Monday, November 16, 2009

Insufficient coverage

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. . . . The LORD will hear when I call to him. – Psalm 4:1,3 (NIV)

Living in a rural area can be challenging when it comes to technology like the Internet.

As a writer, writing mentor and editor, I depend on it for my livelihood. Almost all my work these days—articles, book proposals, edited manuscripts, reviewed student writing lessons—are sent over the ’Net. Research and reference are done online. I can obtain detailed information about small countries on the other side of the world without leaving my writing room. I can also participate in writing seminars and never leave my house, thanks to the “webinars” now offered online. In addition, invitations to speak at various functions often appear in my email Inbox.

Now, living where I do—twelve miles from the nearest town in the village of Smithport, 2,000 feet above sea level—the only affordable option to connect to the Wide World Web has been dialup. To say the service has been substandard lately is a gross understatement.

Establishing a connection alone is aggravating and frustrating, to say the least. Using dialup to connect to the Internet is like a horse and buggy trying to merge into freeway traffic during rush hour.

And when I do manage to connect, the fastest speed I’ve ever gotten is 49.2 kbps (kilobytes per second)—nowhere near fast enough to download Web pages and photos or email my radio program to the station that airs it in a timely manner. It’s like asking a snail to do the work of a Concord jet.

Then, what I call e-cups (electronic hiccups) occur: dropped connections, network timeouts, and “this is taking too much time” notices. It’s almost enough to make me lose my religion.

Since the above scenarios have been occurring with increasing frequency, I decided to look into other options. DSL isn’t available here in the middle of nowhere. Satellite is too expensive. The electric company is considering offering Broadband, but that won’t be for at least another year. I can’t wait that long.

Thinking the problem might be the computer modem going bad (a modem is what establishes the connection), I called my computer guy.

“How’s your cell service out there?” he asked.

“Spotty. Why?”

I could purchase a device that plugged into my computer and would act like a cell phone and establish a much faster connection—like 12 times faster than my fastest dialup speed.

What would it hurt to try, I thought. So I bought the device and subscribed to the service. It was the only way I’d know whether or not it would work.

It didn’t.

Several attempts to establish a connection failed, with the notice in a popup window: “Unable to connect at this time due to insufficient coverage. Please try again when you are in either a NationalAccess or BroadbandAccess area.”

I checked the coverage map of America’s largest and most reliable wireless network. Most of the US was solid red, but a pinpoint of white, meaning no coverage, designated the tiny area where Smithport is located.

I’m so glad the connection I establish with God through prayer isn’t like my Internet woes. I know He hears me when I’m long-winded and full of fire, sure my prayers are shooting up to heaven on the fastest Broadband speed available.

But what about the times when I don’t know how to pray? When all I can do is sigh and whisper, “Oh, Lord.” Does He still hear me when, like my dialup connection, I stutter and stagger, and my words are weak and disconnected?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

With God, I’ve learned, there is no such thing as insufficient coverage. Whether my signal is weak or strong, He always hears the cries of my heart.

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation (Psalm 5:1-3 NIV). Amen.

Special-Tea: Psalms 4:1–5:12

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