Looking at the alarm clock by my bedside, it clearly read 2:37 a.m. The loud buzzing sound was not in my head after all. Who in the world could be calling me at this hour of the night?
I grumbled to myself, sat straight up in bed and gasped. An emergency! Someone’s in the hospital! Someone has died!
All kinds of such thoughts danced through my sluggish brain as I reached for the telephone.
Pastors are on call 24/7 and never know when an emergency will summon to duty. It may be in the middle of the day, or in this case, in the middle of the night.
Many telephone calls I’m not so anxious to get.
Mr. Alexander Graham Bell has a lot of answering to do for this contraption of his.
Among telephone calls I’m not too thrilled about are those infernal automatic political calls advising me to vote for some candidate – them in particular. Like most politicians, these calls never give me an opportunity to answer them.
They unleash their spiel and then hang up, probably to go to the next phone number.
What I want to know is, why don’t these aspiring politicians ever call me when they’re not running for some ofﬁce? Why don’t they call me on my birthday and sing happy birthday to me?
Why don’t they give me their home phone number so I can call them and give them a piece of my mind?
I would like to get my hands on the person who taught these politicians how to dial phone numbers.
Another category of phone calls I am not too enthralled with are telemarketers. I have a difﬁcult time hanging up on people. As long as they want to talk I can’t, or I don’t have the heart to hang up on them.
I know they are just people doing their job. I know much of what is sold via the telephone is excellent and useful, but I do not like anyone telling me what I should be buying, especially when I have just put on the feedbag.
The only thing I have been able to do is take the conversation in hand from the very beginning. As soon as the person on the other end of the phone begins talking, I start engaging them in chitchat.
I ask about their family, about the kind of day they are having and what they plan to do on the weekend. I ask for their home phone number so I can call them back.
It has become a sport for me and I am anxious for the next phone call to come so I can tell them about my day and my plans for the weekend. After all, they called me, it is my turf.
This telephone call at 2:37 a.m. was not from a politician or a telemarketer.
When I answered the telephone, I heard a raspy voice on the other end say, “Is the reverend home? I need to ask him a question ‘bout the Bible.”
By this time, every ﬁber of my being stood at attention, ready to serve. Someone needed me, which was all I had to know to ﬂ y full-speed into action.
“Yes, this is the reverend” I responded, “how may I help you?”
“I have a biblical question for ‘ya, and I need to know right away. It’s something that has been a-bothering me and I was a-wondering if you could help me?”
“Sure,” I said, trying to ﬁgure out what the emergency could possibly be at 2:37 in the morning. What could be so important that a person could not wait a few more hours to call?“Well,” the man stammered and hiccupped. I began to be a little suspicious of the whole matter, “I just can’t believe that Jonah and the whale story. Do ‘ya really think it’s possible for a ﬁsh to swallow a man? And, how come that ﬁ sh didn’t chew Jonah up before swallowing?”
The whole picture became clear at that moment. His problem was not with the whale swallowing Jonah, but with him swallowing a tank full of libations. His pick-me-up at 2:37 in the morning got me down, if you know what I mean.
I suppose that if you want to drink alcoholic beverages, I can’t stop you. Personally, I think it is the scourge of our country and has done more damage to our society than any other single thing. However, that is your decision, bad though it may be.
I do not mind if you telephone me at 2:37 in the morning. I do not mind answering biblical questions. The truth is, I enjoy such employment whenever I can ﬁnd it and I work rather cheap.
What I do mind is, when you drink and then phone me at 2:37 in the morning from a local bar. I do not discuss biblical enquiries with someone tanked, regardless of the time of night or day.
Call me crazy, call me quirky but please, do not call me drunk. Some people ask questions, not because they want information. They just want to waste someone’s time.
As a Christian, I have an obligation to give answers. The Bible says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)
For the sincere inquirer there are answers. More importantly, there is hope – in Jesus Christ.
[Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687- 4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@ att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.]