Left On Read

I’ve crossed that line. 

You know the one I’m talking about. That invisible line that people cross somewhere in their early 30’s where they no longer really know or care about what’s hip and trendy, what’s hot in fashion (I mean, I try, but we’ve moved back to 90’s crop tops and high-waisted jeans, so I’m for sure out), and what lingo the kids are saying these days. 

And if there was any doubt that I wasn’t quite there - that I had not made it all the way across that line...the last phrase in the previous sentence should have pretty much sealed the deal. 

Anyway, I basically have to rely on my friends who spend time with teenagers to keep me in the loop when and if necessary. One of these friends recently mentioned the phrase “left on read” when talking about teenagers and their cell phone habits.

Left on read? What in the world did that mean? Sounded like some bogus traffic rule to me. I had never heard that phrase before. Ever. And those of you reading are now reacting in one of two ways. You’re either: 

1. laughing at my total obliviousness because OF COURSE you know what left on read means...doesn’t everyone? Or… 

2. you’re just as confused as I was. 

So allow me to explain it to all of you #2s out there as it was explained to me. When you’ve sent a text to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/crush (so complicated) and they have read it (as indicated by the READ and time that appears below the text) but they HAVE NOT responded (the nerve), you, my friend, have been “left on read.” And apparently in the world of teenagers, this is very insulting. For those you that are my age, we’d say you’d been “dissed.”

I had to laugh at first hearing because it shows the true nature of instant gratification that our cell phones have born in us - that we feel we have to respond instantly to a text message or we’re being rude to the sender. Or that we owe the sender a response of some sort even if one isn’t necessary. Is ending a conversation really that offensive? Maybe these days it is. 

And while I still don’t fully understand the mentality behind the phrase, the Lord has used it to teach me a deeper spiritual lesson. How often do I leave His word “on read?” Meaning...how often do I sit down to have my quiet time or do my Bible study or study for a lesson and when I’m done, I leave those words, thoughts, and lessons right there on the marked up pages of my Bible? Why is it that I’m so content to read and not as compelled to respond? 

James 1:22 reminds us “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

If James were a teenager these days he’d have said: God don’t wanna be left on read. If you do this, you’re trippin’. Okay, maybe not that last part. Man, I’m old. 

Anyway, the point is that we are to read and study and ALSO be ready to respond in thought, word, and action…lest we be deceived. The deceit comes in when we are content to believe that it is enough to simply read the Bible, check that off our list, and go on about our business. This is exactly what the enemy wants from us! He wants us so complacent in our Bible reading that it has absolutely no affect on our daily lives. And in turn, we have absolutely no affect on the world around us for the Kingdom of God. We’re just Bible readers. But we’re not Bible doers. And while reading God’s word is most definitely a necessary spiritual discipline, we must also apply it to our lives for it to truly be transformational. 

And it is most definitely God’s desire for us to be transformed! That’s why He speaks to us. That’s why He’s given us the Holy Spirit to help us. That’s why He’s inspired many people many years ago to write down His story and His words that are still just as applicable for us today. And that’s why He implores us to read and study them and to remember them and meditate on them and let them shape the way that we think and speak and act. 

Because His word is powerful and has the ability to change our hearts and change our lives if only we’ll let it. If only we’ll respond. 

Let’s never again allow God’s word to be “left on read.”

Megan Woodham