Looking at the alarm clock by my bedside, it clearly read 2:37 a.m. The loud buzzing sound was not in my head after all. Who in the world could be calling me at this hour of the night?
I grumbled to myself, sat straight up in bed and gasped. An emergency! Someone’s in the hospital! Someone has died!
All kinds of such thoughts danced through my sluggish brain as I reached for the telephone.
Pastors are on call 24/7 and never know when an emergency will summon to duty. It may be in the middle of the day, or in this case, in the middle of the night.
This telephone call at 2:37 a.m. was not from a politician or a telemarketer.
When I answered the telephone, I heard a raspy voice on the other end say, “Is the reverend home? I need to ask him a question ’bout the Bible.”
By this time, every fiber of my being stood at attention, ready to serve. Someone needed me, which was all I had to know to fly full-speed into action.
“Yes, this is the reverend,” I responded, “how may I help you?”
“I have a biblical question for ’ya, and I need to know right away. It’s something that has been a-bothering me and I was a-wondering if you could help me?”
“Sure,” I said, trying to figure out what the emergency could possibly be at 2:37 in the morning. What could be so important that a person could not wait a few more hours to call?
“Well,” the man stammered and hiccuped. I began to be a little suspicious of the whole matter. “I just can’t believe that Jonah and the whale story. Do ’ya really think it’s possible for a fish to swallow a man? And, how come that fish didn’t chew Jonah up before swallowing?”
The whole picture became clear at that moment. His problem was not with the whale swallowing Jonah, but with him swallowing a tank full of libations. His pick-me-up at 2:37 in the morning got me down, if you know what I mean.
I suppose that if you want to drink alcoholic beverages, I can’t stop you. Personally, I think it is the scourge of our country and has done more damage to our society than any other single thing. However, that is your decision, bad though it may be.
I do not mind if you telephone me at 2:37 in the morning. I do not mind answering biblical questions. The truth is, I enjoy such employment whenever I can find it and I work rather cheap.
What I do mind is, when you drink and then phone me at 2:37 in the morning from a local bar. I do not discuss biblical inquiries with someone tanked, regardless of the time of night or day.
Call me crazy, call me quirky but please, do not call me drunk. Some people ask questions, not because they want information. They just want to waste someone’s time.
As a Christian, I have an obligation to give answers. The Bible says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15 King James Version)
For the sincere inquirer there are answers. More importantly, there is hope — in Jesus Christ.
Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543, 352-687-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.jamessnyderministries.com. The church website is www.whatafellowship.com.