It is a dream that actually was a reality. I was a student in an American history class in college. The professor was somewhat entertaining, but quite often made the subject totally boring.
One day, about a week after the class began, one of my classmates showed up in class about 15 minutes before the prof arrived, set up a tape recorder and asked the student in the next seat to hit record when the class began. A few minutes after the class was over, he returned to class to pick up his recorder. Before the next class, a couple of other students did the same thing. About three weeks into the class, almost half the class was coming into the room early, setting up their tape recorders, then leaving the classroom and returning afterward to pick up their recorders.
Then the amazing thing happened. About halfway through the term, after the students had come to set up their recorders, the prof came in, pulled a tape recorder out of his briefcase, set it on the desk in front of the class, waited until the time for the class to begin arrived, then pressed the playp button on his recorder, said, “I always wanted to do that!” and turned and walked out of the classroom. His pre-recorded lecture was being recorded by about 20 other recorders in the classroom.
My only regret about that whole scenario was that I did not think of it, nor did I participate in it, simply because I did not have a tape recorder at the time. But this actually happened — well, mostly. The only part of this that is a dream more than reality is the professor meeting tape recording with tape playing. In the true scenario, the professor showed up faithfully for class every class period, no matter how many tape recorders he was facing.
But as I think of it, this is one of the earliest versions of livestreaming, isn’t it? Essentially, such scenarios were a place where the audience was not physically present in the room, but the information was being transmitted so they did not miss anything important. Now, I must admit, it also seemed to me to be easier to go to class and sit through a boring lecture than to go to class, set up the recorder, make sure that it was turned on to record the lecture, then come back to retrieve the recorder, and finally, to listen to the lecture again and take notes to insure that the material made it into my brain, suitably enough to interact with it and recall it later, if needed. But the one thing this does show is that students can be quite innovative and creative when necessary.
The necessity for creativity and innovation also showed up in the life of a woman in Los Angeles, California. It seems she was upstairs in her bedroom one night when she heard a noise downstairs that indicated someone was breaking into her home. She crawled under her bed with the phone and called 911, but the emergency system was having a problem, and it gave her a menu of options. Realizing that this would take a minute or more, her mind raced for other ways to reach the police.
She devised a resourceful plan. She grabbed a phone book and called the nearest donut shop just down the street from her home. She asked the employee who answered if there were any police officers in the shop, and the answer was, “Of course!” An officer was put on the line, the frightened woman told him her problem, he sprinted to his car and arrived in time to capture the thief.
The Bible repeatedly challenges us to be creative and innovative in finding solutions to whatever problems we face. Whether it be figuring out how to record a history lecture in absentia or to summon help from the police department in a time of great crisis, or whatever the issue we face, we need the creativity and wisdom that only a creative God can give. James tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
The solution then to whatever issue we encounter is to turn to God in prayer, asking Him for the wisdom in how best and how most creatively to deal with whatever we face.
So the next time you are faced with an emergency, you may want to call the local donut shop, but first talk with God about it!
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.