For about a year, I have been putting off replacing my hot water heater. The one I have is working okay, but it has probably been in my house for about 20 years. Better to replace now, than be faced with an immediate emergency later. A few days ago I decided to take action. I turned to the internet and found a supplier who showed a number of models, which I narrowed down to one which had the right specifications and price. But I needed some additional information, such as costs of delivery, installation, disposal of the old unit, permit fee, etc.
The web-site of the supplier showed a phone number to call for information not shown on the web-site. My past experience in calling organizations has not always been good. Maybe that’s also been your experience. Too many times I have dialed a number as directed. After a few rings someone speaks. I hear a recorded message, which says “all of our representatives are busy at this time, but your call is important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.” The minutes go by –5, 10,15. Then they cut you off. My call is important to them? Yeah, right.
Or maybe I hear a different recorded message. “For your convenience, we invite you to use our automated system.” Then the voice give me a menu of numbers to press. But the problem is that my questions don’t fall into their neat little categories. “For my convenience”, you say. I’ll believe it when I believe we had snow in New Jersey on the 4th of July.
In this case, I went through all of that and eventually got to talk to a live person, who asked “how can I help you?”. I explained that I was considering buying this particular unit which I had on my computer screen. I told her that I needed to know some of the costs. She promptly replied by giving me the price of the unit, which was a few hundred dollars more than what the web-site was showing for that model number. I told her what the web-site said. She told me that I must have read it wrong. I then told her that I was looking at the item on the web-site at that very moment, and I did not read it wrong. Then she went on to say some things which made no sense to me, asking me if I was looking at a dotcom web-site or something else. When I asked to speak to a management person who would know just what I was talking about, she again said something I didn’t understand, but probably meant “no”. At which time I hung up.
I called the suggested phone number again, but this time when the voice announced the menu numbers, I chose the one which was the equivalent of “other”. That was a good choice. In less than five minutes I had all the information I needed. The person I spoke to also apologized for the response I received in my first call.
Now, you might wonder why I am telling this to you. You might be thinking, “what does this have to do with with the subject of HOPE, which is the theme of this blog?” Just this. People are tired of the runaround they all too often get when they contact government, non-profit agencies, and corporate organizations. People are looking , even longing, for someone who will not just say “we care”, but will actually show that they care. To put it another way, people are looking for Jesus, even if they don’t realize it.
In The Bible we find stories telling about how Jesus talks about caring for (loving) others, and demonstrates how to do that. There is a general assumption that one of the primary purposes of a pastor is to “help” the people of the church they serve. That is, to be like Jesus for them. While there is some truth to that, and as a pastor I have tried to do that, my experience, as a lay person and as a pastor, has been that many times I have needed people who cared about me. Many times I have prayed and continue to pray, expressing my hope that God would provide someone who would be there for me. That I would not be “placed on hold”. That I would not be contradicted about whatever it was at the moment that I needed. And God always fulfilled those hopes, in his time and his way. At just the right time, God always assured that people were there for me. Not churches, religions and forms of faith. People who nevertheless, were and are Christ-like people. People who God used to assure me that when I hoped for something which was in accordance with the will of God, then God would fulfill those hopes in his time and his way. People who God used to help me see and hear good news in the midst of bad news.
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
Patty Perez and Ray Gough
We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com
We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this web-site:
A Spiritual Autobiography
How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes
of an ordinary guy from Jersey City