My dear friends,
I write this at the risk of dating myself and perhaps even humiliating myself! Still, I need to write it just in case there are others out there who just might be going through the same technology hell that I'm going through. The various jobs of my past have all involved work on a computer. Early years were in the aerospace field in Colorado Springs, working on computer data all day long. In later years I managed medical offices and still had to keep up with many varied softwares and programs.
But now...! In one week I received messages that caused alarm and much ensuing, time-consuming work to unravel. The first read something like this. "Did you just charge $1587.36 at Best Buy? If not please contact our Fraud Department right away." The second, from my email provider, said "You must implement two-step verification on your account. Please download the Authy app and follow the steps to create the f2 security key." I worked on those steps on my "smart" phone for over a week and never was successful. I responded to their email asking if someone would call me and help walk me through the steps. An email came back to inform me that "we do not have telephone support. Please click on this link."
Meanwhile, I need to get into lots of websites to change passwords and after signing in to each website, I'm told to go to my cell phone to get the "verification code." I find my phone, search for the code, and then try to remember how to get back to the website to type it in. I spend almost every afternoon for the past five days changing passwords and "securing" all my accounts. My back hurts and my eyes are crossed.
I went to shop at Safeway on Thursday just to pick up a few items they had on sale. When I found the items in the dried fruit section I noted that the price was $4.99, but if you scan the code with your "smart" phone the price will be $1.97. I finally found a clerk who would show me how to scan the barcode on the package and then I proceeded to the check-out. There was only one clerk and about 4 rows of "self-check" and I was in a hurry by now as I had an appointment. I set my items down, entered my phone number, and tried to drag the packages across the scanner. Nothing beeped, nothing registered. I had to chase down a clerk again and he informed me that you no longer scan the items on the glass surface. No! NOW you lift the items up to the little green light above the surface. OK, sure, I did it. But I did not get the $1.97 price on my two items. Back to another clerk to ask why. The answer? "Didn't you see on the little tag next to the barcode that you have to buy THREE to get the deal?"
No I didn't see that microscopic print on the tiny tag. And I don't have time to go back and get a third package. So now I have to pay. I want to pay cash as I am going back to paying cash everywhere to show the merchants that we really DO want to keep cash alive! But there's a sign on this self-checkout station that says, "No Cash Accepted. Sorry for the inconvenience." So I get out my Visa card but the little credit card thingy looks different. You don't slide the card anymore, you TAP the card at just the right angle in just the right place. (At least, thank God, they didn't ask to scan my eyeballs!)
By now I'm asking God for help! A woman looking older than me hears me and comes up next to me. "I know what you're going through. Remember when we used to just pick something off the grocery shelf, put it in our cart, go to the next checker and pay with cash? Remember when it was all so simple?"
Yes, I remember. I remember when I was a busy, young married woman, raising children and working fulltime and my mother decided it would be her way of helping me to clip paper coupons from the ads to save me time and money. Gosh, I loved those little piles of paper coupons that I just handed to the checkout clerk and that was it! Done!
I didn't charge $1587.36 at Best Buy and then when I got into my credit card statement I found all the other fraudulent charges I had not yet seen. I still don't have 2-step verification on my email account. I don't care! I just want out of this High-Tech insanity where you can't even flush your toilet without your "smart" phone! (Or I assume that will be the case very soon).
In a little video we saw tonight, Elon Musk was being interviewed by Tucker Carlson and he made a statement that he has suggested all the A.I. Chat GPT technology should be paused because it is headed for a very dangerous place of replacing all human intelligence. I guess that's how I'm feeling. Dumber than whatever Bot wants to steal my credit card and my personal information. I do not like this world anymore. The hackers and the "dark web" and the forces of evil are encroaching upon everything we do and it's all moving so quickly that perhaps only the very young can keep up and protect themselves.
I may not have figured out how I can fully protect myself from scammers and thieves; but I HAVE figured out how I can maintain my peace. I came home from the grocery store and went out back into my garden where I picked four lucious, ripe, red tomatoes, about fives pounds worth of perfect Yukon Gold potatoes, three deep green acorn squash, and four brilliantly orange carrots. I loved touching and smelling these wonderful vegetables I'd just pulled from the earth and I stopped to give God grateful thanks. For a little while it took me out of all the techno-insanity and back to a world I grew up in, without cell phones or computers. A world without so much fear that everything you have could be lost in a single incorrect key stroke.
I put the squash in the oven, dotted with butter and a little brown sugar, and then placed some salmon and gold potatoes on the BBQ grill. John was watching an old black and white episode of The Rifleman and I called him in to supper. We lit the two candles, held each others' hands and bowed our heads and thanked Jesus that He is our Protector, our Provider, and our Peace. A peace that passes all understanding. A shalom that is found in the Shabbat, when all this insanity ceases and we rest in the Prince of Peace!
Well, it is upon us again. The Hebrew month of Elul. I've found that I don't even need to look at a calendar to know that this month has begun. It brings with it a great spiritual heaviness that I have learned to recognize each year. Perhaps this year there are MANY who sense and feel that the perilous times spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:1 are here. Peril is on the horizon. How are we to prepare?
The word rest keeps coming up before me, in teachings I've listened to, in devotions I've read, even in conversation. How could rest be a word that defines where we are and what we are feeling? Most of us are feeling just the opposite! In fact, many are struggling just to sleep at night.
So, a profound teaching by one of my very favorite teachers, Bill Cloud, helped a lot this week to re-define the meaning of this word. In his message last Shabbat he spoke these words: "The path that leads to God's Rest requires that we face our enemies and all these temptations and overcome them. Ours is a life of warfare and struggle, contending for the Kingdom of Heaven. We continually battle our own will and we try to crucify our flesh daily. But those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength. There remains then a Sabbath Rest for the people of God. Noah brought rest for the people of God through all the hard work he did - through a troublesome, narrow way."
I have thought about that a lot this week. Noah did not know "rest" in the way that we think of the word. He did indeed spend countless years working on the project God gave him to build and he faced the taunting and mockery of the unbelieving, evil people all around him. We probably cannot imagine what life was like for him and his family during those troublesome years; but he did not faint and he did not quit. He remained focused on what the LORD was asking him to do. He waited on God for each instruction and in the waiting and the obedience, his strength was renewed. He took the troublesome, narrow way. So must we.
Even the daily devotional that John and I read together each morning had the same message today. "The devil is fighting with all his strength to make us stop the work that God has put us in. But be it through needs, tears, trials, and even suffering, we will not go back, we will not waiver. We will continue pressing on, for the victory is God's. " - Dimitru Duduman
The victory, you see, is the Sabbath Rest that awaits us in the Millennial Kingdom. Finally there, we will experience this great victory for which we have fought, and know what it means to truly REST in the Presence of our great Messiah and King! But while we wait for His return, I know we have choices in how we handle these perilous times. I have just witnessed a beautiful example of one who really has made the choice to face the trials and the suffering with joy. We have a niece who was just diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow. She was admitted to hospital in Atlanta a few days ago. The news was distressing for all of us who love her. I called her last night to pray with her and encourage her, but it was she who encouraged me! "What a beautiful view I have from my hospital room!" she exclaimed. "The sunset last night was so lovely and I am imagining that I am in summer camp."
Summer camp in a cancer hospital. So amazing! She is finding rest in the midst of a troublesome, narrow way. My dear friend, Phyllis Ford, wrote this week: "We are in a season of maturation process. We are approaching an hour where some of the most significant changes will be birthed out of the travail of things we face and endure. We continue to press into the Presence of the One who knows how to navigate us through the storms. A beautiful metamorphosis is taking place where Christ is being fully formed in us." That really is the goal of this life, isn't it? As my favorite Scripture says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Resurrection from cancer. Resurrection from Dementia. Resurrection from perilous times. Be it through needs, tears, trials, and even suffering we will not waiver. We will continue pressing on, for the victory is God's - and there remains for us a Sabbath Rest.
Kelly Ferrari Mills