Channel Surfing

Okay this requires some explanation.  I wrote this several years ago.  I stumbled on it the other night and thought it would make a good post.  I actually read this in a Sunday School class I was teaching.  Those people must have thought I was crazy.  I read this now and I think ‘You can’t post this.  People will accuse you of sacrilege.’  I seem to run in this direction.  I write stuff that some people would consider disrespectful or taking liberties with scripture or some other unchristian malfeasance.  But I think I have a different way of looking at things, maybe a way that would hit a nerve, kindle a spark, light a fire in somebody that would not be moved by more traditional means of communication.  It seems that there was a time when I didn’t worry so much about what people thought.  I just let it fly.  Prayerfully let it fly.

So here goes.

This is how it began.
He half sat, half lay on the couch.  It was obvious he hadn’t shaved this morning.  He probably hadn’t showered.  The twin reflections of the television screen on his glasses glowed in the half light.  He held a weapon in his hand.  It was long and sleek and black and it had many buttons on it.  His trigger finger was held poised on the channel selector button.  He averaged a channel every two seconds.
TNN, CNN, Lifetime, CSpan, The Family Channel, A&E, MTV, CNBC.  He flipped through the channels.  Occasionally he would pause as something would spark his carnal appetites:  the excitement of a car chase, sexual suggestion on a soap opera, mild curiosity in a talk show.  But for the most part he just scanned, only half seeing what he saw.
He saw it first on the local Christian channel.  There was a blue curtain at the back of a room and a little man wearing a lab jacket standing against it off to one side.  Then he appeared on the Family Channel.  The next time around he was on ACTS.  Then he was on the educational channel, then the weather channel.  Each time around he was on another channel.  At first the man on the couch thought it was a taped program that just happened to be on several channels at once but just starting at slightly different times.  But then the little man started showing up on too many channels.  He was now leaning forward and giving his full attention to the TV.
Finally the little man in front of the blue curtain was on every channel.  HBO was the last to go.  The man on the couch scanned three more times through all the channels.  What was happening?  Had a foreign government taken over our satellites?  Was it an alien invasion?  Was he dreaming?  Or had he lost his mind?
The little man stepped forward. He stopped about 10 feet away.  He had a peaceful smile on his face.  He spoke.  His tone was neither condemning nor commanding.  He said, “Get up.  Do something.  Wash the car, rake the leaves, clean out the garage.  Read a book.  Do something educational.”
The man on the couch said, “Who are you?” The little man said, “I am God.”
The man stood up.  He had to talk to somebody.  He had to find out if he was crazy.  He started for the door.  The little man said, “Don’t forget to turn off the TV.”  He reached over and turned it off and went outside.
His neighbor was in his yard.  They didn’t know each other.  They had never spoken. He went over to him.
“Are you having trouble with your cable?  Mine is doing something crazy.”  He was not going to tell him what.
“I don’t know.  Let’s go in and find out.”
There was nothing wrong with his cable.  All the channels were there broadcasting what they were supposed to broadcast.  They struck up a conversation.  He found himself sharing the gospel with his neighbor.  He invited him to Church next Sunday and his neighbor accepted.  He spent the rest of the afternoon washing his car and cleaning out the garage.

That’s how it began.  In the ensuing months and years he found time to do things that he could never get to before.  He read.  He studied.  He learned woodworking.  In the process of time he discovered a talent for writing.  He wrote a great deal more than anyone ever saw but eventually he began to send letters to the editor and then articles to magazines and then he wrote a couple of novels that a publisher showed some interest in.
He rarely watched television anymore.  The news and weather was about it.  Every once in a while he would get bored and sit down to scan through the channels.  Then he would get a glimpse of a little man in a lab jacket.  He would get up and turn off the TV and go do something.

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Humor, Short Story, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Channel Surfing

  1. manoahswife says:

    We turned off and disconnected our television years ago, having found it to be, on the whole, a tremendous waste of time. We don’t even watch the news and the weather. Personally, I have no problem with God being portrayed as a man in a white lab coat on television. This is the same God who spoke through a donkey in the Old Testament. I have generally found that God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention if we are listening to Him through conventional channels (pun, intended). Glad you posted it.

  2. Wow… love this post! It is very inspiring and scary at the same time because it is so real for our society. We have a LOT of channel surfing in our culture right now, a lot of neighbors we’ve never met, a lot of wasted talents and interests. The sacredness of life is asleep in many, many people. Thank you for giving us hope!

    • Angus Lewis says:

      Thank you for your comment. It’s a little scary to turn God into a little man in a lab coat but I think it says something. It did to me when I wrote it.

  3. A lovely story, beautifully told. I’m now wondering it is partly autobiographical …
    Kia ora, Philip

    • Angus Lewis says:

      At the time (maybe fifteen years ago) it probably was, the mindless channel surfing part. God didn’t speak to me from the TV but I must have gotten the message somehow. Funny how when you write something it could be more to yourself than others.
      I don’t surf so much anymore. I read a lot. And I’m trying to write more through my blogging.
      Thanks for your comment.

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