Even now, it’s there, waiting patiently in the corner of your screen. Waiting for you to get tired. Waiting for you to lose interest.
The red X.
It isn’t always a red X, of course. Depending on your operating system of choice, it might be a sideways triangle or a red circle or a circumscribed square, but they all serve the same function:
That button is your ticket out of here.
If this page gets boring; if I spend too much time talking about something you don’t care about, you don’t have to stay. With the click of a button, you can disappear off this page forever, and there isn’t a thing I can do to stop you.
And let’s be honest—the Internet is filled with a lot of reasons to employ the services of the red X. There are sites that are written in barely comprehensible English, clearly written in a desperate attempt to pilfer more traffic from Google. There are other sites so filled with ads and poor design that getting to the actual content of the page is more trouble than it’s worth. Some sites are unreadable walls of poorly formatted text, while others are slow-loading behemoths stuffed with a thousand high-resolution images and auto playing videos you never asked to see.
When you come across something online that you don’t want to see anymore, you don’t have to. That’s the beauty of the red X. Leaving—disappearing without a trace—is always an option.
The problem comes when we take the red X off the Internet and into real life. At its core, the red X is permission to leave when something stops being interesting, when it takes longer than we expected, when we’d rather be doing something else. That’s fine online, but when it comes to our jobs, our friendships, our commitments, our marriages, and our calling, that approach is absolutely disastrous.
The worst part is that I don’t have to ask you to imagine those scenarios, because you’ve probably already seen them all. How many commitments have you seen broken simply because someone stopped caring enough to follow through? What about marriages that fell apart when things got difficult? The red X mentality assures us that it’s okay, that we’re justified in walking away if things start taking too long, or if they get boring or hard to understand. If whatever has our attention at the moment isn’t absolutely riveting, then there’s probably another page out there that does it better, takes less of our time, and offers us more. No need to wait around here.
In terms of web design, God’s way ranks poorly. We’re promised long loading times when pursuing character, our most important book is a wall of text with terrible formatting and no pictures, and our adversary is cramming our lives full of advertisements for thing we never asked to see—and yet here we are.
It’s because you know.
Like the heroes of faith before you, you’ve looked beyond what’s in front of you, and you’ve seen the promises afar off. You’ve embraced them and confessed yourself to be a stranger and pilgrim on this earth (Hebrews 11:13). You understand that the Kingdom of God is more than the immediate things, more than eating and drinking, and is instead centered on righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
The red X is always there, whispering that it’s too hard, that it’s taking too long, that you can find somewhere else that looks better and loads quicker and requires less of you.
But it’s a lie, and you know it. You know that you can’t afford to spend your time looking back, because you have a row to plow and it needs to be straight (Luke 9:62). You know that there’s a way that seems right to you, and you know where it leads (Proverbs 14:12).
You know, above all, that some things are worth waiting for. Some things are worth suffering for. Some things are worth striving for.
The Kingdom of God is one of those things.
What’s more, you know that it’s one of a kind. God is God, His Kingdom is the Kingdom, and there is no alternative, no substitute, nothing that ever has been or ever will be, that can hold a candle to the future God offers (Daniel 7:14, 27).
The loading time is irrelevant. The user interface is irrelevant. The ease of use and the thousand other things that matter so much online are absolutely, one hundred percent irrelevant, because behind all that is something worth moving toward.
The red X isn’t worth it.
Until next time,