What is your response when the phone rings? All depends…
The phone rings, you pick it up and immediately feel a gag reflex. That relative who can make a rock frown and keep a telemarketer from hanging up. You love her but you don't want to take a cross-country trip with her. She goes on and on and on and on. Without breathing. Or pausing. Or listening. You could set the phone down on the coffee table, do your laundry, return in half an hour to say, "uh-huh" and she wouldn't notice. You used to try to tell her your latest news, but get out no more than, "Did you hear…". You love her, but she wears you out. You look at your spouse, who breathes a deep sigh of relief that you picked up the phone, make a horrible face and moan. You hit the mute button and almost shout, "We have GOT to get caller id!" You love her, but you don't want to get caught by her. Three days later, you pry the phone from your ear and collapse in exhaustion. Because you love her, because you know she is lonely, because you are a nice person you refuse to hang up rudely, but it is nothing but a DUTY to talk with her.
In the past year our kids, Amber and Chadd, have both spent time out of the country. Amber in Ireland, Chadd in Thailand. During those times the ringing of the phone signaled a footrace. Sheila was especially brutal at elbowing me to get to the finish line. We longed for the phone to ring because of the limited times when they could call. We'd schedule phone appointments just so we could hear their voices. The few times we missed their calls and we got the message they left on the answering machine our hearts would plunge. We just wanted to hear their voice, to know they were okay, to connect with them in some small way. The house was so quiet, our hearts were empty with their absence. If one of them called and Sheila got to talk with them while I was away, I felt cheated. We reveled in the time talking and the half hour sped by. It was nothing short of a PRIVILEGE. When they returned home, well, you'd thought we'd won the Reader's Digest Sweepstakes!
What was the difference? Same phone. Same activity. All are human voices. All take time. All are relatives.
The difference? the kind of relationship. The needy relative is distant, disconnected and a duty. The kids are our precious, treasured, heart connected loved ones and a privilege.
What is your response when God invites you to talk? All depends…
If you see God as a duty, it will be something like a gag reflex.
If you see God as a loving Dad who fills your heart with joy, it will be a longing.
Tragedy is that the most view God as a duty while He stands by longing to fill our hearts and lives with meaning, joy, encouragement, instruction, protection, wisdom and so much more. Truth is there is nothing like conversation with God. Not duty kind of talking, but real, meaningful, heart-to-heart conversation that connects us with the one Who knows us best and loves us most.
It is time to pick up the phone.
""Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Mat 7:7-11 (NIV)
(To listen to Herb via the internet go to http://www.newsongpittsburgh.org/sermons.htm )