A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Wrong Phone Number In a Small World

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
The usual response is...
I'm sorry, you have the wrong number

But after two months it became....
I'm sorry, but you have the wrong person,
or maybe not......

Let me explain.

The first call, she left a voicemail on my house phone.
She sounded like she was 102,
with a crackly voice,
and she spoke very slowly.

"Floyd, this is Emma, please call me."

Since I have never been christened a "Floyd",
I chalked it up as a wrong number.

A couple of days later,
another voice mail.

"Floyd, this is Emma, I need to talk to you"

Evidently Floyd must have a similar phone number to mine, I thought.
I let it go.

A week went by.
Then, another voice mail from Emma.

"Floyd, this is Emma,
I'm worried about you....I haven't heard from you.
Please call me."

I stared at the phone.....
okay, now I have a lady who is older than dirt worried that Floyd has been abducted.
But I didn't know how to call and tell her that Floyd was probably just fine....
just at another telephone number!

Another week....
like clockwork Emma called again during daytime hours...

"Floyd, this is Emma.
Meryl has been asking for you to visit him at the nursing home.
He's worried about you, and so am I.
Please call me."

Now she had me.............
Emma was worried,
Meryl was worried.
and for all I knew,
maybe Floyd had been abducted.

If only 102 year old ladies could tweet,
or chat, or text......
But it wouldn't matter
I am not a techie.
I have no interest in pushing buttons,
and I have no desire how to learn about the latest gizmo.

But I looked at my phone closely for the first time.
There was a button marked menu.
I pushed it.
It said, "received calls"
I pushed on that,
and up came a list of phone numbers,
including a local number that was consistent with the days and times that Emma had called.

I debated whether to call Emma.
I'd like to say that compassion motivated me,
but I was more concerned that eventually Emma,
in an effort to rescue Floyd,
would call 911
and give them my phone number.

I picked up the phone and dialed.
That now familiar, older than dirt voice answered.

Ma'am, my name is David.
My name is David.
My name is David, You have been calling for me several weeks now by mistake.
"I don't know any David"

Emma proceeded to hang up on me.

Okay, now Emma was starting to tick me off.
And I wasn't making her very happy either.

2 days later, Emma called.
"Floyd, this is Emma.
Meryl's not doing too well
and he wants to see you.
Please visit him.

Okay, now I am envisioning Meryl on his death bed,
wishing to tell Floyd his last thoughts.

Sometimes guilt can motivate you.
One more call to Emma
(without mentioning that my mother named me David).

I have been receiving calls from you about a man named Meryl.

"Oh no, is Meryl dead?"

No Ma'am,
but you have been calling me to visit him

"Is this an insurance agent?"

No Ma'am, I am a pastor.

Emma hung up on me again.
It appears she wasn't interested in a pastoral visit.

I gave up .........
sorry that Emma couldn't find the right phone number,
hoping that Floyd hadn't been abducted,
and praying that Meryl wasn't dead.

Three weeks later,
I was visiting my aunt,
in a nursing home.
It was my first visit to see her there,
so I was checking the room numbers as I walked down the hallway
Just before I got to her room, #106
room #104.........
and a gentleman named Meryl was listed.

It can't be, I thought
I can't, I tried to convince myself.
But it could be
and I could.
I knocked on the door jam and entered.

Pardon me,
but are you Meryl?
He acknowledged that he was.
Do you happen to know someone named Emma or Floyd?
He acknowledged that his wife was named Emma, and he had a friend named Floyd.

Chills went down my spine.
The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways.

I didn't bother to explain the craziness of wrong phone numbers.
But I did ask him if he wanted to pray.
He did, and we did.
He had never been a church goer,
but he believed that it wouldn't be very long till He met the Lord,
and he wanted to be ready.

I left a note at the nurse's station,
for Emma.....
Explaining to her that she had been calling me for weeks by accident,
that she needed to correct Floyd's number if she wanted to reach him,
and that I, by chance (not really) had come and met Meryl.
And if she needed any pastoral assistance, she could call me.
(She certainly knew my number)

I never heard from Emma again,
the wrong numbers ceased.
But I am convinced that nothing happens by chance,
that all that we do is ultimately under the Lord's authority,
and that He can and will use the strangest circumstances
for purposes that we can't imagine.

So if you think that God is calling the wrong person, when He calls you,
think again.
There are no wrong numbers, when it is God calling.

I know it, Meryl now knows it.
I hope you do as well.

I am the Lord.
I have called you in righteousness.
Isaiah 42:6

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