If you watch television at all, you have probably seen one of many incarnations of an ad for a wireless phone that features a young man walking about saying, "Can you hear me now? Good. Can you hear me now? Good."
I would like to hold that up today as an analogy to bring us into a shared understanding. It's pretty simple: Think of God as the one who is constantly calling out, "Can you hear me now?" And the rest of us are walking around with our spiritual cellphones turned off (or maybe set to vibrate, but we won't go there).
God has always had the most awesome wireless network in creation. Unlimited minutes? That is only the beginning. We can hear from God, any time we want, just by listening. And his friends-and-family plan has no equal! We can contact each other, at the deepest level, any time, toll free -- through prayer.
And it's not just talk. God sends down blessings, spiritual gifts, healing. He creates for us opportunities to share His love with others.
We know this, donít we? Every Sunday, we gather at a cellular tower we call a church and feel His presence clearly, only to see the reception fade as we go about our busy weeks.
I spent decades ignoring God's every attempt to communicate with me, only to wake up one day in surprise to see the "message" light blinking on that spiritual cellphone saying something like, "You have 6,275,256 missed calls."
So, let me tell you about the calls that finally got through.
I was in my late 30s before I first married a wonderful woman, Cindy, and was blessed by being step-father to her twin sons. Shortly after that, we were blessed with our own son, Parks, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth.
Doctors said he would never walk, might never speak, might never get beyond 1st grade. But Cindy and I never thought of Parks as handicapped. He lived -- and still lives -- life with an unfettered joy I've often wished I could share.
Parks did learn to walk, but his inability to communicate (now compounded by autism) was a source of frustration for all of us.
One evening, I was working with Parks hand-over-hand to write a card to inmates at a local prison. I remember wishing he could make his own.
Early the next morning, I had a dream in which God told me exactly what Parks would like to say in his letter to that inmate. I awakened with the words etched in my mind. I had never before felt that God had spoken to me, but this time I was sure enough to stagger to my computer and type in the words:
My name is Parks. I am 6 years old. I am autistic, so my dad is writing this for me.
In a way, we have a lot in common. I guess you could say we are both prisoners. I canít always communicate with my family when I want to. I canít go where I want all the time. And I canít do all the things other 6-year-olds can do. But I know God cares for both of us and wants us to do our best to live up to the promise he built into us.
Even though I am autistic, I feel blessed by God for all the things I do have. I have a mother, father and two brothers who love me and do lots of things with me. I love to ride my bike and play in the pool. I love to eat and watch basketball!
I believe that God has a special role for both you and me to play in our lives. He wants us to make the most of what he has given us. If it seems like we have a difficult road, I try to remember that God often has set the hardest tasks for those he loved the most.
I hope you will let God help you find the path that is best for you.
Even as I typed, I had doubts. Was I just making it up? Would anybody believe this letter really came from Parks? But I held on to a mustard seed of faith that God was behind it.
The letter found its way to a man the prison ministry had never expected to reach Ė a man who had an autistic brother. He was so moved he wrote back and thanked Parks personally.
I could barely comprehend this God, who used a boy who could hardly communicate and a man who barely believed in Him and made a life-changing difference in a prison inmate!
Of course, my own life was transformed as well.
I started listening to -- and trusting -- those endless messages I'd been ignoring. I asked Jesus to find a way into my heart and show me what He wanted me to do.
Since then, the blessings have been amazing.
I overcame a life-long shyness about singing in front of people, joined our church choir, worked on a Cursillo music team, and made a worship CD to raise money for the Appalachia Service Project. Now I lead music for an Alpha group that helps people learn about Christianity.
I've written a handful of songs and posted them on a web site. Every day, God leads people I will never meet to listen to those songs and possibly hear the message He wants them to receive.
Several months ago, I received an email from a woman whose 18-year-old brother had been paralyzed in an automobile accident. She had found a link to my web site on his computer and asked if I would send him a CD and a letter of encouragement.
I never heard back whether he received them, or how he is doing now. But if I need to know, God will tell me.
This very testimony is published now on a Web site devoted to Christian writers. God has given me back my passion for writing articles praising Him and His glorious kingdom.
I can almost hear Him chuckling, "Can you hear Me now? ... Good!"
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