“Holy Autocorrect”

May 13, 2018
Jonathan Rumburg
Ephesians 1:15-23



For those of you who don’t send text messages… and for those of you who don’t know what text messaging is, the next couple of minutes may be a little confusing.  For those of us who do text, we all know the joys of autocorrecting.  That wonderful feature our phones provide that help us text faster and spell correctly.


Of course, there is a down side to the autocorrect feature— one that can turn a simple text message into an embarrassing moment or even a sinister confession.


Here’s an actual phone text message:


Husband: How’s the morning sickness.


          Wife: Not too bad. I can’t believe we’re having a baby.


          Husband: I’m leaving you.


          Wife: What?!


          Husband: No no! Now.  I’m leaving NOW.  Leaving work NOW!


          Wife: Now I am going to be sick.




Here’s another…


Son: Hey mom.  The crack I got for Dad’s birthday was about 200.  That Ok?


          Mom: Wow.  It was so much cheaper when I was young.


          Son: Cake! I meant cake, not crack.  Wait. What do you mean cheaper?!




This is a fun one…
Sender: This is Jesus this is my new number
Sender: Jessi.  This is Jessi.
Recipient: Dang it.  I was hoping Jesus felt I was a close enough friend to give me his number




Another actual text message:
Sender: Saw a Brown window spider today in the office.
Sender: Window
Sender: [Expletive] window
Sender: Ugh window
Sender: [Expletive] window
Sender: [Undecipherable] window
Sender: Are you kidding me? [Expletive]
Sender: In the office there is a spider that gets its name because it eats its husband.


All of us who text can provide examples of our own laughable, embarrassing, and gut wrenching texts.  And admittedly, rather than use my own, I may have once again spent a little too much time researching this part of my sermon.  But I had to do some deep searching because most all the examples I found were not suitable to share from a church pulpit!  And I won’t even get into all the laments over Autocorrect autocorrecting a certain word to the word “ducking.”


Unintended funny and even outright embarrassing messages aside, the main story about Autocorrect is how well it works most of the time.


Gideon Lewis-Kraus, writing in the July 2017 issue of Wired says, “It’s not too much of an exaggeration to call Autocorrect the overlooked underwriter of our era of mobile prolixity.  Without it, we wouldn’t be able to compose windy love letters from stadium bleachers, write novels on subway commutes, or dash off breakup texts while in line at the post office.


          Without autocorrect, we probably couldn’t even have phones that look anything like the ingots we tickle.  The whole notion of touchscreen typing, where our podgy fingers are expected to land with precision on tiny virtual keys, is viable only when we have some serious and complex software algorithms to tidy up after us.”


So yes, Autocorrect is a good thing—most of the time.


We may rage now and then, but by and large, this serious and complex software algorithm makes tapping out messages easy, better, and readable.


Yet, while Autocorrect is definitely a creation of our age, it seems the apostle Paul is the first to have figured out the serious and complex algorithm of faith that makes needed corrections so that in a serious and complex world, life itself is easier, better, and livable.


Move 1


“I pray that …  God …  may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.”


Although “spirit of wisdom” is used Paul is certainly talking about God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit.


And notice what Paul says this divine Spirit can do.  It can help us…
…Know what is the hope to which we are called…


          …Know the riches of our inheritance as believers and…


          …Know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe.


Those are lofty phrases, but they are telling us the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to view life events through eyes made clear by faith in God.


A first glance doesn’t always reveal such; but we can be certain the Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit— has a serious algorithm able to autocorrect our vision so we gain a deeper meaning and a broader perspective to what it is we are seeing and even experiencing.


Move 2
To understand what I’m getting at let’s go back to the psalms.


One place to see evidence of the Holy Autocorrect is in the psalms, particularly in those that are commonly identified as laments or complaints.


Take Psalm 13 for example.  The psalmist starts by asking God how long God’s going to leave him hanging in his troubles:


How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?


          How long will you hide your face from me?


          How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?


          How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (vv. 1-2)


The psalmist goes on for three more verses stating his complaints and pleading for help, but then, all of sudden in the last verse, the psalmist says:


          I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.  (v. 6)


Now there’s a Holy Autocorrect!


Some really difficult and horrible life events have happened and continue to happen…but God is still good.


Psalm 22 is another example, which begins:


My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?


          Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? (v. 1)


The psalm ends, declaring:


Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord,


          and proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.  (vv. 30-31)
Again, some really difficult and horrible life events have happened and continue to happen…but God is still good.


Or see Holy Autocorrecting going on within a single verse of Psalm 42:11:


Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?


          Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.


Yet again, some really difficult and horrible life events have happened and continue to happen…but God is still good.


Move 3


Now a cynic might look at these psalms as say, “Well, the complaints are probably real enough, but the psalmist is just throwing in those affirmations of faith at the end as insurance against ticking God off.”


Maybe.  It’s more likely, however, that airing his complaints before God reminded him of the larger picture with which his faith intersected the difficulty and horrible life events.  The abrupt transition in Psalm 13 from complaint to praise doesn’t mean that the gratitude eliminated the grievance—but the perspective and attitude had been changed and corrected.


Eden Theological Seminary professor Dr. Clinton McCann says, “The ambiguity and complexity of the psalm accurately represents the ambiguity and complexity of the life of faith.”


Indeed it does!  Here that again…“The ambiguity and complexity of the psalm accurately represents the ambiguity and complexity of the life of faith.”


We can identify with such a statement and observation, can’t we?


Life is ambiguous.  Life if complex.  But the Holy Autocorrect our faith gives reveals that even in the midst of the ambiguity and complexity of life, even when really difficult and horrible life events happen, and continue to happen… God is still present.  God is still good.




These are without a doubt contradictions—life is difficult, horrible, ambiguous, and complex—but life is still good.  And that’s a reality that can challenge and even crush us on a daily basis.


Doesn’t it seems as though the world is running along with no one in charge?  Yet, we believe that “The earth is the LORD’S and all that is in it.” (Psalm 24:1)


Haven’t we affirmed the Lord is just, yet, at the same time, complained that some people seem to get away with murder?


Haven’t we sometimes cursed and praised God with equal sincerity in the same day?


Don’t we believe that God is at work to make all things new, but destruction and death seem to go on and on?


The contradictions can leave us disillusioned and discouraged.  The contradictions can drive us mad.


Which is why the Holy Autocorrect algorithm becomes such an important part of our faith.


It requires, however, us to do what we are called to do—live and work and model and share the Good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed—and then trust that God is at work to correct the rest.




So what’s the take-away in all of this?


It’s that we need not be derailed by the clash between the pain of earth and the hope of God’s kingdom.


It is unrealistic to expect our faith to be ever unsinkable and always overriding the evidence of life’s chaos that’s right before our eyes.  It’s naïve to think our faith will make every day heaven on earth.  It’s not what Jesus taught, and it’s not even what he experienced—Jesus wept because of the ways of the world.


But neither is it correct to assume that what we see with our eyes is the whole story.  Neither is it correct to believe that all is lost and God is incapable of redeeming the world.


Yes, some really difficult and horrible life events happen and continue to happen…but God is still good.


Which is why it becomes so critically important that we—in those difficult and horrible times— we need to look in our hearts, and wait for the Holy Autocorrect—the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” Paul speaks of in our text—to help us see beyond what’s in front of us and to point us again to God’s presence, and God’s work in the world.




So may we know that yes, difficult and horrible life events will continue to come.


May we know that the ambiguity and complexity of life and faith will cause unrecognizable contradictions.


But may we further know, and live in the truth and belief, that God is able, with immeasurable greatness and power, to make the corrections we and our world cannot make on our own.  Amen.




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