networkSomething very interesting happened yesterday. I posted my sermon joke that I had planned to use on Sunday morning but then didn’t use, along with a picture of a sign about the procrastinator’s meeting being postponed. A friend saw the picture and asked me via Facebook where I got it. I was able to tell her and noticed that she posted it on her Facebook page soon afterwards.

(If you click on the picture from yesterday’s joke it will take you to the source website. Getty Images have made many of their images free to use on blogs and social media, but ask that you use the links to embed the image so that it links back to their site. They aren’t free for general use, though, so do pay for them if you are using them elsewhere).

By the end of the day another Facebook friend ‘shared’ the same image which he had seen on one of his Facebook friend’s page – someone I don’t know at all. It had come full circle. I would love to follow the trail to see where the sharing led me but I don’t have the time. But it did remind me just how interconnected we are in the modern social media era.

I have commented before on how surprised I am at the countries from which people view the bloggages I lob out into the ether. Do you know where the Aland Islands are? Me neither, but someone from there seems to have inadvertently landed on my blog (if it’s you and you have come back, BLESS YOU!).

So how can we make the most of this interconnectedness? (I mean more than sharing jokes, funny pictures of cats and wishing friends happy birthday without having to buy them a card…) I can share ideas and thoughts and get reflections from others that I would probably not have considered myself – using the collective wisdom of a cyber-diasporatic community (a new phrase I have coined – you can work it out I’m sure). When I see a friend’s post and comment on it or reply that can remind them that I am thinking of them, or that I exist and it will enhance the connectivity.

And, for me perhaps the most significant thing, when I see a friend in need (and that can be anywhere in the world) I can pray for them. And seeing a friend’s post of good news can also be a trigger for prayer. In fact I could spend a whole day praying for friends who post online. I don’t think it would be a day wasted…

So next time you see a friend’s post online (or even one of mine) why not use it as a prompt to pray for them?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

unconnected thoughts

>when I'm calling you oo oo oo oo oo ooToday we have changed our Broadband and Phone supplier. I realised that it was happening when I switched my computer on this morning and it told me that it was having problems connecting to the internet. When I checked our landline there was almost complete silence with a just hint of gentle static hiss.

It felt very strange not being able to send or receive emails, make phone calls, check information on the internet and so on. I had to rely on books made of paper rather than doing a quick online search when I wanted to find something out. Nobody was able to call me (they would have got an engaged tone). It was eerie. It was frustrating. It was liberating.

Sometimes it seems like God has switched off the connection between me and him. It feels like there are problems getting in touch with him and all I hear from him is almost complete silence with a just hint of gentle static hiss. When I read my Bible I find myself reading words rather than feeling that God is speaking to me. When I pray I feel like nobody is listening.

That can be disconcerting: I don’t want God to be silent. It can be frustrating: why won’t he answer? But can it also be liberating? Is God silent sometimes to help us to learn and grow? When I was learning to ride a bike I started off with stabilisers. Then one day my parents announced that we were going for a bike ride / walk and that they were taking the stabilisers off. That was scary. I didn’t want them to. But they promised that as long as I needed them they would hold me upright by holding onto the seat.

Off I pedalled and my dad ran alongside me. Every so often I would realise that it felt different and would look around to see if he was still holding me. He wasn’t and I wobbled to a halt. I was annoyed that he had let go. I wanted the security of him being there holding me up. I did not want to be unconnected. But then gradually I realised that for the time that he had let go I had been riding my bike on my own. I gained in confidence and I have not looked back since (except when performing manoeuvres and have wanted to avoid being squashed by vehicles).

This is not the only answer to why God is silent but I think that sometimes it is because he wants us to try and use our faith on our own. I don’t mean that he wants us to do things in our own strength, but he wants us to put our faith into action, to go with what we know and to use the gifts and talents he has given us. He’s still with us, just like my parents, but he is also encouraging us to grow in our faith. We grow in spiritual maturity when we put our faith into action instead of remaining with spiritual stabilisers on.

Be blessed, be a blessing.