiny, metal do-everythings are really, well…odd? We stare out those bright little screens for hours on end without questioning it, and if you are ever alone in a crowded room, you can guarantee that the phone is whipped out so it looks like you are doing something important. Most people can’t successfully walk from point A to point B without checking their phone at least a dozen times (even if there has been nothing but silent inactivity for the last hour and a half) and we have a near heart attack at the realization that the battery percentage has dipped underneath the 25% mark, even though we know good and well that we will be able to charge it back to 100% as soon as we get home.
Kind of strange, isn’t it?
A little over a week ago, I was with some friends at Whataburger after Wednesday night church when the friend immediately to my left slid his phone away from himself and said, “I’m scared to check my phone.”
“Why is that?” I asked, finding the statement slightly curious.
“The battery’s at 22% and I’m scared it’ll die on me.”
I flashed my friend a mischievous grin and immediately he knew where I was heading (my passion for metaphors or elaborate analogies is no secret). “You know, you’re going to die one day, but you don’t live your life in constant fear of dying, do you?”
“I mean, no, but what if my mom calls me?” he retorted.
“What if God calls you?”
Obviously this back-and-forth banter was done purely in fun, but the short exchange did get me thinking for a while and I began to find the analogy more and more useful the more I considered it. So, for the sake of this blog post, I ask that you humor me:
Imagine your life as if it were represented by a phone’s battery, with birth starting us at 100%, while, in the short moments leading up to our death, we go from 3% to 2%, 2% to 1%, and then that final 1% finally gives way to that petrifying black screen. Luckily for us, we have a greater hope in an eternal life that follows this one, but for the purposes of this analogy I would rather limit our view so that we simply consider our life on earth: the battery charge that ticks down one percentage before the next.
The first thing you need to know about life is this: We don’t get a Battery Percentage icon at the top of our screen.
A lot of the time, we treat our phone in a manner dictated by that number we see at the top of its screen, but we don’t get that in our life. I had a nineteen-year old friend who recently died in a freak boating accident, and while I can safely say that she probably thought her life was at about an 80%, it turns out that she was at 1% without even knowing it. The reason the entire phone conversation with my friend at Whataburger even started in the first place is because he saw that tiny 22% at the top right of his screen and thought, “Oh man, this thing is going to die soon, I’d better preserve it as long as I can,” but life doesn’t grant us the luxury of knowing exactly how long our “battery” will last. I mean, even if the doctors give us three months to live, what prevents us from dying that very day if God so wills it? My friend from the boating accident, like I said, assumed that she was still fully charged and ready to go at life, but the moment she collided with that 30-foot boat, it was clear that her battery was in fact much lower than she had originally thought. God chose to keep our battery life a surprise as motivation for us to make the most of each and every moment, kind of like that cancer patient who has been given the diagnosis of just a few weeks to live. God doesn’t give us diagnoses such as these because He wants us to live every moment as if it is our last, trying to make the most of this short life we are given.
Second, I want to remind you of this: Your Settings will help lengthen your battery life.
The apps you run, your Display Settings, and the amount of storage you cling to can affect your phone’s battery life, and I would say that this is the same, in a way, for life. While it is true that we don’t know when the good Lord will call us home, it is likewise true that we can make certain efforts during our life on earth that will help preserve or lengthen our life, allowing us to maximize efficiency and productivity during the time God has given us. Whether this be non-theological things like taking care of your body or theologically-fueled motivations like helping others and spreading the Gospel, there are different ways in which we can make maximum usage of the life we are given.
Third: We don’t get to recharge our battery.
The especially funny thing about the way we treat our relationships with our phones is that we freak out when that battery percentage gets low, even though we know that we will be able to recharge it very soon! This is perhaps the most convicting part to me, because whether you like it or not, we don’t get to charge back up to 100% at life. NOW LET’S BE HONEST…you will never be more fully charged than you are right now, so make use of this battery life while you can! There’s no Fountain of Youth to serve as your outlet or phone charger, so whether you are at 86% or 2%, this is your lot, and you need to decide whether you are going to simply shut the screen off and push the phone away, or make the most of whatever remaining battery life you have left.
As a small aside, I want to take the analogy a step further: Imagine how much smart phones cost. We pay hundreds – heck, even thousands – of dollars for these things, and we dread pouring forth that money, even though we know good and well all the amazing things it will provide us with! For just a few hundred dollars, we get these little devices that are (1) rechargeable, but also (2) serve as encyclopedia-calculator-watches hybridized with a radio-television-communicators that allow you to not only access the internet but communicate with people all around the world.
Now imagine paying that same price for a phone that did all of the above things, but was not rechargeable. It had only one life, yet you had to pay the same price. Imagine how much you would treasure that single battery life, how much you would long to preserve it.
And now, I ask you to remember the price that was paid for your life: God made flesh only so that flesh could be hung unjustly from a tree, mocked and spat upon and cursed by all those around him. Jesus Christ died so that you might have a full battery, even though he knew good and well that you would only have one, non-rechargeable life. And he found it so worth it that you should experience that one life that he was willing not to pay a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, but his life. Shouldn’t you, fittingly, recognize the value placed on this single battery life you have?
Fourth: Sometimes we push our phones so far away that we don’t see our parent calling.
When my friend pushed his phone away, he said that it was because he was wanting to preserve the battery life in the event his mom had to call. My retort about God calling him follows not only in a matter of life and death, but also just of the struggles we face throughout our life. You see, many people face struggles throughout their life, and as they grasp for meaning or satisfaction, they boldly claim that they are waiting for God to call them and are simply living their lives as they deem fit until they hear that call. However, this is quite like the person who, seeing their lowered battery life, pushes their silenced phone away from them so that even if their parent calls them, they will not hear the ring! We so often try to preserve our lives by pushing God away, claiming that we are simply waiting for His call, but the fact is this: He is always calling! We simply have our phones muted and screens faced down so that we can’t see the ringing, justifying our own passivity by putting the blame on the Father who is striving for communication! The Father is leaving voicemail upon voicemail, yet in our desire to preserve our battery’s single life, we are too stubborn to take the time to spend what little battery it takes to see what the voicemail says. And sometimes we even see our Father calling, yet we little it ring on through, assuming that He butt-dialed us.
But God never butt-dials: Every call is for a reason, and we should be quick to answer! Don’t be so afraid about your battery dying that you let the battery simply dwindle off to 0% without you having ever even lit up the screen! Check your notifications, because God is calling and calling and calling and He wants you to answer.
Fifth and finally: We don’t have to be afraid of our battery dying.
…because that death is simply a birth into something greater. While it may be true that we don’t get to “recharge” our battery, this isn’t quite the same as it would be with a phone because we were given a promise, a promise that beyond this life there is another one awaiting, a life of bliss and happiness, free of tears and pain and unnecessary hardship. A life where the creation gets to live with the Creator, the children with their Father, united as one thanks to one, unifying hope. If we but profess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved (Romans 10:9), so that even when our battery dies, we have no reason to fear.
…and then we get to join the Cloud.
Alright, so that was a pretty pathetic joke, but I want you to know that I’m being 100% sincere when it comes to everything else. You don’t get a Battery Percentage sign, so live every moment like it was your last, striving to glorify God in all you say and all you do. You can change your Settings to increase the chances of your battery lasting longer, but it’s important to remember that you don’t get to recharge your that thing, so recognize the preciousness of each moment and realize how expensive time truly is, because you only get to take it on one time. And yes, sometimes we push our phone so far away that we don’t see the Father calling, but we can rejoice in the fact that He is persistent in His pursuit of calling us. And when we do die, we have no reason to be afraid because we will enter into a new life where battery percentages are no more, and all we have left to do is rejoice in our triumphant King, who will upgrade our “phones” with the promise of never having to worry about death again.