On the Saturday evening of Labor Day weekend, Fort Smith experienced an electrical storm with some much needed rain. When we opened the church office the following Tuesday for "work as usual," there was no work as usual. The thunderstorm had sent us an electrical surge. The surge burned out a card in the telephone central control panel.

The result: our phone system was dead. Incoming calls could not "come in," and we had no dial tone.

"Big deal! So you were without phones! Phones are not that necessary!"

The fax machine works through the phone system. Crosswalk, a major youth gathering, occurs here September 25, 26. Some youth groups needed to fax information to Brad. It could not be done.

Our website depends on our phone system. Over a hundred thousand "hits" (contacts) a month visit our website. One reason: weekly we post sermons and new information. The sermons could not be sent to Michael Cole to post on our website.

Our internet contact relies on our phone system. It is a valuable resource in several things we do. That resource was unavailable.

E-mail messages play a key role in our daily work. One example: we send updates about our sick to members with e-mail addresses. Without phone access, there is no e-mail.

It was amazing to note the things that we commonly do that could not be done on that Tuesday. Why? No dial tone. What if a person did not understand that fax machines, websites, the internet, and e-mail depend on phone lines with a dial tone? When trouble occurred, what if that person did not know to check the dial tone first?

The popular, common view of life is the compartmentalized existence. According to this view, each of these are an independent compartment in a person's life: social life, business life, career life, family life, public relations life, recreational life, church life, etc. Compartments are not interconnected or interrelated. In fact, "success" depends on keeping compartments separated, independent, and unrelated.

We watch people all around us whose lives are falling apart. Our lives are falling apart. Why? We have not learned that every aspect of a person's life is interrelated. We have not learned that God is the dial tone. Life falls apart when we lose our dial tone.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 September 1999

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