Occasionally I am aware that I have lived a pretty long, interesting life. I do not lament this. In fact, I celebrate it. I have been lucky. Many good things have happened to me that I could not have anticipated and surely not expected. Perhaps that is why one of my favorite words is serendipity. I cannot explain why I have been lucky.
That certainly does not mean life has been easy. Anyone who has lived as long as I have has had problems and setbacks. Some of them were handed to me for no known reasons. Other problems and setbacks were of my own making. Because of stupid choices or wrong decisions, I made life harder for myself. But overall, I have made it this far and I am very grateful. With some more luck and some decent self-care, I hope to have some significant time left.
One of the amazing things in my lifetime that I like to think about are the technological advancements that I have witnessed. It sounds like I was born in the horse and buggy days! It’s not that dramatic, but when I think about it, technology has been so revolutionary. I seldom talk about this with students because it seems so preposterous that I am likely to be dismissed. And of course, if I were eighteen years old, I would have no interest in what someone my age remembers and wants to recount!
When I think about the technological developments, it is easy to think about the revolution that computers have wrought. I will admit that I am not a “techie.” In the first place I am usually oblivious to new technological inventions. Then I become aware of the early, curious techie folks begin to talk about some new thing and I have really little awareness of the thing they describe. Then more and more folks buy into the technological thing---be it computer, cell phone, etc. Finally, I climb on board to the technological bandwagon.
All this leads me to muse that in one sense I am a number. I type this on my laptop computer with my cell phone sitting beside me. I think about my cell phone. It occurs to me that I have a special number---ten digits, three of them an area code. So far as I know, I am the only one in the world with those ten numbers. If I give you those numbers, you can dial them and my phone will ring. You can even go to England or China and dial those ten numbers and we can chat!
This seems so commonplace for me, I give it little thought. Had you told me in the 1950s this would come to pass, it would have been unthinkable. I have to laugh at the technological advancement that I have experienced and always come to take for granted. There is no way I want to return to my earlier phone days on the farm when we had a four or five digit number that enabled us to be on a party line!
All this brought me to a spiritual awareness. My cell phone number prompted me to think of an analogy. It seems to me that each one of us is unique to God in the same way as my phone number is unique to me. Of course, I do not think you or I literally have a number that correlates with our relationship to God. But we are unique. God calls you differently than God calls me. I would like to think God has our number from birth.
Like technological advancement, we go through a process of discovery and development. At some point in life, we begin to discover that we are uniquely linked to God. God has a special concern (number) for you and for me. God loves us all, but God loves us all uniquely. This does not feel cheap to me. In fact, it feels lavish---God is a lavish Lover!
Discovery that we are uniquely connected to God---that God has our number---is only the beginning. We can choose to know this and dismiss it. Too many of us have put the “God-phone” on mute or silence! God can call, but we won’t hear it. And if we hear it, we ignore it. On the other hand, we can take the discovery that we are special in God’s eyes and begin to develop what this means.
If I want to develop---as I have wanted---then we answer God’s calls. I have tried to answer God’s call on my life. When my number rings, I have tried to be obedient. For me personally, this has had some vocational implications. That might be true for others. Sometimes God’s call is avocational. It has nothing to do with your particular kind of work---or no work, if you are retired. Nevertheless God’s call on your life has implications.
God’s ring may be a clarion call to be involved in some special ministries. It may be as general as simply being a loving human being who works for peace and reconciliation. It can be as profound as serving folks in your church, in your neighborhood or community. Some are called to go half way around the world. Some are called to go around the block.
I am touched and pleased to know that God has my number. As with my cell phone, I have grown to the place where I think I even have God on “caller ID!” Of course, I don’t have a little window that lights up with the caller’s name, but when God calls, I know it is specifically for me and that it is my God who is calling. Amazing!