“I don’t think we should move her. Let’s call the doctor and see if he’ll come to the house.”
My parents were obviously very worried about the severe abdominal pain I was having and how sick I was. Even in the early 1960’s it was unusual for doctors to make house calls. I was fortunate that this doctor recognized over the phone the symptoms of an appendix that was threatening to burst. His visit turned into several more over the coming days. The antibiotics gradually settled down what he referred to as a “hot belly” that he didn’t want to operate on right away.
Phone calls have been a regular part of my life. Fifty years ago my sister was a missionary for three years in Hong Kong, and my family had only two brief conversations with her at Christmas. Those calls were connected by a long distance, overseas operator. We even had to make an appointment! Today we call (or message) people constantly, all over the world.
There are other "calls" that have certain expectations. If I called on a student in class, she’d better have a good answer or admit that perhaps she wasn’t listening. Witnesses are called to testify. When war breaks out there is a call to arms. During roll call we are expected to acknowledge our presence. If a docent says, “May I call your attention to…” it’s only polite to look where he’s pointing. When the children were babies I would tell their daddy they were calling for him in the wee hours of the night.
Various people make calls. Umpires determine whether a play is fair or if there is a score. They also can call the game because of weather. I can call into question the truth of someone’s information. A pool shark calls each shot to intimidate his opponent.
My children learned early on what “calling” meant to me. When called to come in the house, they had exactly one chance to mind me before I came in person to get them. I didn’t want them to get in the habit of waiting for the second, third, or even fourth time for me to call. I also could be heard to ask, “Is that what you call a clean face?” when they later showed up at the dinner table.
As I get older, there is a question I have trouble answering. Someone asks, “What do you want me to call you?” If I give my first name, a much younger person might be uncomfortable with a less formal address. Parents of former students still call me Mrs. Vogelsang, even when we’ve gone beyond the school formalities. Of course there are certain people I can’t bring myself to call by their first name no matter how many times they insist.
God gives me many names to call Him: "Almighty" "Savior" "Redeemer" "Wonderful" "Counselor" "Everlasting Father" "Prince of Peace" "The Way, the Truth, and the Life" to name just a few. I can choose any name that fits my need, just as long as I'm calling.
Unfortunately I'm not always calling for the right reason. Sometimes I’m “calling Him to account” for some disaster. He’s the one I blame, hold responsible. I also might be tempted to ask Him to “call down a curse” on a certain odious world leader or group of people. It’s as if I’m the one who is “calling the shots,” not my God.
When I "call on" God, it can be just a loud cry for help or a demand for action. But I shouldn't have that same attitude when I "call upon" Him, as He asks me to do time and again in the Scriptures. Too often, however, I am quick to say, “Here are my requirements, my demands. Here is what You are obligated to do!”
No. I should take a different approach.
From the beginning of time, God’s people learned to call on the Lord. It’s first recorded in Genesis with Adam’s grandson, and it continued through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, and of course David in so many of his psalms.
Like those people of old, I can truly call upon the Lord... depend on Him. I too can “call to mind” all of His blessings and the countless times He’s rescued me from my own selfish actions, And that's when I find myself relying more on my Lord and His good judgment instead of ordering Him around with my calls.
Even though hundreds of years separate us from those patriarchs, prophets and kings, we aren't so different. There's one thing we all have in common. We’re all sinners who need to call on Him, sinners that He answers before we even decide to call (Isaiah 65:24 NIV). And He assures us that everyone, each person, who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! (Acts 2:21 NIV)
I love a song Petula Clark made famous in 1965. “Call Me” has so many phrases that could be spoken by our God. It’s like one of those old fashioned “person-to-person” calls: "Call Me when you’re feeling sad and lonely, when your friends desert you, even if it’s late at night. Don’t be afraid, you can trust Me, I’ll never hurt you. I will always stay by you, I’m thinking of you… because I love you!"
How wonderful to know I have a direct line to my Lord. I don’t need anyone to make the connection for me. He’s always ready for a personal chat with me. Even though God asks me time and again to call upon Him, He doesn’t hold it against me when I forget or choose to depend on myself.
And thank goodness I don’t have to call out to Him three or four times before He listens to me. He makes house calls too, no matter what the time or place.
I know my Lord Jesus is really with me, right there in person to talk with me. After all that’s His name. That’s what He told me to call Him… God with us… Immanuel!