October 30, 1985, began ordinarily enough. My husband kissed our two-year old son and me goodbye before leaving for a business trip. I promised little Justin that we would go to the mall that afternoon and have supper at McDonald’s.
As soon as I told Justin our plans, I heard a voice within me say, “Don’t go to the mall today.” Making no sense to me, I dismissed it.
Throughout the day, the voice repeatedly told me the same message, and each time I paid it no attention, thinking it ridiculous.
My resolve to ignore the voice resulted in it speaking more frequently and insistently to me, always with the same command: do not go to the mall today.
Partway through the afternoon, I began arguing with the voice, saying that there was no reason on this earth why I should listen to it. Why shouldn’t I take my little boy to McDonald’s as promised?
That’s when Steve the Plumber called. The part he’d ordered for our sink had finally come in, and he wanted to come over at 3:30 that afternoon to install it.
After explaining that he’d have to come another day because Justin and I were leaving for the mall at 3:30, Steve argued with me.
I was exasperated. First, a strange voice had been harassing me all day, telling me not to keep the promise I’d made to my child, and now Steve the Plumber would not take no for an answer.
Although the part only took several minutes to install, I knew Steve would be at our house for at least an hour because he loved to chat. I could only hope he’d be too tired to talk.
Wrong. Steve didn’t leave my house until 5:00, and because I was pregnant, I was then too tired to go anywhere. Instead, Justin and I had peanut butter sandwiches for our supper.
At 6:00, my phone rang and a male voice began crying when I said hello. “Cynthia! Thank God, you’re alive!”
“Who is this?”
“It’s Rick. Tim’s boss.”
“Why wouldn’t I be alive?”
“Haven’t you heard the news? It’s on all the Philadelphia channels!”
“A woman went to the South Entrance at the Springfield Mall at 4:00 today and shot 10 people. She killed a two-year old boy. She also shot at a pregnant woman. Tim told me that you were taking your son to the mall this afternoon and I was so afraid the little boy she killed was your son and that you were the pregnant woman she tried to shoot.”
“We’re safe, Rick. Justin and I are both safe. We didn’t go to the mall because…because…” The voice. The voice told me not to go. And when I argued with it and ignored it, it didn’t stop. Then Steve the Plumber called….out-of-the-blue…. and refused to take no for an answer. And then the voice finally stopped….right at 4:00. “Rick, it’s okay. Don’t cry. Justin and the baby and I are all safe.”
Rick sobbed again. “Thank God. Thank God.”
Weeping and trembling, I hung up. That voice – so clear, so insistent, becoming louder when I refused to listen. I knew when I first heard it that it wasn’t me, but I didn’t understand whose voice it was. Until now.
Only One could have known in advance what was going to transpire at the Springfield Mall that day. That same One also knew my plans. And He did not want little Justin or me and the child I was carrying to be present. Of all the mall entrances and arrival times I could have chosen, what had I decided upon that morning? The South Entrance at 4:00. And when I would not listen to the voice, He sent the plumber whose stubbornness and talkativeness put a final end to my plans.
Sometimes when I look at my two children, I think of that day and how God spoke to me, interceding to block our path from danger I could not see.
Have you ever heard that voice? Please leave a comment and tell me how your life was affected by it. I’m not the only one with stories to tell.
“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or the left.” - Isaiah 30:21 (NLT 2007)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012