My Phone, Christ’s Home I
By Tze Shien
Tze Shien is a labourer with the NTU Ministry. She joined the NTU Navigators in 2013 when she was a student at NTU and has continued labouring in the ministry after her graduation.
I threw my phone on the table in frustration. It had been giving me many problems recently. The screen was frozen and I just could not seem to get it to work. I had no choice but to bring it to the repair shop.
At the shop, one of the staff members examined my phone and sighed,
“This is quite a tricky issue and will take some time to be resolved…”
“Sure, I can wait! My phone is my life, I’ll do anything to save it!”, I interjected.
He smiled knowingly and replied,
“I will need to go through the files in your phone to identify the issue. You can sit beside me to see what I’m doing. Is that okay?”
I nodded empathetically. I did not think I had anything to hide in my phone anyway…
First, he opened my WhatsApp application. I used this application to communicate with my family, friends and colleagues. We would often send each other memes, links to news articles, interesting stories, and update each other on our lives.
As the staff scrolled through my WhatsApp chats, a wave of embarrassment washed over me as I realised some of the content in my chats.
For example, I had a group chat with my colleagues titled “Without Boss”, where we openly complained and mocked our supervisor. Another group chat was peppered with crude jokes and articles with sexual innuendos. I also recently fell out with a friend and we exchanged harsh words over WhatsApp.
The staff turned to me and said,
“Your WhatsApp seems to be fine, but you should change the way you communicate with others. Your messages can hurt others, or be misinterpreted by others, especially when you don’t see each other face-to-face. Before you send a message or a link, stop to think about whether it is helpful for building up the other party according to his or her needs, instead of engaging in unwholesome talk.”
As I listened to him, I resolved to change the way I sent my messages, and review the chats that I was in, including leaving the chat groups which were not helpful. Although WhatsApp made it much more convenient to contact others, some difficult conversations were better held in person and I would make it a point to have these dialogues face-to-face, instead of sending angry messages through the screen.
Upon seeing my Holy Bible application, he exclaimed, “Oh, you’re a Christian!” and opened it.
The Bible application allowed me to read the Bible on-the-go, so that I did not need to worry about carrying a physical Bible with me.
When the application opened, a “Welcome back!” notification popped up, marking “Day 1” of a new streak.
I realised that my current streak on the application was “0”, and I could not even remember the last time I opened it. I used to be motivated to open the application each day, as I enjoyed reading God’s Word, and also to accumulate a long-running streak of days spent on His Word.
However, as time passed, I became busier, missed a few days, and then stopped reading it altogether. How could I call myself a Christian if I did not even open the Bible application — now so easily accessible with a tap of my fingers — on my phone?
As the staff scrolled through my page, I saw the verses that I had highlighted and the plans I had completed from a long while ago.
I remembered how God had spoken to me through those passages and how His promises had encouraged me in past seasons when I used the application. A bitter sting of regret shot through my heart as I considered the wasted opportunities and blessings that I could have had in spending time with God’s Word.
I made a mental note to myself to start accumulating my streak once more, and to use the Bible reading plans to keep myself accountable. Other functions like “notes” and “highlights” would be useful for me to jot down my thoughts and how God had been speaking to me each day.
Next, he opened my TraceTogether application. This was a very important application as I used it to “check-in” to the places I visited, one of the requirements during the COVID-19 situation.
“Wow, you like to game at the LAN shop, eh?” the staff exclaimed as he looked at my travel history.
I nodded sheepishly.
Although my general travel history showed that I went to places like shopping malls, hawker centres and the office, I had been going out with my friends to play online games at night to relieve stress. I had been deeply invested in a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) and had put in many hours into my character to level it up the fastest.
Though I had swelled with pride at the admiration from my friends over my character’s new premium gear and accomplishments, these achievements seemed to fade when I thought of how gaming had led to too many sleepless nights and poor health habits.
Perhaps that was why I had been too tired recently to give my best at work, or to find time to seek God and simply rest. The lack of sleep was probably also making me unnecessarily irritable, and had caused me to miss one or two social engagements.
I decided that I would evaluate where I went and what I did, and whether God would be pleased with that. I would also use the Calendar application to plan my schedule to ensure that I would be more in control of my time and activities.
“Now, let’s see if your Internet is working,” he said.
By now, I could predict what he was going to do, and indeed, he started looking through my browsing history. I spent quite some time on the Internet and enjoyed consuming all sorts of content, including binge-watching dramas and catching up with gossip in the entertainment news. I also regularly browsed various sites to shop for items, and I especially loved the times when there were huge discounts and sales.
“I will need to close all these browsers to reboot the application,” the staff remarked, scrolling through endless browsers of videos, forums, and sales of clothes and shoes.
I felt my heart sink as he deleted all the windows, but as he went through them one by one, I realised that I really did not need to have so many tabs opened.
When he had finished, the tab counter — which had been at a whopping 365 tabs — now reflected a clean homepage, and I felt a sense of overwhelming relief. The application now worked more quickly without the other hundreds of open windows on standby, and I could use it efficiently as I needed to. What’s more, I realised that I could not fully remember what were in the recently closed tabs to miss them!
Though I was grateful for this “forced reboot”, I realised that this was an area of my life which I also needed to review. Why was I so interested in consuming such content, or buying things merely because of sale seasons? Would I ever be satisfied with these things, or would I just want to consume more?
“What other apps do you use frequently?”, he asked.
I replied, “Facebook and Instagram.”
I enjoyed scrolling through my feed to see what my friends were up to, and to get updates from some of my favourite celebrities and influencers. Often, I found myself going down the rabbit hole, as the clever algorithms would recommend me yet another funny cat video or quizzes like “What Harry Potter house are you in?”.
I also became more obsessed with taking the perfect picture to be posted on my social media accounts, checking back too frequently about how many new “likes” or comments I had received. I would feel depressed whenever my post received fewer “likes” than my older posts. Hence, I ended up spending countless hours on these platforms.
Turning to me, he said,
“I think you’ve been using these applications a bit too often, that’s why your phone has been slow in responding! Perhaps you could track the time you spend on social media, and set a time limit. Besides uploading all these photos of food and places you visit, since you are a Christian, you can consider using your account to share your personal experiences with God and encourage others. If you’re good at designing, you can add illustrations to some Bible verses. This will make your time spent on social media more meaningful.”
Indeed, this was a useful suggestion which I could put into practice, to reduce my use of social media in feeding my self-centredness and need for attention, but to use it as a form of outreach to my non-believing friends.
That Hidden Folder
“Let me do one last check to verify that everything is okay…hmm…you have a hidden folder?”
“Don’t open it!” I shouted, but it was too late.
I had kept a hidden folder to store my “dirty little secrets” that I did not want anyone to know about.
He looked at me sadly,
“You seem to have downloaded some virus into your phone when you downloaded these things through a shady website. I’ll need to delete the files in this folder to clean up your phone. Please do not download such things in future – they are harmful for your phone and your life.”
“Yes, I know that now. I’m sorry.”
I had wanted these things to be a secret from others, but even if others were not aware, God knew. I felt ashamed of what I had done and resolved not to have any such hidden folders in future.
Setting My Password
“Okay great, I managed to resolve all the issues as I went through your phone”, the staff told me.
I heaved a sigh of relief. That was quite a painful experience for me, as I saw how I had fallen short in the usage of my various phone applications. However, I was encouraged by how I could do better in the future.
Just then, the bell at the door jingled. A man walked in carrying a box and waved to the staff.
“Lord Jesus, the new stock is here!”
My eyes widened. “Wait a minute…Je…Je…Je…Jesus? You’re JESUS, God’s Son?!” I stuttered in shock.
Jesus lowered his mask and gave me a warm smile.
“Yes, I am He.”
I covered my face in embarrassment. Oh, how I wished I had time to clear my phone of the incriminating evidence before I came to Him!
He navigated to my phone settings and changed the password. It was a very familiar number — the date I received Christ!
“I hope that you will learn to use your phone well — to spend time with me, build others up and reach out to them. As you key in this password each time you unlock your phone, may it remind you of the day you committed your life to me. The applications which I looked through spell out the word CHRIST, as a reminder that I should be present in your phone too."
"Will you invite me into your phone just as I came into your heart?”
I nodded and thanked Him for His help.
He became the Master of my phone that day, and there is no better way to use my phone.
May Christ be at home in both your heart and your phone today!
“My Phone, Christ’s Home” is a rewrite of the Navigators’ perennial favourite, “My Heart, Christ’s Home”, in celebration of the Singapore Navigators’ 60th anniversary. #SingNav60