As a little girl, when I wanted to talk to my Dad while he was at work, I would call his office. Not the office number plus an extension. Not his direct number. And certainly not his cell phone. Those didn’t exist yet. I would call the one main Maranatha Construction Company phone number.
But I wasn’t the only one who called him this way. Everyone did. And I mean, everyone. Dad was the owner of multiple companies, and if you wanted his ear, you called the one main number. Whether you were his chief superintendent, a subcontractor, someone with sports tickets, or the co-owner of his Cessna plane, everyone had to call the same number.
To manage the daily deluge of calls, my Dad had help. He had two secretaries (that’s what we called them in the ‘70s) but their titles really should have been Octopus Wranglers as my dad had his fingers in activities far and wide. Along with their many responsibilities, Jeanette and Anne answered the office phone. They filtered Dad’s calls, decided who got priority, and took stacks of phone messages on pink memo pads.
There was one name, however, that was never scribbled on a memo pad. Mine. I was the daughter of the boss. When I called, I got put straight through. Neither Jeanette nor Anne nor anyone else who answered the office phone ever screened my calls. They never asked any questions.
“Is this really that important? Your dad is pretty busy, you know.”
“Isn’t there someone else who can help you with your math homework?”
“Is there blood involved? If not, I’ll have him call you back a little later.”
And even if they had inquired, how could I have found the words to tell them that often times when I called, I just wanted to hear Dad’s voice. I needed nothing, but his “hello.” If I could hear from him, then I’d know that somehow everything would be okay.
I didn’t have a lot of friends, especially not at school. I wasn’t popular or pretty or extroverted or funny. I stuttered when I talked. But as long as I had my dad, I knew I’d be alright. As long as I had access to him, I had enough confidence to keep my head up.
On bid days, however, I could not call. Bid days were the days my dad and all the other construction companies in Denver would submitted their final bid for a particular project. In the hours immediately preceding this deadline, all of Dad’s subcontractors would call into the office with their final prices. Then Dad and his team would roll up all these costs, add in the company’s own costs, and tally one final price. There had better be blood, and a lot of it, if I dared to call during this time.
Other than bid days, my access was unlimited. And it went beyond phone calls. When my brother and I went to the office building, we could march directly into Dad’s front office. Our latest school pictures hung on the wall making me feel quite special. If Dad was talking with someone away from his desk or if he was out in the equipment yard, I’d sit in his big leather chair spinning around and ‘round.
Buried on his desk sat a metal rolodex. A small slider moved up and down along the side clicking at each letter of the alphabet. I’d fiddle with it and pop it open.
“Wow, Dad knows a lot of people under the letter M.”
“I wonder if he knows anyone with the letter Z? Yep, he sure does!”
Behind his regular desk was his drafting table. The table stood approximately 5 feet tall, was tilted forward at a slight angle, and had all sorts of blueprints and architectural plans. I’d hop up on the tall metal chair and play with his calculator while pretending to put together a bid.
100 + 20 + 15 + 300 = 435
Yep, that’s my bid, printed on a curly piece of white calculator paper.
No one ever kicked me out or told me not to mess up his office, which actually would have been quite difficult because it was very messy all on it’s own. This was the boss’ office and I was the boss’ daughter. I could draw with his pens, add up numbers with his ten-key, measure building plans with his multi-sided rulers, and look for interesting things in his drawers.
The sense of specialness that comes with access is familiar to many children the world over.
It’s the warm feeling a boy gets when the person at the sales counter looks up and says, “You’re Valorie’s son, aren’t you? Come on around the counter, buddy. Your mom is in the back room doing inventory.”
Or when the teenager enters the carpentry shop and a man covered in saw dust says, “Hey look, it’s Keith’s son! Your dad’s tools and locker are over there, kid.”
But regardless though of how loved this access to my dad made me feel, it wouldn’t last. Eventually the ten-key would go from being a toy on his desk to a tool in my office. There would come a point when I’d be ready for my own rolodex, not a metal one, but an electronic one. Ultimately I would need access to an even deeper well for confidence, love, and identity.
And Dad knew it.
In his fatherly love and wisdom, he knew my soul needed a better type of access. The kind that Tennessee Ernie Ford sang about on one of my father’s many cassette tapes. As Dad and I would cruise around Denver in his blue Bronco with the windows down, rebar sticking out the back, and blueprints rolled up on the backseat, Ford would sing:
Operator, I’d like to call long distance
Please connect me with the Lord
Give me Jesus on the line
I’d like to speak to a friend of mine
Now God is my number
Faith is the exchange
Heaven is the street
And Jesus is the name
Give me Jesus on the line
Dad knew that long-term I wouldn’t need the phone number for the boss of Maranatha Construction, I’d need the number for the King of Maranatha Construction. By granting me access to himself, Dad was merely a sign post. A living, tangible example saying:
“This special access you have to me is only a dim reflection of the unrestricted access you have to the eternal, mighty Father. Want to speak to both a friend of mine and the King of Universe? Place a call.”
Dad and the prophet Jeremiah both believed the words of the Lord:
“Call me to and I will answer you
and tell you great and mighty things,
which you do not know”
No pink memo pads, no bid days, no intermediaries. To get Jesus on the line, simply dial the same number as Moses did: N-UMB-ERS-1278:
“He (Moses) is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles.”
Oh Lord, I seek your face. I seek your voice. Do not riddle me with questions or intercept my plea with inquiries:
“Is this really that important?”
“Can’t someone else help you solve your problem?”
“Are you requesting help for an injury to the body or an injury to the soul?”
No, that is not the way of the Father. Call to Him and our prayers pass from earthly lips to the Eternal One’s ears immediately and uninhibited.
We can call “Oh Lord, have mercy” when the world, the whole wide world, is falling apart and straining under the stress of everything broken.
“Father God, come quickly to help” can be our request when the day looks overwhelming early in the morning, or like a wreck at midday, or very very dark under the moon.
The simplest of phrases, “Jesus, please!” is all it takes to establish a connection between heart and heaven.
The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help;
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Call out to Him and you get Most Merciful Jesus on the line.
But access doesn’t end there – yours or mine.
The King has an office. A throne room. I imagine Ebony wood doors stretching from floor to vaulted ceiling. Six-inch thick slabs of wood with steel-crafted hinges bolted securely in place. Awesome, mighty angels stand at attention on either side.
Come, let us approach. At the threshold, I’ll raise my palms against one door and you place yours on the other. Do we dare push them open?
Only if we believe Paul wasn’t misleading us when he said we have gained access by faith and we now stand in grace and peace with God.
The heavenly beings at the doorposts lower their gaze to us… and wink. Ah right, we need to kick off our shoes first. Holy ground is ahead. We push the doors inward, slowly at first, but then fling them open. Wide open.
Into His room we can walk. Access is granted. The veil that once separated us from God has been torn. Jesus was torn and thus the curtain was torn. Ripped right in half. I see it in my mind: the curtain hanging limp against the side walls of the room as a reminder of what was once, but now is no more.
At one time, only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies. And when he did so, a rope was tied around his foot or waist with bells attached so that if he was struck dead, he could be dragged out.
Access was once reserved, for one man, and for only once a year.
But that time is finished. Access is no longer restricted to the few, the privileged, or those deemed worthy.
Now all of us can come to the Father
through the same Holy Spirit
because of what Christ has done for us.
We can all walk into the room with the mercy seat and draw close, doing so with complete confidence.
Enter His presence daily, hourly, as often as you like and listen. Can you hear His voice from the throne? He is calling.
“Beloved, I am with you always.”
Run! Not backwards, but forwards. Toward the place from which mercy is given, justice is dispensed, and grace is poured over everything. Come near and let His goodness spin you around and ‘round.
See your picture on His wall. Find your name in His rolodex. Be assured that you are loved.
Search across His desk for the mysterious, interesting, and delightful. See the vase on top engraved with the words “mercy.” It’s refreshed every morning with fragrant blooms.
Oh look, there’s a drawer labeled
2nd 3rd 4th 77th chances. And don’t miss seeing that there’s a file for every upcoming election with all the results already known and recorded. Open it and know that the King is never unseated.
The psalmist Asaph was right:
When I tried to understand all this,
it was too difficult for me;
Until I entered the sanctuary of God
Come close and see.
Look over His drafting table at the most majestic of blueprints and the greatest of plans. What kinds of things does He tally up? Acts of faith.
What types of distances does He measure? Just how far our sins in the east are from where we stand redeemed in the west.
What do only His calculators count? The days until He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Sit and breath deeply. Stay for a while. No one is going to kick you out of His presence.
Listen, ponder, and look until you know that in ways we don’t yet understand, in ways our hearts cannot yet believe, everything is going to be okay. Let Him lift your head and quiet you with His love.
I am the boss’ daughter no longer. Special access granted to me as Bryan Penner’s daughter has ended. He waits for me besides the pearly gates, but he’s not the one who grants entry.
I am, however, always and forever a daughter of The King. And being The Almighty’s daughter gives me the very best access. His face, His throne, His mercy all mine.