We were laughing so hard I was afraid my parents might choke on their bagels.

I’d picked up the bagels and schmear (schmear is slang for cream cheese, since that’s what you do to get it on the bagel). It’s become a tradition to bring my parents’ breakfast before the weekly interview with my dad for his biography.* Before I got there, my mom had called on my new cell phone. She wondered if I’d picked up any plain schmear.

Trying to answer as I juggled the phone, steering wheel and stick shift—while heading uphill for a left turn—was tricky. Still, I was pleased that Mom had called. I’d e-mailed the new number and since Mom has only recently consented to the use of e-mail I didn’t think she was checking it too often. She is, as my dad describes her, technology-resistant.” Having a 21-year-old grandson in Texas has coaxed her into the world of cyberspace, a world, by the way, which she is certain has it in for her personally. Her revenge consists of refusing to learn how to send instant messages, or do anything other than send and receive regular e-mail.

Now lest you think I am disrespectful of my mother, she is a highly intelligent woman who is good-natured enough to laugh at her own foibles. Dad and I enjoy laughing with her. Which is why I was afraid they were going to choke on their bagels. (I may have been in danger of the same, but we Jews are not supposed to worry about ourselves; we are only allowed to imagine dire consequences for loved ones.)

Anyway, I’d innocently mentioned how glad I was that Mom was using my new number. That’s when Dad informed me, “Your mother has a cell phone, but she never turns it on.” Then he added with a droll smile, “She’s afraid if she turns it on, someone might call her.” His comment crossed the line from cute to funny, as Mom confirmed it as a true statement. “I don’t want anyone to call because I don’t know how to answer the phone,” she admitted.

Before we finished laughing about that, Dad managed to tell me, “And she keeps her phone number a mystery too.”

I looked at him in disbelief. “You don’t know Mom’s cell phone number?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head along with everything else that was shaking with laughter. “She won’t tell me.”

I looked at my mother who was trying to swallow the bagel before gasping, “I’m not exactly keeping it from you—I don’t even know the number.”

“But Ceil, I keep telling you—it’s on the bill. Just look at the bill,” my dad said, tears practically streaming down his face.

Which points to something rather astonishing. Mom is willing to pay for a cell phone that she won’t turn on because if anyone called she wouldn’t know how to answer. Come to think of it, why would she want to answer since no one she knows, including herself, has the number? So, you might wonder, why does she have the phone? For emergencies, what else?

Later, as I drove to work I was giggling over the whole thing, but then I couldn’t help thinking how it illustrates a problem I sometimes have. Maybe you can relate.

God gives us direct access to Him so that we can have two-way communication at any time. We don’t have to be in a church building. We don’t have to be at a prayer meeting. It doesn’t have to be a specific time of day. Anywhere, anytime, we can talk to Him. That communication takes place mostly through prayer and reading His Word. But how often do we fail to “turn on” this wonderful access? Is it because we think we don’t have time? Or is it because if we open God’s Word, if we open up our hearts to that line of communication, Someone might call? And we would have to figure out how to answer.

God has our number even if we don’t. He has things to tell us. He wants to call. He paid the bill at Calvary for unlimited “anytime” minutes so that we could come to Him whenever…not just for emergencies. I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad Almighty God made Himself so accessible to us. I hope by the power of His Holy Spirit to return the favor.

(*Those of you who have been with us for a while know my father, Moishe Rosen. Don’t look for his biography this year, but it should be out sometime by the end of 2001.)