For Sunday, October 16, 2011
Season After Pentecost – Proper 24

Steve Job’s aspiration was to make a ding on the universe.  The dimple on the bottom of my iPhone suggests he succeeded.

I’m personally saddened by his loss.  I admire his genius for fusing technology with design.  I thoroughly enjoy using both my iPhone and my iMac.  I’ve felt affirmed as a person when I interact with his company for service.  Recently, rather than fighting through layers of automated menus only to be asked verbally for the phone number I had just provided to a computer prompt, the Apple representative I was on the phone with said, “Rather than calling the local stores yourself, would you like me to do that for you?”  Thank you God!  

My condolences go out to his family.  I watched my brother die of emaciating cancer.  It is difficult to see the vitality of a person’s life inexorably drain away.  My condolences also go out to the company as well: it’s hard to lose your visionary.  I saw the picture above flashed on a billboard on the way to work here in Milwaukee this past week.  It seemed fitting: well done Apple.  Yet it was sad.  iSurrender.  

Andy Crouch published an extended essay in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal called “The Secular Prophet“.  He highlights Mr. Job’s 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University as a means of summing up Steve’s philosophy of life:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart, and intuitionThey somehow already know what you truly want to become (emphasis mine).

Steve was a Zen Buddhist and an Existentialist.  This gave him a firm grasp on the first two stanzas of Reinhold Neibuhr’s “Serenity Prayer.”

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  

What Steve may not have grasped was the wisdom of the next two two stanzas: 

Trusting that you will make things right if I surrender to your will, that I might be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Steve Jobs surrendered to death but maybe not to the One who claims to have created us and to understand us better than we understand ourselves.  We indeed ought to listen to our “own inner voice, heart, and intuition“.   Yet do these not tell us that we are profoundly lost and in need of something outside of ourselves?  Could it really be that in Jesus there is a way to avoid surrendering to death by instead surrendering to life?  

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16).

iSurrender, yes, but not to death.  iSurrender to the love of God for me.  I was indeed naked but now I’m clothed with forgiveness, grace, and peace.  While I’m still very much a work in progress, I hope for something better and humbly invite you to join me on this journey.

Reader’s Corner:
Philippians 4:8 says this: “… Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  What do you most admire about your iMac, iPhone, or iPad?  What in this material reality might point to a deeper spiritual reality running both around and through it?  

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