When I was a young lassie there was a song in the pop charts which was played, and sung, a lot. This was not because it’s words were profound or it’s music exceptional but rather because it was one of those rather banal records, with a catchy tune and nursery rhyme words. Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me, twice on the pipes if the answer is no-o-o-o.”
About a week or so ago, this tune suddenly popped into my head unbidden and unsought – that is just the sort it was although I am sure the writers would be pretty pleased to know that I can recall it with ease down so many decades. However, the trigger was something rather more thought provoking. I had receive a card of thanks from a friend for a small item I had sent to her. It was a small ceramic in the shape of a open book with the words of the serenity prayer across it’s pages. She wrote that I would be surprised (or perhaps I wouldn’t) that it was the third time in recent days that her attention had been directed to the Serenity Prayer!
The truth is I was not surprised because I have a similar experience on a number of occasions when significant events have been happening in my life. No doubt many of you will have done also. That pop tune still kept bopping around in my head, with an emphasis on the number three. Why three times? Then It came to me. The story of the boy Samuel staying with his guide and mentor Eli whose eyesight was very poor. Samuel woke in the night hearing a voice calling his name and so he went along to Eli and asked him why he had called. Eli told him that he had not called him and sent him back to bed. It happened a second time, Eli sending him back to bed. When it happened a third time Eli realised what was happening and told Samuel that if it happened again he was to reply “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”. It did happen (1Samuel 3 NIV) and Samuel had his first encounter with God as God told him what was to happen.
It has to happen three times doesn’t it? Once, easily dismissed. Twice, makes us think a bit; we probably think what a coincidence it is. But it is that third time when our attention is held and we realise there is more to it. I love the hymn that begins “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” with it’s refrain:
Here I am Lord,
Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.
There are times we get no peace until we answer the call. If we don’t answer, we will not get the peace, we may feel agitated or dissatisfied without knowing why. It may not be a calling, it might be like the Serenity Prayer, God showing something constantly until we realise there is a significance. There was a significance for me too. God had just showed me that despite my limitations he could still use me. I still had a value. That message was repeated again on Countdown, when Guest Dr Phil Hammond suggested that, in his opinion, the definition of health should be as something that has value and gives us a reason for being. Very thought provoking.
Knock three times on the ceiling……