If you’re having trouble with your spiritual life, I’m happy to announce that there’s an “app” for that. If you don’t know what an “app” is, then you’re probably using old fashion methods like prayer and such.
An “app,” short for “application,” works on your Smartphone to do a specific task. There are apps to help you manage every aspect of your spiritual life. There’s one called EZPray that produces a prayer specific to your needs from any of 14 Christian saints. There are hundreds of Bible apps including the “Top 100 Bible Verses” app that promises to provide “powerful and life-changing scriptures.”
The spiritual apps aren’t limited to Christian doctrine. Muslim apps provide prayer times and a compass pointed toward Mecca. New Ager apps provide a guide for stones and crystals. You get the idea.
In all seriousness, I can’t promise you that using a new-fangled Smartphone application will bring you closer to God. However, I do encourage you to be open to the new ways to encounter God. The old ways may be easier, but they aren’t always right.
It’s like this: When I was a kid, my father asked me to dig a drainage ditch in our yard. He defined both the beginning and the end, but he let me choose my method for digging the ditch. At first, the digging was difficult, but it quickly got easier when I discovered a gopher trail along the ditch path. With a newfound ease, I put my pick into the hole and pulled up on the handle to transform the tunnel into a ditch.
Soon my father was staring into the ditch asking, “How’d you do it so fast?”
“It was easy. I followed this gopher path.”
“That’s nice,” my dad said hiding his smirk, “but I can’t lay pipe in that ditch.”
“Why not?” I protested.
He motioned me into the ditch where I eyed it from level ground. The ditch began and ended at the points he determined, but the path was as crooked as a hose laid out by a drunken fireman.
Having traditions and regular spiritual habits that are laid out by those before us can be good, but every once in a while it’s good to survey your path from another perspective. If your spiritual habits keep you from thinking, as did the trail of my gopher friend, then it’s really no journey at all.
The ancient prophets wrote volumes about people whose traditional religious practices literally became their God. These worshippers were more in love with their forms of worship than they were the one they worshipped.
Using traditions to aid in our spiritual paths can be helpful when we are lost, but if we’re not careful, we’re going to find that we are simply following the crooked diggings of a confused gopher, an easy path devoid of meaning.
It’s like this — my grandmother lived on a forty-acre Texas farm. Every year when my parents took us to visit, they’d get lost — that is until they found the old familiar farm road with the ruts. Then, steering into the ruts, they’d meander across several acres of pasture until we found the farmhouse. The ruts were our salvation, because once we entered the ruts, we knew we weren’t going anywhere but the farmhouse.
Traditions can be good, but we can’t assume they are the only way. Bust out of your religious rut. Explore. God is everywhere. I think as you do, you will find the new paths refreshing and that God will remain as promised in scripture, “…the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of No Small Miracles. He also serves as an Air National Guard chaplain and is board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. You can call him at (321) 549-2500, E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at www.thechaplain.net or write him at P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759.