It had been one of the worst weeks I’d had at Eureka College. For some reason I was always thinking of death, questioning if my beliefs of my childhood upbringing were one hundred percent true or if there was another explanation. The thought of dying and nothing happening, there being an endless pool of blackness with no hope, laughter or any of the memories I’d been creating all of my life so far just abruptly ending. The illustration of hell and the possibility it didn’t even exist, or the worse assumption that I’d never see God’s face, all of these thoughts and images played like records over and over in my head.
It terrified me to my core the entire week as it bounced around in my brain almost every second of everyday. Not being able to focus in class, people noticing the unhappiness I was feeling starting to show on the outside as if it was a bacteria eating away at me and finally reaching the outside layer of its accolade. The thought of heaven not existing twisted my stomach like a pretzel on multiple occasions to the point where I thought I was going to be sick. I grew up in the Christian Church but drifted away from attending it the past few years, only getting there once every few months if even that often. I always had an excuse of soccer, or I had homework, or I was just too tired. All these excuses so easily replacing the one thing I desperately needed most in my life. These thoughts flowing through my mind were consuming my entire attention and scaring me to the point where I thought they’d never go away.
I was sitting on my bed watching a movie as I remembered my phone was on silent. Quickly I reached for it, like any teenager would, and saw that I had a missed call. As I held it in my hand a bright warning popped up on the screen saying 1 New Voicemail. Instantly my finger pressed the call button to hear the message.
“Hey Katie, this is Sherry. I just wanted to ask you for a phone number, Regina’s phone number. By the way she wants me to tell you she loves you. We went to visit her…” the voice faded in and out sounding raspy and wise. Of course I knew they had called the wrong number and figured I should call them back to let them know of their mistake. So I hit the call back button at first not thinking anything of it.
As the phone rang I felt chills start from my feet and spread all throughout my body like someone had electrocuted the floor below me. The chill reached my head and fingertips, it was a feeling I never had encountered before, but it made me almost want to hang up and not even continue with the call. Something was strange, as if someone or something did not want me making the call. I shook the feeling off of my skin and thought it was just some weird instance and meant nothing. Little did I know it was one of the moments that shall define me for the rest of my life.
The same voice answered after a few rings and instantly went straight into conversation as if I were an old friend. I interrupted in the politest way I could after her first few speedy sentences. “I’m sorry, I am just calling to let you know that you called the wrong number a few minutes ago.” She was confused at first and then her confusion turned to embarrassment and then to apologies. I assured her it was no big deal and from her almost annoyingly happy voice I wanted to hang up as soon as possible. I was about to take the phone away from my ear when it seemed as if she yelled from her abruptness, “Wait! One more thing honey.” I stood listening, not knowing if I should hang up or reply. I decided on an unsure yes and she continued…
“If you died today, do you know if you’d go to heaven?” her words hit me like a shot to the gut, she said them as if they were always used so commonly together, almost as if it was her way of saying goodbye to everyone she talked to for the first time. I stood there frozen for a second, and then felt the tears start to build up in my eyes. They weren’t tears of sadness, but tears of joy and relief as well. Before I could be sure this was really happening I asked the lady if this was a joke? My friends had known of my thoughts of death throughout the week and how they’d been ripping away at my insides. It wouldn’t be unlike them to prank me and get some fun out of my situation.
She convinced me that it was no prank. She told me how she had to stay home today in bed because she had a pain in her leg and was calling people from her church because she would not see them in class that afternoon. She asked me what number she had called and I rattled mine off from the top of my head “219-776-4275.” A sound of understanding came through the phone.
“ I dialed a 5 instead of an 8 at the end.”
My heart skipped a beat, and it was as if the world was on pause. Really? Could God have sent me this message to solve my week of worry from just one wrong button on the phone?
“I have terrible eye sight, it’s not uncommon for me to do this.”
Her voice brought me back to reality. Still I could not believe the situation I was in, but I felt curious and excited as much as I was scared and nervous.
“Now if you died today, do you know if you’d go to Heaven?” she said it as if God himself had dialed her number and given her the specific mission of calling me. This time when she asked I was trying to hold back my emotions as they pressed harder and harder to escape. The word No left my lips the same time as my tears hit my t-shirt. A million questions were running through my head, some made their way to my lips as whispers soft enough so only my ears could hear them. She could hear my sobs on the other end of the phone and I figured I should explain myself.
“I’ve been struggling with this all week.” I explained to her in broken up sobs and sniffles. “I truly do not know if I died today that I would be in Heaven.” The realization of what had just came out of my mouth hit me and I felt my whole body shake.
The lady quickly got to work. She sounded like she did this for a living, which I realized after, was probably the case. She said, “Do you want to accept Christ as your savior?” I quickly replied yes with all the longing my heart had left. That was all I’d wanted this entire week. All I’d needed. And in my own dorm room on a Friday afternoon, a little past 4 o’clock, God had sent me the sign that would lead me to Him for the rest of my life.
She had me say a prayer asking God to forgive me for all of my sins and accept him as my savior forever. Every second of the conversation and prayer felt perfect. I knew I would never be the same from that moment forward. She told me how God wanted everyone to accept his gift of eternal life and how it was the greatest thing we could have. And I knew she was right from the moment I received it.
We talked on the phone for almost an hour after that. She told me all about her church in Hammond, Indiana, which ironically is only about 30 minutes from my home town. She explained how when I visited for the first time they would give me a brand new bible and I could write the date I was saved in it. Of course I had my own bible, but the thought of a new one possessing that specific date in it, clean and fresh of sins from my past was the most perfect gift I could think of.
She covered a number of topics, from the address of her church to the classes I could go to. She talked about what books I should look to in the bible and what time her church would be on the internet broadcasting their service. Then she started talking about dating. Dating was one of the things I really needed to work on, and of course she gave me the answer I was looking for in that department as well.
“I know you’re in college, so be careful who you date. You need to find a boy who loves Jesus and is saved. Then you two can grow in your faith together and make a strong relationship based on Christ.” Her words were dead on.
How did she know about everything I’d been struggling with? How did she know exactly what to say to me? It seemed as if it was almost too good to be true and I was just dreaming up all the tears, phone numbers, revivals, and advice. But I wasn’t.
She told me about how when I came to visit her church I could go to a ‘Singles Class’ where other single Christians would learn about how to grow in the Lord and not stray from His word while living a single life. The thought of all of this made my heart soar. It was as if my week of pain and torture was over forever, being replaced with joy and happiness for now on.
We began to say our goodbyes and she asked me if she could call me again sometime to check in. Of course I told her I’d love that and couldn’t wait. Lastly before we hung up she said to me, “I guess I had the right number after all.” And after I said goodbye and hung up the phone the tears flowed freely, not tears of fear or sadness, but tears of joy and relief, it was the greatest phone call I’d ever received, a call out to me from God Himself.