The first time it happened, we were sure it was a coincidence. “I was talking to so-and-so the other day about such-and-such and now I can’t stop seeing ads for that exact such-and-such all over my phone! How weird is that?”
It wasn’t long before we figured out this was no coincidence at all, but Google’s brilliant marketing strategy. As technology progresses, we expect our ‘smart’ phones to be smarter, or in other words, more ‘helpful’ to us – and everyone knows a good helper begins by listening!
Whether we’re talking, messaging, searching, singing, driving, or shopping, our phones and home speakers are getting to know us. They’re working hard to determine (or prescribe) our future interests based on our current activity. The ads in my Instagram feed shift topics daily depending on what I Googled the day before. Yes, I looked up a cupcake recipe, but that doesn’t mean I plan on becoming a professional food blogger or visiting every possible cupcake bakery in my area!
It’s gotten to the point that every time something we recently mentioned shows up in another conversation, in a TV show, or even on a billboard we look around in fear and say, “Google…?” 🤨
Desire is a fickle thing. From the moment sin entered the human body, our senses have ached for all the pleasure, comfort, satisfaction, promotion, and protection the things of this world seem to offer. My desires seem to know me so well, showing up in more-than-coincidence-level form. Taking advantage of that heightened awareness, my very own sinful nature convinces me that ‘coincidence’ is, in fact, destiny.
Though we try to blame our temptation on anything (and anyone) else, James reminds us in his letter that: “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (1:14) If our desires come from within, we can’t blame our giving in to them on anyone else (not even Google!). Our attention, and therefore action, naturally defaults to our ever-shifting whims.
Just a few verses later, James gives us the antidote to our wayward desires – a Father who is not of this world who is only and always giving “good” and “perfect” gifts. Unlike my drifting desires, with Him “there is no variation or shadow due to change” (1:17). My Father knows me better than I know myself, better than my desires seem to know me, and yes, even better than Google knows me! He knew the whole me before I was born and will know the whole me at every moment for the rest of my life.
Because I have Him, I have everything I will ever need. When I’m being lured by my desires, I’m meant to remember that my Father has already given me every good gift. Positive or negative, joyful or painful, fulfilling or depleting, every circumstance has been prescribed by His desire to grow in me a greater desire for Him. That’s my destiny and there’s no such thing as a coincidence!