Thursday, September 18, 2008

the story of my second ipod

This is story is a little boring, honestly.

As promised, Apple released its new ipods, and after returning my old version due to the faulty rewind, I prepared to enter the 21st century.

After much weighing of classic vs. nano pros and cons, I finally realized that I don't have 120G worth of music in the first place, nor was I going to crack out an ipod classic to watch a movie in my hand when I have a perfectly good television. So I finally decided to get an ipod nano. Instead of green, I bucked tradition and got purple. I am a rebel.

It just came last night. The color is great, and it's really light. It's like holding a cracker. I think what won me over at first was the ability to play a game that only required me to tilt it around in my hand like little Wii remote. Neat.

I haven't put all my music on it yet or used the new "Genius" feature. This feature is supposed to collect information about what songs people listen to in a big "cloud" and then tell me what songs go together. I kind of enjoy making my own mixes and not having data about me collected by any sort of technology disguised as harmless condensed water. But whatever, maybe I'll like it. Who knows!

The shuffle feature is pretty neat. All I have to do is shake the ipod and it will shuffle the songs. I was worried it would be too sensitive and shuffle all the time, but the smart people at Apple figured out how to avoid that.

And yes, this one does rewind.

I have much more to post-- especially about how all the following are related:
my recent graduation from an online course, toy blocks, toe nails, and autumn. See the link? I will save all that for another day. I also have something to say about telephones.

Last week, before I got my new ipod nano, I became completely distracted by the show Monk. By "completely distracted" I mean that I've watched Season 1 and Season 2 in a little less than 2 weeks.

I've been trying to avoid pushing God to the side in favor of the easy escape. Watching three episodes per day of the endearingly brilliant OCD detective Adrian offers me no lasting peace, however. So I have done my best to keep searching for the reassurance that will last.

Here is the most recent reassurance I have received:

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."
Isaiah 49:15-16

Picture those nail-scarred hands. He did that for you and for me-- to save our lives from this sin-infested world-- to give us something better that we do not deserve. He promises to redeem our pain, to give us new life, and he gives us all this by grace.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever-- do not abandon the works of your hands."
Psalm 138:7-8

No matter what storms we face, no matter how we feel, no matter how uncertain and bleak the future may appear, he does not forget us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Habakkuk Hope

Though I don't often go into detail, I'm in the middle of several raging storms right now. Life is not smooth for me. I daily face the realities of my dad's verbal abuse, caregiving for a grandma with a stroke, chronic illness, betrayal, denial, crime, abandonment, loss, unbelief, and terror. Every day is a silent struggle-- trying to survive a situation that cannot be easily explained or understood.

And as a person who has always looked for evidence of God's love in terms of how pleasant/blessed he makes my earthly journey, I've been one disappointed kid. The feelings of being abandoned are powerful. The temptation to deny God and turn my back is rhythmic-- like waves eroding the shore of my soul. How can God be loving and watch evil swallow us up? How can he be faithful with no sign of his justice year after year?

The prophet Habakkuk asked the same questions:
"How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted."

Those questions swirl in my head all the time:

"Why do you make me look at injustice?"
"Why do you tolerate wrong?"

They could just as easily come from the mouth of a college student who's been mistreated by a professor, a mother who's lost a child, a relief worker at a calamity site, a woman who's been abused, or an old man on fixed income who's been robbed.

I'm sure not one of us has to think very hard to conjure up a situation where we were treated unjustly, or watched a loved one suffer unfairly.

Of course, the intensity of our questioning God is often directly proportional to the extent of injustice we see taking place. Some of it can move us to tears, while other times, we can be paralyzed, traumatized, literally begging, on the floor immobilized with sobs so deep they seem to shake our very soul from its foundation.

I've been there.

So when I see these questions asked of God in scripture, my first reaction is to sit up and take notice of the answer. God speaks to his prophet in this book, and after reading, I find myself both comforted and longing. Still waiting for more complete answers, but also assured.

The bottom line is, we're not going to fully understand here. It's not possible to understand God's ways. They are higher than ours. His timetable is not the same as ours.

As God answers Habakkuk with his plan, he says things about the specific situation that aren't really pertinent to me. But the overall message has universal meaning. God is working on my situation. Though I do not perceive it, he is there behind the scenes preparing and readying for the time of holy judgment.

My main idea is that God has not come fast enough for me. He has not corrected or prevented evil "in time." God did not come "in time" to heal Lazarus either. He let him die and left him in the grave 4 days. But God DID come. And what he did at that grave was more magnificent than the fastest healing of any sick man.

I was thinking of a passage in Philip Yancey's book ("Disappointment with God") where he describes God's hard-to-grasp omnipresence with an outer space analogy:

He refers to a star explosion (supernova) that can be seen from earth with the naked eye, but only 170,000 years later because of the vast distance the light must travel to reach our planet. When we look up in the sky, so many years after the fact, we see the impressive result of what happened long before. Though we were unaware of it (not even born) when it happened, the explosion set into motion a powerful blast of light. We just had to wait in order to see it with our own eyes.

If a being could somehow be big enough to inhabit all of space simultaneously, then, due to his sheer size, he would see both the star and our planet at the same time. It would thus be possible for him to see the star both when it exploded, and 170,000 years later when the light finally made its way to earth. From the small perspective of the earthling, the star explosion was discovered and happening in the "present moment." From the perspective of such a super-sized being, the supernova was arriving on earth at present, but had also been initiated long ago.

That is similar to how God is, Yancey says. God can see past, present, and future as he inhabits all time and space at once. He knows what is about to happen even before we have perceived it. And he tells Habakkuk to wait. He is raising up justice as we speak. He is preparing a people for that purpose that we do not yet perceive, and wouldn't even believe if we were told! God is always working on our behalf. Punishment WILL come to those who do evil. God's cup of wrath is coming around to them. He does not miss a single injustice.

So as a super-sized being in space, what would you tell the little person on earth, who is waiting to see the guaranteed supernova? For years he cannot see it in the sky. What would you tell him when he questions your assurance and doubts your promise because years go by without so much as a glimmer or a flicker of light?

The same thing God says to Habakkuk:
"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."

He goes on to remind us:
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

"...the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."

When Jesus died on the cross and rose to life again, incredible power was released, and the devil was condemned to hell. We will soon see the full measure of God's victory just like that supernova in the sky. The power over death and evil has already been released. It will appear to us fully manifested on the chosen day. We must wait for it.

God talks of the day when we will finally see what he has seen coming all along. Though everything may look bleak and dark-- though we see righteous fall and evil succeed-- though the sky looks as it always has, with no flicker yet of what we've been told to look for... we still hold on with hope.

"I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."
Habakkuk 3:16-19

Monday, September 8, 2008

The heavens declare the glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

Friday, September 5, 2008

the story of my first ipod

So, after a short nap on Wednesday night, I got up at around 1 a.m. and began playing with my new ipod nano! It was very shiny, very green, and very exciting. I also unwrapped my new 8-disc collection of "The Bible Experience" to be the first to load onto my new player.

After I downloaded the most recent version of iTunes, I put in the first CD. I followed instructions for transferring the mp3s, but that didn't work, so I just decided to drag and drop them. Eventually, after several hours of deleting, reloading, and reorganizing, I performed the "synch" but must have "synched" improperly because my playlist ended up starting at Numbers rather than Genesis and completely left off the New Testament altogether. I also had to find the tracks in the recently downloaded list, so I decided to try the whole synch thing again.

iTunes froze approximately 2-3 times during the evening, requiring me to restart my computer each time, since it would not respond to "end task." But finally I had the whole Bible on there and played Klondike 23 times while listening to the first 25 chapters of Matthew, which, upon second thought, was a bit too much all at once.

However, aside from the annoyance of iTunes, there was one pesky little problem. My ipod nano would not rewind. Now, because I'm psychologically scarred by things that are blatantly wrong (like chronic theft, crashing sounds in the house at night, or the smell of cigarette smoke wafting into my bathroom), which I'm forced to tolerate or otherwise listen to people minimize/deny, I tried to tell myself for a while that this was just the way the settings were and that it wasn't really a problem. Then I tried to play with the settings, and realized that, in fact, holding down the back arrow really should rewind and not ignore you and/or take you back 3 tracks. I continued to try to rationalize keeping it, but eventually conceded the glaringly obvious fact that my cute little green player would have to go back to its hometown of iPodia.

So tonight I reset it to factory default settings and got the RMA and shipping label ready to print.

So long, minty green ipod nano. I barely knew you.

I was thinking of buying a classic ipod as a replacement, but upon searching the "infoweb" I found out that new ipods and new ipod nanos will be released by Apple on TUESDAY. Nothing like being the lucky one to buy the old product right before the next version comes out. I hear there will be a price reduction too. So, we'll see what happens.

Ah, Steve Jobs. What will you do next?