Jo's publicity photo

Author Jo Russell

For two weeks I tried every evening to reach my long-time friend, Jamie, but the phone just rang and rang. Where was the robot that quipped, “The party is not available but thrilled you’re calling. He or she will call you back. Press one to leave a message in English, two for Spanish, and leave your personalized message for up to 45 seconds or no more than 120 characters… ”

Without an answering machine, I had to guess when I could find her home among demands of work, grandkids, and being caregiver for her aging parents.

Cell phone? Uh-uh. Though I discovered pay phones have become as rare as white tigers, I learned Jamie didn’t feel she needed cellular service.

What about e-mail? Face book? Twitter? Nope. No computer.

As a last resort, I sent her a letter. For those who sneer at stamp-decorated postage, know that she got the snail mail faster than I could reach her by phone.

When I arrived at her house, Jamie had my note on her table. I then spotted Jamie’s spotlessly clean phone in olive green on the coffee table. It was an original, not the retro reproductions of today. Also, it had a rotary dial, straight out of the Kennedy era.

“Why don’t you have an answering machine?” I wondered, thinking how desperate I had been to reach her.

“I don’t need one.”

“What about your missed calls?”

“I can tell who called. That’s all I need.”

With only a rotary-dial model, what does she do for vital transactions requiring a push-button phone? I seem to need buttons every day.

When my phone rang today, I learned of all my options from a recorded voice. Unfortunately, the menu excluded pushing a button to talk to a real person.

“Thank you for your recent purchase. I’m calling to tell you the great features of the product. What do you want to do? Press or say 1 to hear more, Press or say 2 to add theft protection, Press or say 3 to get a free first aid kit, Press four to enter the sweepstakes… ”

“Hang up,” I said.

The machine responded. “I didn’t hear that. Was that a number 1?” Before it said “good-bye” and hung up on me, I pushed the off button.

Recently, I have added more technology to my world. In addition to a computer, e-mail, attachments and cell phone, I have connected to Face book, a blog, a website, PayPal, and MP-3.

“Maybe I need a G.P.S. too,” I considered. After relying on an old-fashioned road atlas to guide me on a recent trip of nearly four thousand miles where I got lost in every metro area, I thought of the popular navigation system. Actually, maybe what I need more is another kind of G.P.S.—God’s Perspective System–as I chose how many complications I want to juggle.

Is Jamie’s life less complicated because she is free of continual changes and technology?

Does my life work better because people can reach me?

We all choose our complications. But as we make decisions, we can benefit from studying a balanced look through God’s Perspective System.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on]