Another thing that doesn't happen so much anymore is making a collect call. Either you had no money or were too cheap to pay for the long distance charges, so you 'reversed' the call. Do you remember that GEICO commercial about the couple who had a baby and the new dad calls home, but doesn't want to pay, so he has the operator call collect and say the person calling is Bob Wehadababyitsaboy. His father answers and says, sorry wrong number. Collect calls were usually in emergencies or when help was needed and you believed that the person you called would pick up and accept the charges.
I was thinking about that the other day and I remember the most important collect call I ever made. I cannot tell you the exact date of that call, I can't even tell you the time. But it was a call that I hoped and prayed would be answered. It was to someone that I had never met before, but somehow I had faith that they would answer that call and would pay the bill. That collect call was to God. I could not call Him my heavenly Father yet; He had to pick up the line first. He had to reverse the charges, so that I would not have to pay and the bill would be put on His tab. So, I placed that call. And just like when I'm calling on my phone and I wait as it rings, did I dial the right number? Will the call be answered and it will be the correct party? Reminds me of Ernestine, the operator..."Five ringy dingys, Is this the party to whom I am speaking?" Yes, my call was answered, immediately and by the correct party. I had cried out, from the depths of my being and the party who I now call Father answered. He not only answered, but He paid all the charges against me. He paid with the blood of His Son Jesus. He covered every cost I had, and would ever have. He cleared my tab, then and forevermore. And then He also gave me a direct, free line to Him called the Holy Spirit. So now I never have to make a call wondering if it will be picked up. I never have to dial hoping I have the right number. All I have to do is open my mouth and speak to Him. That direct line is called prayer.
When I was first became a Christian, I had no real idea how to pray. How to talk to my Father. I did not have the best relationship with my earthly father, so I really had no good example of how to talk to Him. I remember as a child, not wanting to bother my mom or dad. Things were not the best, and I was an introverted child that would rather remain in the shadows. I would be thirsty at night, after being put to bed, but afraid to call out and ask for water. I would count in my head, and say, ok on the count of three I'll call out 'Dad'. Nope, didn't happen. I'd go to sleep thirsty. I now have a Father who never leaves me thirsty. He never leaves me begging. He never leaves me. And even though I am still introverted, I am never in the shadows.
When I went to church as a child, it was very formal. Thee's and thou's. I thought that was how you had to pray. My prayers were very short, a laundry list if you will, because I had not developed trust, nor did I have a deep relationship with my Father yet. It was like my life as a child, don't ask unless it's really important and then make it quick. It took years before I realized how much He loves me. How much He just wants to hear from me, and for me to want to hear from Him. I think a turning point came quite a few years ago. I was very sick. I truly had never been that sick before and I remember just lying there thinking I feel so bad I just want to die. And I cried out, "Papa, please just hold me, oh Papa, I need you so much'. I had never called God that before, and not sure if I have since, but that opened up something in me. It opened up an intimacy with Him that I had never had before. I was truly His child and He really did have ahold of me. I didn't have to ask, "Can you hear me now?"
It amazes me, with my small brain how one day I want nothing to do with Him, don't acknowledge or know Him at all, and then even in that place, He hears me when I cry out for salvation and forgiveness. It's like ok, here is this fetus, this being in the womb; and then bam, there she is breathing air and crying and my child. I can't wrap my mind around it. But oh how I am so thankful it is so. I have a Father who has loved me forever and will love me forever. And my pea brain can barely fathom that it's already 2018! Forever, wow, that is a long time. I am thankful that He answered that collect call from me oh so many years ago.
I am so thankful that I was on His family plan long before I ever knew it. That He not only calls me child but calls me friend. That I have a place with Him and that He is never farther than a thought away. That prayer now is a constant dialogue. Makes me think of my grandkids. You know how they can talk. Nana, what's this? Nana, can I have that? Nana, can we go outside? Nana, what's to eat? Nana, why do dogs bark? Nana, what time is it? Nana...you get the idea. There are days that the peace and quiet after they go is needed. But then I start to miss that chaos and questions and the joy of seeing the world through their eyes.
I have, you have a Father that never grows tired of hearing the sound of our voices. He never tires of our questions. He never grows weary of our observations. He never wishes we would just give Him some peace. After all, if that were the case, He never would have answered that collect call in the first place. He never would have said, "Yes this is the party to whom you are speaking". He never would have given you unlimited minutes, with no cancellation clause or change in plan. He never would have given you Himself, free, once and for all. You just had to call.