We’re back home from our trip to Montana and several of our national parks. We were in Yellowstone on July 3rd and then we headed to northwestern Montana to visit Glacier National Park. My father never made it to Yellowstone, although he got close – all the way to Cody, Wyoming – close but no cigar, as they say… Personally, I liked Glacier a little better than Yellowstone. After all, I am not big on crowds and Yellowstone is packed – particularly this time of year when kids are out of school and the weather is great. Attractions such as Old Faithful really draw visitors to the Park which hosted more than 3 million visitors last year, most of them between June and September. By contrast, Glacier has about 2.2 million guests each year and the difference from Yellowstone is noticeable.
While the Beartooth Highway ride into Yellowstone is unbelievable, the Going to the Sun route, inside Glacier National Park, is perhaps even more spectacular. But this post tonight isn’t about the beauty of the parks or their relative statistics; it is about how we communicate with one another. Because cellular phone coverage out west is much different from the AT&T coverage we enjoy here in the midwest. And I don’t think it is only our carrier. It was a common theme that most guests in the parks had trouble with their mobile phones.
In all honesty, I kind of enjoyed limited access by phone for most of the week. I talk thousands of minutes on my mobile phone each month – and it was nice to be out of range from time to time. I have made it a practice to be available to clients almost 24/7 for so many years now that it has become second nature to me. But, unfortunately, there was a critical situation that demanded my attention as we were entering Glacier. And sure enough, at an important point in the conversation, the phone went dead and I was unable to weigh in with my recommendations. I thought I would be able to re-connect as we ascended higher into the park, but it wasn’t to be.
As we came to our destination at the McDonald Lodge, located on a lake, we parked and walked toward the pier to take a short lake cruise. There, in the middle of the path to the front door of the lodge was an old fashioned pay phone. Now the lodge was built 100 years ago and was beautifully appointed, but I had no idea that there would actually be a pay phone on the front walk. Talk about fortuitous – just perfect. My mind was immediately taken back to when we didn’t have cell phones and if you wanted to make a call from anywhere but your home, you had to find a coin operated pay phone. While still highly prized by collectors, they are rather rare in the real world these days, but there one was, exactly when I needed it.
How many times I remember putting a dime in the slot to dial a local number. Well, this phone required 4 quarters for 4 minutes – anywhere in the continental US. Janet had enough change and sure enough, the familiar clanking of the coins and the connecting of the line was quick to follow. As the phone was answered on the other end, that old-fashioned hum that is so indelibly imprinted on my brain became a reality and we talked as the phone picked up static and various levels of noise. It’s so strange because we have become used to extremely high quality communications and my experience took me back to a bygone era when we didn’t know any better and the technology hadn’t become advanced enough to spoil us.
I got to thinking about how much we take communication for granted. We all carry cell phones and can instantly connect almost anywhere in the world. But when your phone isn’t working, you are at the mercy of whatever land line you can find. It’s a good thing our communications with God aren’t dependent on the phone lines. Nope – you can get instantly connected to the Creator of the Universe anytime you want – and you don’t even need any quarters – it’s a free call…
The verse for this evening comes from Jude 20, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” This verse lets us know that we can ask the Holy Spirit for assistance and we are assured that our prayer will get through. My encouragement this evening is that we always have direct and complete access to God – it’s even easier than making a cell phone call. My prayer is that you will take advantage of your direct access every chance you get. Although God knows everything about you, He enjoys it when you reach out to Him. And that means wherever you are – whatever the time. He’s there for you… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…