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Numb

It seems like every sci-fi show or movie has an android, or robot, or some sort of A.I. character like that. When they’re one of the good guys they’re very calm and collected, and monotone. Even while carrying out amazing feats of strength it’s like, “Oh this 1 ton piece of machinery? No problem, I’ll get that out of the way in a jiffy.” If the robot is relaxed, everyone can relax. But once that robot starts to emote at all you know, oh, something is about to go down! The bad A.I. is always like out of control emotional. Something about a computer being all over the place with their voice and their face is so alarming.

Yet when it’s the people it’s opposite. The emotive dynamic person is the hero, the one everyone is drawn to and trusts. Even the “tough guy” character has to show at least a smirk here and there to let you know they’re one of the good guys. Bruce Willis is the king of the tough guy smirk. There’s something about it that just lets you know, it will all work out in the end.

Again, there’s a flip side to human characters in film. Once they start going flat with their emotions and voice dynamic you know, things are about to get hairy. Somehow a resting face, or expressionless face, and even-tone dialogue sends chills up the spine and foreboding in the heart. Why is that? Why is a crazy android and calm person so unsettling? Why is a calm android and emotional person so reassuring?

My theory is the fact that one is un-natural and one is natural. Computers are metal and plastic, not emotional. People are flesh and blood, not cold and mechanical. It’s natural for a calculating synthetic entity to be collected, they have all the numbers sorted, all the ducks in a line. It’s natural for people to show feeling and warmth because it’s just showing the soul underneath the skin. If the calculator stops adding up properly, or the soul goes dark, there’s a problem.

They didn’t have androids in biblical times, but there was people. A dark soul was just as troubling then as it is now. In Psalm 115 the psalmist starts describing the idols of the other nations and how they have no senses or feeling, “But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.” (Ps. 115:4-7 NIV) The idols were made to look like people with features and bodies, these idols gave a false sense of presence. The truth was those idols had no sight, no understanding of the prayers being offered to them, no response to give in return. The idols were just metal, silver and gold.

The chilling bit of the psalm comes next, “Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” (Ps. 115:8 NIV) The people from the others nations, and the Israelites who fell into idolatry with these idols ended up having eyes that could not see, ears that could not hear, mouths that could not answer. They were numb. In short, a cold heart and a dark soul.

The psalmist goes onto to offer some hope, “O house of Israel, trust in the LORD- He is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD- He is their help and shield. You who fear Him, trust in the LORD- He is their help and shield.” (Ps. 115:9-11 NIV) He’s basically saying, if you’re the people of God, trust Him to protect you. If you’re the ministers of God, trust Him, He’s trustworthy. If you’ve given your life to God, trust Him, He is your shield.

If you are anything like me you read this and thought, “Wait, what does God being my shield have to do with numbness, or the lack of numbness?” I think it’s because of how we as people naturally react to disappointment. When someone lets us down we start to have reservations, when it happens chronically we stop trusting them. The more important that person is to us, the more we are apt to shut down more and more with each disappointment.

Now apply that tendency to a relationship with an idol. Someone offers their life and soul to whatever idol and whatever the worship of it promised. But this idol has no feeling, no life, so it inevitably does not come through for the person offering their life to it. The promise is empty the outcome is disappointment on a soul level. As is the shut-down, which subsequently leads to a hard heart and a person with no feeling – numb.

Therefore, a living and trustworthy God is good news. Our God hears us when we call out to Him, He sees what’s going on in our lives. If we make a point to listen, He answers us. When we trust the LORD He comes through for us. Every time we see His work in our lives it brings us back to life. A stark contrast to the disappointment and shut-down of idolatry.

In Ezekiel the LORD gives a promise to bring new life to His people. Chapter 36 describes the coming judgement on Israel for their long standing, generational idolatry. Half way through He switches from judgement to redemption. God promises to free His people from the idols and promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ez. 36:26 NKJV) The rest of the chapter God talks about all the blessing and healing that deliverance will bring to His people.

God knows that we shut down when we’re let down. He know the idols will fail us and we will become hard hearted because of it. He isn’t fazed, He has a plan. A plan for redemption through Jesus. We can give our hearts and our lives to Jesus, whatever our hearts and lives look like. When we put our trust in Him, Jesus will be our help and our shield. He will fill us with His Holy Spirit that will show us where the idols are in our lives and free us from them. The LORD will put a new heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone.

When we worship God, and give our hearts to Jesus, we become more like Him. We become more alive and regain feeling. The numbness fades and warmth returns.

-Etta Woods

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