Now let me add another one: “Customer Service.” Maybe technology has revolutionized the business model here in America, but I’m not sure I like the finished product. For now, if you have a problem with a product or service, how do you contact a company? Especially if they aren’t local? Either via a convoluted web-site or—gulp--by phone.
That’s the case even with our Federal Government and the Social Security Administration. A few years back, I noticed that the annual statement of earnings they sent me was incorrect. So I called the 800-number. What did I get? A rather confusing voice mail system calculated, I’m sure, to weed out 90% + of the callers via contrition or confusion.
But I persevered. And finally I got a live person on the other end of the phone. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, Monster’s Inc, but if you did, perhaps you remember Roz, the file clerk and that nasal, grating voice of hers? (Ask my daughter for her Roz imitation. It’s rather good.) Anyway, I got Roz at the SSA. Same voice! And—unfortunately--the same attitude as in the movie! It was not good. If Roz had ever taken any customer service training, it must have been from Attila the Hun Incorporated. Within 10 seconds, Roz had me regretting that I had ever made the phone call. I had obviously interrupted and ruined what was otherwise a perfectly good day for her. As her nasal voice snarled at me through the phone, I soon came to question whether retirement was all it’s cracked up to be.
Do you have your own horror stories to share about terrible customer service? About companies that hide behind their voicemail drawbridge and moat? Companies that never return phone calls or emails, or when they do--offer flimsy excuses or generic answers that don’t help us one bit?
Then before our blood pressure spikes yet again, I suggest we pause to read Psalm 65 and notice how David addresses our Lord. “You who hear prayer.” (verse 2) Always! Patiently! Carefully! When we come to our Heavenly Father in prayer, we’ll never encounter confusing voice mail (which in my humble opinion is what you are left with if you dream that you need to direct your prayers through Mary or the saints). We’ll never be put on hold. We’ll never have to leave a message, because God’s out on break or on vacation.
Even better? Our Lord will always be able to help us, because “He establishes the mountains by his power. He has wrapped himself with strength. He stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the peoples.” (Psalm 65:6) There is nothing our Lord cannot do! A mere “Peace, be still” from the lips of our Savior was enough to calm a deadly waterspout on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4:35ff) Are there really storms in our lives that are too big for the Lord to calm? Pray about this, the next time a storm of worry and tension is raging in your heart.
And as you pray, treasure this news above all else! David assures us, “The record of my guilt overpowered me. You atone for our rebellious acts.” (Psalm 65:3) David’s words begin with a painfully personal confession. From other places in Scripture, we know what “record of. . .guilt” overwhelmed David, what sins caused his “bones to waste away as he groaned all day long,” what sins so tormented his conscience that it was as if his soul was wilting under the withering heat of a 110 degree, humid summer day. (Psalm 32, passim) David’s sin was this: the day came when he loved pleasure more than His Lord. So instead of leading his troops into battle, he stayed home and enjoyed the easy life. That led to his fateful tryst with Bathsheba. That in turn led to the attempted cover-up by the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.
And what did David deserve for his sins? He was an idolator who bowed down at the altar of pleasure. He was an adulterer who stole another man’s wife. He was a murderer. If ever the sentence fit the crime, it seems tailor made for King David: “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)
But what did David get from the God who answers prayer? “You atone for our rebellious acts.” What does that mean? David tells us if we pay close attention to the word “atone”. God covered our sins! And David’s Hebrew says even more! God has covered our sins by sprinkling blood on them. What blood? The Apostle John, in the New Testament, picks up on David’s Old Testament picture when he says, “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
This is the greatest and grandest answer to any of our prayers! That we no longer need to run or hide from a righteous and holy God. Instead, restored to the Lord through the gracious work of His son, we can shout, “How blessed is the one you choose and bring near! He will dwell in your courtyards.” (Psalm 65:4) Our gracious Lord invites us to “be satisfied by the goodness of your house, by the holiness of your temple.” (Psalm 65:4) Our beautiful church shouldn’t be the last place on earth we’d want to visit, but the first, because here we learn that we’ve got a God who answers prayer. And when He does, his answers are blanketed by his pure grace and backed by his limitless power!
I have a few customer service calls to make this week. I’m not sure whether any or all of them will go well. But when I bow my head, fold my hands, and pour out my heart to my Father? I know he listens to every word—even when I ramble. I know he always answers in the way that is best for me. And I know all this because I come before my Father’s throne in the name of the One who bought and paid (atoned) for me. I pray you know all this, too.
Rev. Glenn Schwanke