The Author

Telephone

If you have tried to contact the church over the last ten days or so, you probably noticed that it was not an easy thing to do, at least up until a couple of days ago. When you rang any of our four numbers, you received one of two responses. Either it rang endlessly, or until you gave up, or, strangely and only for a little while, you received a computer generated message that said, “the number you have dialed is no longer a working number.” I suspect that some of you may have wondered what was going on at the church. Was no one working, or had we all called it quits after 140 years?

We were indeed working, even the telephone people. It took them a few days to get around to us once we alerted them that our phones were out, but once they did, they kept showing up until the problem was solved. It seems that it was not a particularly easy mystery to crack.

Our first technician did his magic with a little machine that told him the problem was not with our wires, but “somewhere else.” When I asked him what that meant, he said that it indicated a problem about a mile away. The last time I saw him, he was driving away, I suppose at least a mile away. I’m not sure what he did, but on Saturday morning, our phones worked. For about five minutes. When I called the telephone company on Monday morning to alert them to the problem, the young woman who has to deal with these problems all the time told me in a nice, patient voice that “our records indicate that you had service on Saturday morning.” In almost as nice and patient a voice, I indicated that was no longer the case. She said that they would get there as soon as they could.

Amazingly, within the hour, they were there. All day someone wandered around the building, the property, the “magic mile,” to no avail. All their equipment proved to be of no value in tracking down the gremlins that were infecting the phone system. Monday evening came, and still no service.

As it turns out, it wasn’t gremlins. Early Tuesday morning, a new tech was on site, his only special equipment a bucket truck that would lift him high on a pole about a mile away. As he dug among the wires, he discovered the problem. A squirrel had used ours for lunch, or maybe a nest. What we know for sure, in the words of the tech, “it was a mess.” The great mystery of it all is that ours were the only wires he chewed. No one else in the area had called to report a problem. An hour later, service was restored.

The phones were fixed when a man was willing to climb a pole to get into the mess of those wires. It reminds me of another time when another man climbed a pole to get into the mess of another brokenness. That time, what was fixed were not phones but lives. The good news is that, unlike phones that can go on the blink without notice, those lives are fixed forever. That is what happens when the one who made us is the one who repairs us.