Cartoon Illustration: An editorial cartoon in the Akron Beacon-Journal showed a middle-aged man lying prostrate on the floor, choking and gasping for breath. Just two feet away his kid is surfing the Internet—this is before high-speed DSL lines—so the phone line is tied up. He casually shrugs: “Come on, Pop, if I call 911 I’ll lose my America On Line connection.” At the time the strip ran, AOL had been facing gigantic problems, PR-wise, trying to provide enough phone lines to computer users. A busy signal was very common whenever logging on.
Telephone Tag: Have you spent whole mornings wearing out both your index finger and your patience levels playing telephone tag with that elusive person who’s simply never in? You miss them by one minute, and it takes forty rounds of back and before you finally hear their voice.
Good News About Prayer: With prayer . . .
1. You never get a busy signal
2. Lines are never tied up
3. Circuits are never down or out of commission
4. You get through on the very first try every time
Song: An old spiritual goes: “Jesus on the main line; tell Him what you want. Call Him up and tell Him what you want.” The next verse adds: “His line is never busy; tell Him what you want.”
King David: he knew something about desperation dialing, and praised God for the open lines to the Kingdom. Psalm 139:7, 8: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths”—in Sheol, says the Hebrew—“You are there.” In the King James: “If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.”
Bad News or Good? For a person trying to get away from God—like Jonah—that might be disturbing news. But David is rejoicing that God is accessible from any corner of the universe.
More Musical Testimony: In the great Christian hymn written by Isaac Watts back in the early 1700s, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, the last line of verse three reads: “There’s not a place where we can flee, but God is present there.”
Anywhere Will Do: your location doesn’t matter. Your sinfulness doesn’t matter. Your past record doesn’t matter. There’s no spot on planet earth where the lines are cut.
International Long Distance: Before rates tumbled and people began talking around the globe for free using a Skype Internet connection, it took serious calculation and a large wallet to call home from around the world. A tourist had to fumble with many coins, calculate time zone differences, and then endure the buzz and hums of fragile underwater phone cables gurgling across the entire Atlantic Ocean. But prayer to a distant heavenly kingdom is as close as a bowed head and as clear as the promises of John 3:16.
Jonah: this is a deep-sea story of a man who dialed up heaven from the most unlikely of pay phones. This man was literally in the belly of a whale, and he tried to pray from there. That’s one place where you wouldn’t want to get a busy signal or a operator’s demand for more dimes. Jonah himself confesses about the experience: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave”—it might as well have been the grave for him—“I called for help, and You listened to my cry” (Jonah 2:1).
“Cry”: A good concordance like the respected Strong’s gives 150 listings for the word “cry.” Over and over, God is saying pretty much the same thing: “I heard their cry.” “My children cried out and I heard them.” “My son cried for help, and I responded with great might and power.” We serve a God whose phone lines are never busy and whose quality of digital reception can’t be matched by today’s most aggressive digital, fiber-optic networks.
24-Hour Mercy: We don’t simply enjoy 24-hour access to heaven through prayer. It’s not just that God is available 24 hours a day; obviously we believe that to be true. But more than that, He has a willing heart, an attitude of welcome, even of waiting on that same 24-hour basis. His attitude toward you is always one of “Please call. I want you to call.” Before the first ring, He’s already picking up the receiver.
The Knowledge of the Holy, by A. W. Tozer. “In coming to Him at any time we need not wonder whether we shall find Him in a receptive mood. He is always receptive to misery and need, as well as to love and faith. He does not keep office hours nor set aside periods when He will see no one. Neither does He change His mind about anything. Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to die for mankind.”
Conclusion: This is no collection of metaphors. We use the telephone as an illustration, but the Bible truth is that God truly is that available to us. He never lets the machine pick up for Him because it’s suppertime or the NBA finals are on or He’s just not in the mood to talk to you.
Imagine the thrill of a “miracle” call:
1. A favorite celebrity calls
2. You’re the 93rd caller and win a million dollars from a radio station
3. You hear the voice of a loved one after many years of separation
Every time we get through to the Lord this week, and it’s on the first ring, let’s thank Him for that miracle of an open line.
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2008. Click here for usage guidelines.