Sparing a thought for God
God said, “ Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”. Jer 33:3
Anyone of a ‘certain age’ will remember when phone numbers had names and not just a string of numbers to remember them by. So if I close my eyes and let my mind slide back to childhood my old home number still pops into mind even after all these years. Wordsworth 5437. It has a feel about it, a touch of romance that modern numbers have lost.
So the bible verse above is often known as Jeremiah’s, or sometimes God’s, telephone number: Jeremiah 33:3. Because in it God sends us an important message about getting in touch with him: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things”.
Great because they are of God and about God.
Unsearchable because they can only be given to us by God as a gift of his grace, we cannot find them out for ourselves no matter how much we pour over books or listen to well-meaning sermons. They are of the divine. So things we cannot know about him by any effort of our own. They have to be revealed to us by God and God alone.
And supreme among these things is his very presence.
That brings to mind an experience many of us have shared during the Covid Lock-down which is missing being able to meet with friends but most especially our nearest and dearest, our families, parents, children and grandchildren. Missing the pleasure of being in their presence and the joy of physical contact of being able to hug them. Speaking personally that is what Audrey and I have missed by far and away the most.
So that brings me back to our verse from Jeremiah and that invitation from God to “call to me and I will answer you”.
I believe there is a hint of longing in his words, the longing of a loving Father for his children, a longing and yearning for us to turn our faces his way. A longing that is every bit as real as we have felt during the Covid lock-down. He longs for us to simply be with Him and all-importantly want to be with him..
And the vehicle for that, as we know, is through prayer. And if ever there was something we Christians can get ourselves in a tangle over it’s prayer. What should be a natural part of our loving relationship – we make complicated. What should be simple, honest, heartfelt words we make unnecessarily religious.
Sometimes we simply feel inadequate doing it, embarrassed at our stumbling words, faltering phrases. But our loving Father isn’t calling for clever words or perfectly honed phrases or lists of things we feel we ought to be praying about because they seem more worthy. Above everything, I believe, he longs for what you and I long for in our earthly relationships with those we love, which is simply to be in each others presence. A meeting of hearts more than minds. Of feelings more than words. Many of us will know the joy of young children running up to greet us, of grandchildren calling out our name.
Is Our loving Father any different? Does he love you and me any less than this? You know the answer to this as well as anyone. You know it’s no, no, no and no. You know he loved us so much he sent Jesus to die for us. You know that same love still pours out from a bottomless wellspring throughout all creation and for all time.
So you know our loving Father is waiting, longing, hoping for our call.