Just about everyone recognizes the iconic picture “Big Brother is Watching You,” from Orwell’s classic 1984. And while many fear how forms of technology have made this real, let’s keep this human. We’re not as private as we think. Back in college daze, several of us left our homes in Long Beach and headed for Independence Creek, about 300 miles north. In the interest of full disclosure, I had abandoned a relationship with God in my searching, although I still attended church. Mostly social reasons, frankly.
So we pulled into a hidden spot on the stream, downstream of this pic, and not really a campsite, but you could camp there back in the day. We broke out some beer, then fished a bit, broke out more beer, made dinner, broke out more, and then set up our tent for the night and, yeah, you know the next step;
Considering our conditions, none were surprised when the tent collapsed in the middle of the night. In our agonies, we merely pulled our bags out to sleep on top of the flat tent. We slept in the next morning, began to fix a breakfast to cure our obvious hangovers, and two guys came fishing upstream, right into our private, isolated campground. I recognized them, and they us, we said our hellos, but they quickly moved on. They had come occasionally to our church’s college group. But I never saw them again at church, and I still feel guilty.
Ironically, I next saw one last year at our 50th high school reunion, where I had the chance to finally apologize. He said he didn’t remember the event, but he might have been gracious. He’s like that. I felt haunted. I’m like that.
Seeing him reminded me of the popular verse, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis added). We usually interpret that as verbal reasons, as we should. But we need more than words, we need actions that match the words. Unlike our actions at the stream that didn’t match our words at church.
Our lessons? First, no matter where we are, realize we can meet someone there who knows us. I met a college friend from Long Beach at the pass at Glacier National Park, and she recognized me even with my helmet on. I couldn’t count the number of similar events. Second, wherever we are, be sure that our behavior matches what we profess to believe. I blew it back at the weir on Independence Creek. I don’t want that to happen again.
Kick Starting the Application
Does your behavior change when you’re in a place unlikely to be recognized? If it does, have you ever run into someone you know? How did that turn out? Does the Holy Spirit give you nudges when your behavior becomes inconsistent? How does the reality that God always sees what you do impact how you act?