Teenagers and technology – the two seem to be inseparable. My thirteen-year-old son especially likes his computer….and his phone….and his school laptop….and the tablet….and the kindle. There are times that I will find him with a Kindle in one hand, phone in the other, in front of an open laptop. Sigh.
While he loves computers and all things technology (and I can see a future job path here for him), as a mom I want to make sure he isn’t so engrossed in the cool technology that he doesn’t learn well at school or connect with “real” people outside of virtual ones. So at night, we’ve had to institute a “no tech in your room” rule where all of those fun pieces of electronics come into our bedroom for safekeeping (and charging – you should see our electric bill!). It sounds simple, right?
Not so much.
After I thought all the tech was safely squirreled away in my room, I go to sleep, and wake up in the middle of the night to find a boy’s face lit up by a computer in his room. And it’s happened repeatedly. He feels bad – he knows he shouldn’t sneak into my room to grab electronics – but yet he does it anyway. The temptation for him is just too great. And then his head hangs in shame.
As we’ve had consequences and talked through this, my frustrated mom mode wonders why he’s such a slow learner about this. If I catch him with tech against the rules, there will be consequences. Simple, right? Why doesn’t he get it?
It was the same with God’s people after they left Egypt. God had shown them miracles and wonders and mercy. And how did they respond? With repeated grumbling. What did God do? Punish them. What did they keep doing? Grumbling! It seemed to be a constant cycle.
Seriously? Were they that slow? Why didn’t they learn? Why couldn’t they see God’s love and mercy and just trust Him?
It’s really easy for me to point a finger at my son for his tech foibles or the children of Israel as they wandered the desert complaining. Except when I point that finger at them, there are fingers in my fist pointing right back at me. I’m no better. How often have I not said the kind words that I knew my husband needed because I was tired and selfish? How often have I kept up with the same old bad habits that I know need to be broken? How often have I lost patience with my kids when I know I need to stay calm? I could go on and on with all of my failings.
I can take comfort that I’m in pretty good company with the apostle Paul, as he says in Romans 7:15-20:
For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead, I do what I hate. But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.
We all have that sin in us. We know the right thing to do – but we don’t do it. We have a lot in common with the children of Israel, wandering and grumbling in the desert.
Fortunately, we have a God of second chances; a God who loved us enough to let his own son die for us, to take on our punishment. Consequences will come in this temporal world, but eternally I know where my destination is if I keep my eyes on Jesus and turn to Him in repentance.
Maybe I’m not such a slow learner after all.