So much focus in the software world has been focused on “the Cloud,” or “Cloud Computing” over the past ten years or so, and rightly so. Web-based, hosted, SaaS, or Cloud technologies – whatever you want to call it – has radically changed the landscape of technology. Then add in the mobile phone with wireless internet connectivity, and bam, monumental changes for the tech industry, and for everyday folks like us.
With these changes has come more information, programs and apps, and the ability to be productive wherever we may go. This idea of “the cloud” following us throughout our life–blog entries, Facebook statuses, and software we rely on on a daily basis–making our lives meaningful, is somewhat a false promise.
But while so much of the tech world focuses on the Cloud and all the solutions to problems it brings (or occasional new problems we’d never imagined), I recently had an epiphany about the term, “Cloud,” during my pastor’s sermon last Sunday.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
This reminded me about a different kind of cloud that follows us everywhere, even when we forget our iPhones at home. The “cloud of witness” the Bible refers to is a different kind of valuable data that we can rely on wherever we go. No database like this every goes down or gets hacked . . .
Take a stroll with me for a few minutes back to the Exodus, when Moses led the Israelites through the desert for forty years. God gave Moses some big-time help when he protected them with a cloud – physical manifestation of God’s protection.
Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.” (Numbers 9:17)
So much of technology relies on false promises; promises I don’t personally want to get hung up on so that it diverts my real focus on relying on God’s protection and guidance throughout my life.
There are lots of tech tools available in the Cloud that are super-awesome, like Evernote, like YouVersion, like Google-everything; however, when I rely on these too much to protect me–my information, my data, my stuff–I tend to rely less on God, the true “Cloud of protection” if you will.
From Psalm 78:
O my people, listen to my teaching. Open your ears to what I am saying . . . I will teach you hidden lessons from our past . . .We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord . . . In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and at night by a pillar of fire . . . But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness . . . He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.”
This is a really long Psalm that basically retells the entire history of the Israelites. We can look to our history as believers to see God’s cloud of protection over us – through His Word, through other people, and through events in our lives that drive us closer to Him.
So I challenge you as you’re wrestling with new technologies, their purpose, their place in your church or ministry: draw from God’s great “cloud of witnesses” who have come before us and look to their wisdom, through God’s guidance, always carefully weighing the moments when technology is needed, and when time with God unfettered by gadgets is in order.
Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, church technology consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http://ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.