April 5, 2010
Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
As you might suspect, overnight backpacking is a popular activity in the Grand Canyon. Just how many people indulge in it, though, came as a shock to me: roughly 11,500 permits are issued each year!
The procedure of obtaining those coveted pieces of paper has been deemed so competitive and unfair that the park has now changed the system. Before, backpackers could obtain their permits either by showing up in person the first day of the month, four months prior to the proposed start month of the hike, or by faxing or mailing in the request to arrive on that day. That method favored those who lived near the park or could fly in just to get a permit, neither of which was usually doable to the average hiker.
Now, everyone has to fax or mail in the advance reservations (you can read the details of the process here). The unfortunate part is that those who fax will still be in for hours of redialing because of the demand. Eventually the park plans to move to an online system, which will make things a lot easier, but it seems the competition for those permits will continue to remain fierce.
When I read about this in a little article in our local paper, I thought about a collection of goofy or unusual LP cuts that my family and I listened to over and over again when I was growing up, including “The Christmas Song” by The Chipmunks; The Old Philosopher; and Andy Griffith’s monologue, “What It Was, Was Football.” Several years ago, my husband Joe got them from my mom and put them all on a cassette, then more recently on a CD. I occasionally listen to it and am immediately transported back to my childhood.
Two of the songs are by Stuart Hamblen, including “This Old House“ (he also wrote “It Is No Secret What God Can Do” by the way, one of my mom’s favorites). But the Hamblen song that especially fascinated me as a kid is, “When the Lord Picks Up the Phone.” I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but here’s part of the lyrics:
Sometimes I feel neglected,
Sometimes, so all alone,
As through this world I wander,
With heavy heart, I stumble on.
Sometimes I lose direction,
Sometimes, can’t carry on.
‘Til in prayer, I ring the switchboard,
And my Lord picks up the phone.
The lyrics may be a bit old-fashioned and hokey, but I love the visual picture: I call, God always replies—no answering machine, no busy signal, no waiting for a return call. Immediate access to the One who’s able to listen to all the connections from all over the world, all at the same time!
Scripture is full of examples of all sorts of people calling out to God in a variety of circumstances, in times of trouble and in everyday situations. I know some may disagree, but I believe the Bible indicates that God doesn’t wait for a person to get his or her act together before He listens and acts—that’s how gracious and merciful He is!
The flip side of the coin is, of course, that we must believe He’s at the switchboard, even if it’s just a tiny flicker of faith (Matthew 17:20), or comes with honest wavering (Mark 9:24). The writer of Hebrews sums it up best later in his epistle: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (11:7).
No matter where you are in your relationship with your Heavenly Father, I hope you regularly pick up the phone and call Him. He’s always eager to hear from you.