One night a man had a dream that left him quite shaken upon awakening. He dreamed that after repeatedly getting a busy signal into heaven, God finally answered.
The man cried out, “I have been trying to get ahold of You for DAYS! I needed Your help but every time I tried to reach You, all I got was a busy signal. Why did You have to be unavailable when I needed You the most?”
God answered, “I’m so sorry to have missed your call. I’ve implemented a screening mechanism to eliminate prank and junk calls; so perhaps where your number has shown up previously as a frequent non-prayer call, it’s been automatically routed to a busy signal.”
The man was very upset. “What do You mean, Lord? When have I ever placed a prank call on You? That’s an unfair accusation.”
The Lord said, “Well, the new system might not be without its glitches. Let me pull up your records and let’s review them. Hmmmm…I do see your number showing up quite a few times these past few days, but I don’t see any actual calls placed to speak directly to Me. The system logs each time you say My name as a call. Wow…you do say My name…a LOT. And yes, here at end of the printout, I do see where you were indeed trying to talk to Me. Your requests, however, just got shuffled in with all the other false alarm uses of My name, and thus triggered the busy signal.
You see, I used to handle all your calls directly, because My ears are attentive to the cries of my children. Any time My name is spoken, I stop and lean in to hear the conversation. Is it to Me? Is it least about Me? But reviewing these 347 times you’ve said My name over the past month, almost none of them fell into either category. You’ve exclaimed it a few dozen times while watching the ball games, the fights, in traffic…sometimes in elation, sometimes in disgust, sometimes in surprise. You’ve typed OMG about 100 times in your recent social media texts…and said it about that many times as a casual response of fake awe to other people’s stories about nothing in particular; but again, not praising Me or talking to or about Me. You’ve uttered My name every time you’ve rolled over or stood up or climbed a long flight of stairs, when you were in pain or out of breath, when the alarm clock went off and you weren’t ready to get up; but nope…not to really get My attention…not even to complain to Me or ask for My help. Again, false alarms…like a phone call where the caller hangs up as soon as I answer it. You even said My name two or three times last Tuesday after taking a bite of your wife’s freshly-baked carrot cake. Were you perhaps thanking Me retroactively? …because you didn’t give thanks before you ate it, or any of the other meals and snacks you had over the past several weeks. A deer ran out in front of your car and startled you a couple of days ago, and you blurted out My name with a couple of other words you shouldn’t have said with or without it.
So you see, My child, I wasn’t deliberately trying to ignore your call…but you have short-circuited the prayer bells of heaven by using My name in vain. I love when you say My name as you talk to Me, or to overhear you using My name in a conversation with someone else about Me. It’s sad, however, that My very own children—not just strangers who don’t even know Me—are blurting out My name as an expletive, sending scrambled signals into the heavenlies. It’s a holy name, child, and you’ve made it common by using it as a byword…not to praise Me or speak to Me or testify of Me. You’re misusing one of the most powerful gifts you’ve been given, and you’re rendering it powerless from your own lips.”
The man woke up trembling, deeply convicted because he knew that, although it was just a dream, he had indeed done exactly what the Lord had said. He got out of bed, got on his knees, and cried bitterly. He said, “Lord, I am so sorry for the many times I have misused and abused Your precious name and the name of Your Son. I will make it a point, from this day forward, to use Your name only when I’m speaking to You or about You! Forgive me for all the times You bent Your ear from heaven in response to my words, only to find out I wasn’t talking or even thinking about You at all…just blurting out empty false alarm words. I will reverence Your name for the rest of my life; and in the future when You hear it from my lips, it will be something worth lending Your attention to.”
So how about it, friend? Are you (like me), guilty of sometimes idly invoking the name of God or Jesus in times when there’s no prayer, no praise, no testimony? I’m convicted in my own heart to do better…I pray you will be, too. Let’s not disappoint the Creator of the Universe who took time to hear us even mention His name. Of course, He has no telephone answering machine, no screening service…but even in the Ten Commandments, we are instructed not to take His name in vain. We are also told that we will give account for every idle word. What do you say we work on this together? Let’s please Him when He hears us use His name. It may hasten the answer of our prayers, heighten the level of priority, when our use of that holy name is reserved only for special communication that doesn’t fall into the “junk call” category…