Keeping the line open

In this age of computers, we are so spoiled. We’re used to convenience, and our society thinks faster must certainly be better. Do you remember your first computer? How about the first computer that connected to the Internet? I remember the awe I felt thinking that anything I wanted to find might be out there somewhere. I could get to it from home. I didn’t have to go to the library. I remember the long waits while I waited for the computer to boot up. I’d hit the on button, and go fix a snack, or go to the bathroom, or pick up the living room. Then I’d come back in and start the Internet connection. We all know the bouncy, staccato sound of the signal from the computer as it tries to make that connection. Then static, and then, finally, we were there. The connection felt so fragile, so tenuous. But it would usually hold. Even weak, it was better than not having it at all.

The worst part was having to tie up the phone lines in order to get onto e-mail and send a message. It was so much quicker to call someone than to go through the lengthy process of logging on to the computer and then to the Internet and then waiting as it sent tiny little bytes of information slowly across those lines. But now this has all changed. With my high-speed Internet, it runs in the background, sharing the phone line, remaining on as long as the computer is on. It’s only a second away if I need it. It allows, for all intents and purposes, instantaneous communication.

I think this relates to Paul’s meaning in I Thessalonians when he exhorts us to pray without ceasing. He doesn’t say to come in and pray, and then go out, and then when the next thing happens, or the next thought crosses your mind, to retreat back into a prayer closet and pray about that, and then to go out and wait for the next thing. Stop. Go. Stop. Pray. Stop praying. Start again.

No, he says to pray without ceasing. To keep the connection open. Once we’ve turned on our machines, and logged in to the network, we need to remain linked. That way, when we need to get a message to Him, we don’t have to work through all the logistics and technicalities to be prepared to send it. We simply send it, immediately, no waiting. We shoot it out into cyberspace, not always understanding how it gets there, but knowing that it will, without fail, be delivered. The best part of this, though, is not in the sending, but in the receiving. I might be going about my own business, and suddenly I’ll hear a “ding.” “You’ve got mail.” He replies, He speaks, but sometimes we have to wait. He doesn’t want us to shut down the operating system and come back once a day and check to see if He had something to say; He wants us to be ready to hear from Him at all times. He wants us to stay connected; to keep the lines open. As my friend Lisa told me once, it’s like keeping a radio on in the background. Always transmitting, always receiving a broadcast. We just have to learn to stay tuned and listen.

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