January 14, 2021
Sometimes that we do something is more important than how we do something. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we do many things in life. Pre-COVID, grocery shopping (one of my jobs in our household) typically meant hanging out with at least one of my kids as I ran errands; now I shop efficiently and—for safety reasons—go alone, wearing a mask. Similarly, school and worship in the past ten months have been described with a word we’ve grown far too familiar with: “unprecedented.” Nonetheless, our family is thankful for the food, education, and church community that God has provided for us.
“Helen” (name changed for privacy), an avid Today reader, has also changed how she does devotions. But it’s not because of COVID—it’s due to entering a different season of her life. Helen is 90 years old and estimates that she has been reading the Today devotional for 50 years. Earlier in life, the daily devotional had been a regular part of her marriage. “My husband and I always used to read Today together,” she recalls. “He passed away 15 years ago.”
As a widow, Helen continued her daily practice of reading scripture and praying. During this phase of life, she began to experience another loss: the loss of her eyesight. “I have macular degeneration, and my vision is slowly getting worse,” she says. “When I no longer could read the regular print [version of Today], I used the large print.” Her vision loss has now rendered her legally blind, and she is unable to read even the large print version.
Today Helen has a new way of doing devotions: via Alexa. Helen’s daughter-in-law helped her set up a smart speaker. The speaker helps her with nearly every part of her daily routine. Along with turning on lights and telling her what time it is, the device is set up to read Today on a daily basis. “It’s just an added thing that I can do, which [Alexa] helps me do,” Helen says.
Stepping back, I notice striking similarities between my story and Helen’s. When life changes—whether due to a worldwide pandemic or due to simply entering a new phase of life—God always provides opportunities to be fed, to learn, and to worship. Despite relational and vision losses, God is still providing Helen those same spiritual opportunities. How she accesses the Today devotional is different, but that she accesses it is the same...and maybe even better. “I just concentrate on listening,” Helen shares. “I think I concentrate on the message more now that it’s read to me.”
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