Growing up in a little mountain town in Montana, the radio was my window on the world. There was no FM; AM radio reception was sketchy, and only those with a huge antenna could get one TV channel, KID from Idaho Falls. The closest radio station was 60 miles away and it was local news and country music, if you could get it. But if you made an effort you could widen your horizons. At night I would haul out our suitcase-sized Zenith to the back porch and fiddle with its long antenna until I positioned it just right. Then the magic would happen. I could pull in clear channel KOMA all the way from Oklahoma City. And I could listen to rock and roll! Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard—the whole top 40.
The radio was the Internet of the first half of the twentieth century, providing entertainment and news to everybody. So it’s natural that the old gospel tune “Turn Your Radio On” used the radio as a metaphor for connecting with God. The song may seem kind of corny now, but there’s some deep theology there. Consider these lyrics:
“Dontcha’ know everybody has a radio receiver
All you got to do is listen for the call
Turn your radio on, turn your radio on
If you listen in you will be a believer
Leanin’ on the truths that’ll never fall
Get in touch with God, turn your radio on.
Turn your radio on”
The “Master’s radio” station is always broadcasting; God is always reaching out to us. And we, no matter who we are or what we’ve done, are equipped to receive the “good vibrations of God’s love” and the “truths that never fall”. But we won’t be in touch with God unless we turn our radios on. Just as I had to make an effort to listen to rock and roll when I was a kid, we all have to make an effort to listen to God’s voice.
How does God work in the world? I don’t believe that God sends hurricanes to destroy sinful cities, decides that the Packers should win the Super Bowl, or puts glass in the road so my bike will get a flat tire. Rather, I believe the Holy Spirit works by speaking to the hearts and minds of those who have their radios turned on, giving them direction, comfort, and strength. Sadly, many of us spend too much time with our radios turned off or listening to the noise and static that’s all around us.
This Lenten season is a good time to consider how you can turn your radio on, tune out the static and listen to God. Think about the places where God’s station comes in best and seek them out regularly, whether those places are prayer, meditation, beautiful places or the company of others. It will be worth the effort. Fifty thousand watt, clear channel WGOD* is out there broadcasting 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, direct from downtown Celestial City, bringing you exactly what you need to hear.
* Of course there is an actual WGOD station. But we’re talking about the metaphorical station, not the earthly one.