Before HDTV there was BBTV (Big Bulky) television. Like most people, we don’t have any sets that fall into this category anymore. We got rid of most of most of them, but one I’m thinking of died in a surge of electricity when our house was struck by lightning. This happened years ago and even though we lost basically every electrical appliance (including a garage door opener and a circuit board in our heating & cooling system), I tried to keep a low profile about it. I didn’t think it sounded all that good that a preacher’s house was struck by lightning . . . . especially when it somehow managed to miss all of my neighbors—which I’m thankful for, of course.
This BBTV had about a 32″ size screen so compared to a flat panel of similar dimensions, it was huge in terms of its overall size and weight. A strong person could pick it up by themselves, but they would be filled with remorse for several days afterward.
I turned it on one day and had sound, but no picture. Finding an appliance repair place was about as difficult as it is now, so all I could think of was that I was probably looking at the expense of a new television. While pondering the situation, I delivered the bad news to our fourteen-year old daughter. There was a program she had wanted to watch about to come on so she was equally disappointed.
The next thing I know she was calling me over to the desk where she was on the computer. She had found a discussion board of people who owned the same kind of television and had experienced a similar problem. The most helpful post was by two girls who were college roommates. They had pinpointed the problem—a resistor was being overloaded. They had gone to Radio Shack and purchased one capable of handling a higher load, installed it, and their television screen came back to life. That did it for me. We got in my truck and headed down to Radio Shack and purchased the resistor (and a soldering iron). We followed the instructions the girls had posted and soon our television was working again—all for about $10.
I guess you could go in a lot of directions with this, but what I’m interested in talking about is the power of community. One wonderful thing about the internet is that it allows us to interact with so many people who would otherwise be inaccessible. This ability brings down walls and replaces them with bridges. It allows us as individuals to tap into the world’s resources rather than having to limp along on our own as isolated individuals. When used in this way, it is a wonderful blessing and example of community.
It was the same thing for Dorothy and her friends in The Wizard of Oz. Can you imagine what it would have been like for any of them if they had to travel the yellow brick road to Oz alone? Could the Tin Man have made it if he didn’t have someone to oil his joints? Would the Scarecrow have survived without the others to help him think things through? Don’t even get me started on the Cowardly Lion. The presence of others gave him the courage he needed. Having others with them made all of the difference in their journey.
We’re not so different, are we? Discouragement is a form of fear. It may not rank up there in the top ten list of things we’re afraid of, but my guess is that discouragement has brought more people down than everything on the top ten list combined. The antidote for discouragement is encouragement and it almost always comes from people. And that brings us back to the power of community. Community is one of the underappreciated ways that God helps us deal with fear.