Would you like a burp with that hic­cup?

Record Observer - - NEWS -

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 fly 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 fish 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 web­site is www. whatafel­low­ship.com.

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