Today’s entry is my 999th on my blog. Hence it is an emergency blog. I realise that this joke only really works in the UK, where the telephone number to dial for the emergency services is 999. There are other numbers in other parts of the world (eg 911 in USA, 112 in Europe), which could be confusing.
And now there are other three digit numbers to dial in other circumstances. For example, 101 is the number to dial for the police in non-emergency situations. 111 is being introduced for when you need medical help fast but it’s not an emergency. Of course the problem comes with discerning what amounts to a non-emergency situation. Is there a list somewhere that we should consult? Or is it the case that if we have not got the time to consult a list it’s an emergency, and if we do have the time it’s not an emergency?
The number 999 was selected as the number to summon emergency services at a time when telephones had dials rather than buttons (or touch screens). I have often wondered why this was chosen given that it took longer for the dial to rotate when dialling 999 than any other three digit number. The BBC website has provided me with an answer:
The General Post Office, which ran the telephone network, proposed a three digit number that could trigger a special signal and flashing light at the exchange. The operators could then divert their attention to these priority calls.
In order to find the new emergency number in the dark or thick smoke it was suggested an end number was used so it could be found easily by touch.
111 was rejected because it could be triggered by faulty equipment or lines rubbing together. 222 would have connected to the Abbey local telephone exchange as numbers in the early telephone network represented the first three letters (ABBey = 222, 1 was not used due to the accidental triggering). 000 could not be used as the first 0 would have dialled the operator.
999 was deemed the sensible choice
So now I know. I assumed that there would be a good reason, but I would never have arrived at that conclusion.
You may be wondering what vaguely spiritual point I am going to make from all of this. If I am completely honest I am wondering the same thing!
[pondering followed by a lightbulb moment]
Do we treat God like an emergency service? Do we only call on him when we are in trouble? Do we only pray when we need something? He’s sufficiently gracious that he will even respond to those prayers, but he’d much rather we had a constant dialogue with him. That is even more than 101 or 111. It’s a constantly open phone line. Thoughts can be prayers. Ideas can be prayers. Conversations with other people can be prayers. Reading a book can be a prayer. Doing chores can be a prayer. Even bloggages can be prayers!
How is that possible? By consciously offering them to God, recognising his Spirit’s presence and engagement with us.
Be blessed, be a blessing
(The next bloggage will be number 1000. I have been contemplating that for a while and have felt self-generated pressure to make it awesome and memorable. But it’s only a number. It may not be any more profound that number one, or even number 999!)