O, for a Thousand Linemen to Sing!

By David Williamson.

While on my usual neighborhood walk, I noticed a cable company employee working below the ground to establish an electrical connection that would establish an internet connection to several homes in the area. Spontaneously, I recalled the old song “Wichita Lineman,” and started singing – well, humming, actually – the words of that Glenn Campbelll classic.

I wondered about the work of a lineman, and went to O-Net to find more information. Are there ways in which this work reflects something of God’s design and intent? Does it reflect the purpose of God?

A lineman is employed to begin or repair electrical service, usually after damage, such as by a storm. This requires sufficient training, and special attention to the considerable dangers involved in working with high-powered electrical lines.

I am writing this post while hurricane Ian is tearing up the west coast of Florida. Power lines are down, making essential communication acutely important – and, at the same time, acutely difficult.

I also write this with the benefit of all sorts of high-tech communication tools – resources that have become available through human labor. These new tools might even suggest to some that traditional power lines are not as important as they previously were. Yet the hurricane highlights our need for the now-downed power lines.

Hence it also highlights the critical work of linemen. They restore the connections tying us all together.

I am thanking God for this life-giving and life-saving communication capacity. A good connection made possible by a skilled lineman can literally make a life-or-death difference.

Making the connection between the source of power, electricity, and its use by consumers certainly mirrors the God of creation, who makes all sorts of connections to deliver to people the power they need to do their work, and relate to each other in more constructive and productive ways. Connecting, particularly for communication, seems to acknowledge and affirm that God connects people to one another and to his wider purposes. (Often he connects them to his wider purposes by connecting them to one another!)

Connection – people to people, and God to people – is important. Both are central to God’s purpose from the beginning. We need these connections even more than want them.

The lineman is often putting their own life in danger. They must learn to work carefully and skillfully in handling this powerful resource. They must also be properly “grounded” to ensure the power does not get out of control.

Contemplating the risks they take and the training and extra labor they endure, my thoughts go to those who communicate biblical knowledge, with all its enormous power, and how we too must learn to work carefully and skillfully for the same reason. Scripture is full of power that we must not take lightly or treat cavalierly. We are not the power, but the instruments – the lines – though which the power can flow. And we, too, must be properly grounded.

And, of course, we often rely on the wires and the electrical power provided by linemen in order to “tell it over the mountains, hills and everywhere, that Jesus Christ is born!” O, for a thousand wires to sing our great redeemer’s praise!

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