• Jim Donaher

Fitbits, Bushes and Science

I am cheap.

Not in an 'Ebenezer-Scrooge-is-my-spirit-animal' way, but in a 'not-gonna-pay-for-what-I-don't-hafta' way.


I am lazy.

Not in a 'completely-useless-slug-of-a-man' way, but in a 'that-doesn't-need-to-be-done-right-now' way, and an 'oh-well-nothing-can-be-done-about-that-anyway' way.


I want things to last.

Not in an 'all-things-must-last-indefinitely' way, but in a way that enabled me to be the dad who would mournfully announce, 'This is why we can't have nice things!' whenever something priceless like a vase, a VCR, or a can of tuna fish was lost or broken or otherwise squandered in my home.


When I make mistakes, I verbally berate myself.

Not in a 'yer-a-stupid-piece-of-garbage-and-you'll-never-amount-to-anything' way. Depending on the size of the error, my reaction is generally 'Idiot,' preceded by one or more colorful adjectives.


Last Wednesday, I lost my Fitbit.

Not in an 'It'll-turn-up-it's-gotta-be-right-here' way. More in a way that says, 'I'm-gone-you're-never-gonna-find-me-give-up-surrender-Dorothy' way.


I was doing yard work. I was cutting dead branches off trees, raking out old leaves from flower beds, clearing brush, and basically cleaning up for the spring and summer months to come.


It was a beautiful day, and the kind of work I was doing makes me happy. Yards look nice at this time of year, and with a little effort, expended on mild, breezy spring days, yards shine up very nicely.


After cutting and raking and clearing the area of debris, the last step was to rake as much as I could onto a too-large, blue tarp and haul the contents across the length of the back yard to the woods behind.


I had made 4 or 5 such trips and probably moved 30 cubic yards of stuff when I realized my Fitbit was gone.

Original work area, dubious project

I looked around my immediate location, made sure I wasn't standing on it, then wondered, in vain, how long it had been missing. I hadn't felt it fall off.


In keeping with my standard mindset in such matters (described earlier), my thoughts were:


  1. Nuts. That's going to cost at least $100 to replace. Or I go back to just trying to be active, and not measuring my progress. Much like the Pilgrims did.

  2. I'm an idiot.

  3. Look at that pile of stuff. It's huge. And deep. Are snakes awake yet? Maybe. It looks like a lot of work and I don't really want to do it. Besides, chances of finding it are slim.

  4. I'm such an idiot.

  5. This is why we can't have nice things.

That night, it rained. Very hard. The wind blew.


I was never clear on whether my Fitbit was waterproof, so I never wore it in the shower, and I don't swim unless the ship I'm on sinks and I don't go on ships in case it sinks, meaning I would have to swim. (Note, I hate the water. Don't judge.)


Inside the house, I looked at my orphaned charger, unusable with anything but my Fitbit Alta.

View from Pile #2 to Pile #1 (45 yds.)

I called myself an idiot. Again.


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday came and went and the sting of the loss and the accompanying self-condemnation were starting to die down.


Sunday morning, right after watching church services online, it hit me that I might be able to use my phone to find my Fitbit! I did some research and found that the phone alone would probably not help me - the debris field was too large - but there was an app that might help.


Long story short, the app helped me zero in on the approximate location in the debris. After digging for a few minutes, EUREKA, I found it.

Bingo!

'Miraculous!' I say.


'Hyperbole!' you reply.


'Bluetooth, extended battery life, the IPhone and an app that brings them all together are what found your Fitbit. It's that simple. You idiot.'


Here is why I'm right and this meaningless, trivial, impacting-only-myself incident was a miracle:


Yes, technology was the tool I used to locate the lost Fitbit. Agreed.


But what had to happen before I could do that?

  • The technology had to be invented including, but not limited to Bluetooth connectivity; Small, long-lasting, rechargeable batteries; wireless networks; Smartphones; Smartphone apps, etc., etc., etc.

  • For these innovations to come alive, huge research and development, entrepreneurial, collaborative, competitive, and stamina investments had to be made.

  • The people who made those investments and the people who carried them out and did the work had to be born, raised, educated, hired, trained, assigned, teamed, inspired and enabled to do this work.

  • Those people had to prioritize, believing that these particular innovations were the most important ones they could work on at the time, putting aside, rejecting, or ignoring others

  • Once created, these products needed to be produced and made available to customers like me. (Note - the things that needed to come together for me to be in that moment would take several encyclopediae to describe. Suffice to say, it's a lot.)

  • Everyone, all along the line, from Steve Jobs' grandmother to me as the ultimate customer, and everyone in between had to have faith that this particular problem could be solved.

Faith? Faith in what?

Faith in the idea. Faith in and of the geniuses who worked on it. Faith of the investors who provided capital to fund development. Faith in their own talents, skills, and abilities. Faith in the Apple App Store.


And ultimately, Faith in God.


Faith in God? These are scientists, capitalists, visionaries. They don't believe in God! They believe in science! They believe in money. And they believe it because they can see, feel, and touch it! God can't be proven. You were right before. You really are an idiot.


I understand many scientists don't believe in God. Many others do believe in Him. But whether they acknowledge God or deny His existence, He is there and He created everything.


'Everything' includes all of the billions of interactions and materials and circumstances and opportunities and resources and people that are needed in order for even simplest things to come together and work.


God demonstrates his unfathomable power and love for us through an infinite number of actions of all shapes, sizes, impacts, and degrees of visibility.


Some impress us enough for us to label them 'miracles,' before our brains try to assign the actual responsibility to some coincidence, luck, chance, or serendipity, swapping out the real, omnipotent power of God for false ones.


Other phenomena that don't seem 'miraculous' to us, we take for granted. We think whatever happened is just how things are.


We believe in kismet, good fortune, karma, and 'what-goes-around-comes-around' before we consider God's hand in small matters.


But take any of these 'non-miraculous things' - let's say breathing, which we take for granted until the moment we can't do it - and consider what is needed in order for it to occur.


Starting with the creation of the earth, including an oxygen-rich environment, temperate climate, sufficient food and water, and all other conditions to enable and support the life of human beings among other creatures. Then there is the engineering of the human body, including the ability to function using that oxygen, to the way the body has a respiratory system which works with the circulatory system among others. There are millions of billions of things internally and externally that have to be in place for you to take your next breath.


And yet, your next breath just came and went as you read the previous paragraph. You didn't have time to have a parade or write a book or even thank God. You were on to the next breath. No big deal.


God created all things, including all of us. He enables every single thing we do. He gave some people the talent and inclination to study the world around them. He gave them the diligence and discipline to discover new information and share it with the rest of us, or at least their scientific colleagues.


God delights in how His people use their God-given talents, even including those who seek to 'prove' God. He loves all efforts to understand and appreciate and use the gifts He has poured into our lives. Science is just one integral part of how we do that.


'Do you believe in Science or God?' is a false choice. God created the conditions that scientists seek to understand. He created the scientists themselves and enabled them to seek and reason and understand.


Some religious traditions frown on science. They suggest that miracles are sacred mysteries, not to be dissected and analyzed and proved empirically. Some also suggest that if it's not in the Bible or the Koran or some other ancient writing, then it cannot be known.


But if God didn't want people to know about and investigate to understand His creation, He would make sure we didn't. If, as a believer, you don't believe God could create mysteries that are insoluble by mere human beings, if that was His will, you are selling God short. Way short.


If you think God is so insecure that he would give us the talents to investigate the world and then 'hope really hard' that we didn't find out his secrets, you don't know God at all.


There is plenty we don't know about God. The little bits we figure out along the way are only found because He doesn't mind us finding them.


The right answer is that 'God includes Science.' It is a gift created by God and granted to scientists to help humanity understand and effectively adapt to the world around us.


The rest of us may not understand it very well, just as they don't understand my encyclopedic knowledge of 1970's NBA players.


Suffice to say, that their knowledge, in almost all cases, is more relevant and applicable to life on earth than mine is. In a lot of cases, it saves lives.


And in this one case, it found my Fitbit. That was miraculous. But so is your next breath, the sunrise, a child's laugh, automobiles, orchids, the Chia Pet, the singing voice of Whitney Houston, basset hounds, gelato, and driverless cars.


Because whether we are looking at a creation of God directly (e.g. sunset, the Amazon rain forest, Whitney Houston's singing, or the effortless grace of the basset hound), or indirectly (when one of his people creates something amazing like gelato, the self-driving car, or plastic) it all comes, ultimately from God. Because He loves us.




Thank you for reading. God bless you!


Jim Donaher is a writer, blogger, and author of the soon to be published, "Call Him, He's Home: Learning Prayer to Start and Grow Your Relationship with God" Click the title to read an excerpt.

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