The terror of being offline

Usual start to a Friday – made my porridge, then read today’s BRF passage from the Bible over a cappuccino, then to my computer to write my blog.   This morning I knew what I was going to write about – the closure of Moughtin delicatessen in the IOM.

So just before typing, I googled to check this information.  So as I watched the apple spinning cursor (AKA the spinning beach ball of death) I realized something was wrong.  At first I thought it must be my Mac – images of huge repair bills flashed through my mind.

But the same result on my laptop and smartphone.   No broadband signal! At this point my alarm turned to sheer panic as I realized I was cut adrift in a digital world.  I was offline.

How could I send these notices? (answer:  go to the Ministry Centre!), how could I communicate with my family and friends? (answer:  talk to them)  and above all else, who was left to monitor the eurocrisis? (answer:  get to Berlin right away, Angela’s got it all wrong)

I’m not sure how but having pressed a few buttons on my BT home hub, a help screen appeared.  A few clicks and once again I am back in Digiland.  Huge sense of relief and loud shouts of praise.

Of course, we take the wonder of broadband for granted, the sheer power of the internet which has transformed our lives and possibly our town centres (that is how I expected my original blog to go).  If for any reason we were to go offline, massive ramifications.  Our society would simply grind to a full stop.  Pillage and looting in a matter of days.

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, God’s gift of his Holy Spirit.  We rejoice that now the Holy Spirit is accessible to all who decide to follow Jesus.    As we surrender our lives to him, so God pours his Spirit into our lives.  He is God’s guarantee – his gift of grace to keep us going.  His gift of love that we may live as Jesus.

But as Christians, we can take too easily this ongoing presence of God for granted.  My Bible reading this morning was Psalm 86:  “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.”  The Psalmist shows a quiet sense of confidence in a situation of some distress knowing that God is there with him.

I’m not sure how I can articulate this but even as a young Christian I have always had a profound sense of the ongoing presence of God.  This became more audible following an experience of the Holy Spirit as a university student, deeper than feelings and the usual sensations, a different category altogether.  (I tell the story in our Alpha Holy Spirit day).   I’m lost for an analogy – but something like a dialling tone.  You know you are connected even if nothing is happening.

So we can bless God for this incredible gift of his continuing presence.  But this is only what Jesus himself promised:  “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth.”  John 14:16.

This understanding makes all the difference.