Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In Case You Missed It

I don’t know how I missed such an important occasion.  You may have missed it too.  Text-messaging is 20 years old.  According to an Eric Limer report in, on December 3rd 1992, a 22-year-old Canadian test engineer sat down and typed out a very simple message, "Merry Christmas." It flew over the Vodafone network to the phone of one Richard Jarvis, and since then, we just haven't been able to stop texting.

Texting is all the deal these days.  In fact, numerous people send more text messages than actually make phone calls.  I discovered a few years ago that if I called one of my kids, I’d usually have to leave a voice mail.  If I texted them, they texted me right back.  It’s a big deal all right, but it didn’t start that way.  In the very beginning, texts were just a way to send network notifications, namely to let you know you had a voice-mail.  In 1993, Nokia introduced GSM handsets capable of person-to-person texting.  Even then, it still didn’t take off.  In 1995, people were only sending an average of 4 text messages a month.

But what a difference a few years make.  In 2010, the world sent over 6.1 trillion messages, or roughly 193,000 per second. And that's just good old-fashioned SMS, not the dozens upon dozens of services it's inspired.  Texting has even spawned its own vocabulary: lol, bff, tnx, and though there are a jillion more, a dinosaur like me is pretty clueless as to any ones but these.  I suspect it’s not far from accurate to state that texting is right near the top of the way people communicate with one another anymore.

It’s ironic that that texting’s birthday comes in the same month that we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  God had been sending the world His messages through prophets and through those who wrote down the words and ideas God had inspired in their hearts.  But on that day in Bethlehem, God sent His Son.  God came in person.  No text.  No prophet announcement.  No voice out of a cloud.  God sent His Son—"born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those that are under the law that we might receive the full rights of sons" (Gal. 4:4).  Could a message be any more intimate or personal or powerful?  In effect, God was saying, “I’m not sending you a word or a prophet or a text; I’m coming down myself.”  Isaiah said it would happen and Matthew confirmed it: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means ‘God with us.’”

So Happy Birthday, Texting, and Happy Birthday, Jesus.  Texting has changed a lot of things in its 20 years.  But it has a long way to go to catch up to the kind of changes Jesus has made in millions of lives, in numerous cultures, and in history itself.  If you missed texting’s birthday, no big deal.  But please, please, please, don’t miss Jesus’ birthday.  That is a big deal. Christmas got the ball rolling toward the cross and the resurrection and the securing of the life that is really life for all who believe.

You know, I'm so grateful I think I’ll send a text message to God: Tku 4 sending ur son.  Hppy bday, JC :)

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