Overcoming technical difficulties in your faith

“Sounds like her, sounds like her, sounds like her…”

If a long-play record (anyone remember those?) had been spinning that day, I’d have blamed the strange repeated phrase coming from my stereo on a scratch in the vinyl. An old-fashioned skip.

But I sat in the driver’s seat of my car, my radio tuned to CBC.

Another experimental artist, I thought, like the fellow I’d heard interviewed weeks earlier. He practiced turntablism: spinning old records forward and backward, scratching and manipulating the vinyl to produce unusual sounds.

My teeth caught the rhythm of the slightly percussive loop. Started smacking together. “Clack like her, clack like her…” My hands added more percussion, tapping the steering wheel. “Clack, smack, tap, Clack smack, tap…”

I felt silly, clacking and smacking and tapping. But I didn’t stop listening, curious about what caused the audio hiccup, and how long it would continue.

After about twelve minutes, the voice seemed to shift to something more sinister. “Sounds like curse, sounds like curse…” Conspiracy theorists would have rubbed their hands together, eager to blame the government, no doubt.

I switched stations, wondering if my radio had malfunctioned, but other stations had clear signals. Back at CBC, the voice droned on. “Sounds like her, sounds like her, sounds like her…”

Having done some radio work, I understand (slightly) how airwaves whisk the signal from my studio microphone and deliver it to listeners. But I know nothing about the kind of glitch that snatches a three word phrase and bats it around like a ping pong ball for a twenty-minute stretch.

Twenty minutes later, a different voice said: “We apologize for the interruption to our usual broadcasting schedule for the last five minutes.” (Or twenty, I told my radio.) “We’ve experienced some unexpected technical difficulties.”

Technical difficulties plague our faith lives too. Most Christians can’t tell you when they last heard from God. And some of our prayer loops are so habitual we never notice that something’s broken: “Lord, provide…, Lord protect…Lord, heal…Lord, bless… Lord, provide…etc.”

Effective faith, like effective radio-communication, means paying attention to the things that keep the signal between us and God clear – and not muddying it up with interference.

God speaks clearly through the Bible, but most people prefer entertainment to study. God speaks through good pastors, but too many church-goers prefer to criticize them. (By the way, October is Clergy Appreciation Month—have you showed your support for your pastor yet?) God speaks through circumstances, but many call that coincidence. He speaks through prayer, but most of us can’t be still long enough either to listen or talk. He speaks loudly when we reach out to the lonely, hurting and needy, but most of us are too self-centered for that.

Want more than a catchy “faith loop”? Dig deep, and you’ll hear God speaking. Soon you’ll repeating a different kind of loop…

“Sounds like him, sounds like him, sounds like him…”

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1970’s flashback: Remember Ray Stevens? How about the old gospel song, “Turn Your Radio On”? Here they are…combined.