a story for the skeptics…

I am going to share a story with you that I have only told a handful of people.  It’s one of those stories that is so unbelievable that you could potentially think I have completely lost it… and maybe that is why it has taken me two years to share it with you.

The way I figure it:  you either already believe I am completely out of my mind and have been for quite some time -OR- you believe that I am on the verge of being completely out of my mind at any moment.  Either way I have absolutely nothing to lose!

As I have previously written and to serve as some context:

I am a doubter, a cynic, and a skeptic and I confess to you that I have even been known to roll my eyes when people have told me that God spoke to them.  Not that my eye-rolling wasn’t justified a few times, but my cynicism and skepticism kept me from believing that God would, or could, actually speak in a way that a person today would really hear Him.  But God has a way of silencing the fools, and (again) I was about to be silenced.

About two years ago one of my best friends and I decided that we were going to spend seven days fasting from food so that we could spend our time praying and seeking God’s guidance for our individual lives and for our church.  This particular fast was different than others in which I have undertaken.  While I typically fast from food, I would also be abstaining from coffee as well.  If you don’t know me that well…I survive on coffee.  In fact…I am sitting at Starbucks right now drinking black coffee as I type this story.  I love this marvelous, beautiful liquid…and I knew what life was going to be like without it for seven days.

It was going to start off with headaches.  I could not function for the first two days.  Headaches.  Body aches.  And headaches.  Did I mention the headaches?  I began to wonder if it was even worth it as my heart pounded in my cranium.

But on the third day…I came back to life.  Did you like that?  Yeah…I found new life at the beginning of day three.  I could actually spend the remaining five days focused on something besides myself.  So I began to pray.

I think it may have been a Wednesday night.  I went upstairs and was preparing to go to bed.  I nestled into the sheets, read for a bit, and then turned off the light when I could no longer finish a sentence without dozing off.

I vividly remember my prayer after turning off the light.  It may seem an odd prayer to you…being that my writing may reflect a tremendous amount of faith…but I just remember repetitiously asking God several questions:

Why do you not reveal yourself and make things obvious?  Why do you not speak to me clearly so I know that you are there and understand what you want me to do?  Why do you make faith so difficult?

I don’t remember finishing my prayer that night as I faded into sleep mumbling the same words over and over.  I was sound asleep.  That is…until our home phone began to ring downstairs.

I immediately awoke and tried to collect my thoughts as I ran down the hallway and then downstairs- What time is it?  Who on earth is calling me at this hour?  Is there something wrong with my parents or Jenny’s parents?

I frantically lunged for the phone, “Hello?!”

On the other end of the phone someone was crying hysterically.  My heart began to race and more questions flew through my head- Are my kids ok?  Is Columbus, Indiana under attack?  Is my family in danger?

“Brandon, it’s Rebecca!  Are you alright?!”

A hundred more questions came to me all at once as time seemed to slow down- Why is Rebecca calling me?  Why is Rebecca calling me at 3:30AM?  Why is she crying hysterically?

Rebecca is my cousin’s wife, and to my knowledge, she had never previously called my house.  Even more…I don’t think I had ever spoken with her on the phone before…period.  When I call my cousin, who lives out of town, I always call his cell phone and talk directly to him.  She didn’t have my home phone number… so she had to look it up!  This early morning call was starting off very bizarre, to say the least.

“Yeah, I am fine…why?”

Sobbing, Rebecca continued, “Is your family alright?!”

Utterly confused and almost second-guessing myself I responded, “Yeah, everyone here is ok why?”

Her crying intensified, “Because I was having a dream and God told me that I had to call you!  As I hesitated in the dream to call you…God screamed at me, ‘IT IS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH!!!’  At that point I didn’t have a choice…I knew that no matter how weird it may seem to you…I had to call you!”

I completely lost it.  Tears began streaming down my face as I recalled my intent prayers before falling asleep.  As best I could, I tried to explain to Rebecca how completely miraculous and profound this was.  We both agreed that it was more than coincidental. But as the conversation settled down and we said goodbye, neither of us knew how unbelievably coincidental this whole situation was about to become.

I went upstairs where my wife was intently waiting to hear what all the commotion was about.  I emotionally told her everything in detail about this extraordinary event.  We were both amazed at the unbelievable string of events.  Even though it was going to be hard to get back to sleep after such excitement, we turned off the lights and just laid there talking.

“Brandon, do you smell something?  It smells like a burning, electrical smell.”

I smelled the same thing and immediately got up to investigate.  I have an excellent sniffer so I made my way through the house like a hound dog on the hunt.  I went from room to room, upstairs to downstairs, downstairs to upstairs but couldn’t find anything suspicious.  Both Jenny and I could definitely smell this burning electrical but were perplexed as to where it was coming from and even more perplexed as to what to do about it.  But like any sane and overly cautious human being who just got spooked out of his mind by a crazy phone call only 30 minutes prior and who now smells something burning in his house…I called 911.

“Uh…I am calling because we have this burning electrical smell in our house but we can’t find where it is coming from and we are concerned that it may start a fire.  Would you please send the fire department to our house to investigate it…and please tell them to not turn on their sirens and wake the entire neighborhood?”

Jenny went up stairs to wake up our kids and I went out on the front porch to wait for the firefighters.  It wasn’t long before I could hear the sirens screaming from a mile away.  The concert tour bus sized fire engine came blazing around the corner onto our road and was calling for everyone in our neighborhood to get out of bed so they could see what the emergency was all about.

After explaining the burning smell to the fire chief, he and the volunteer firemen made their way through our house.  They moved from room to room, upstairs to downstairs, downstairs to upstairs but couldn’t find the culprit.  Perplexed, but trusting his intuition, the fire chief asked where our furnace was located.  I led him downstairs and he immediately began to investigate.  It wasn’t one minute before the chief made his professional determination.

“Well, it’s definitely your heater…and it’s a good thing you were awake and smelled it because the motor is all burnt up and the wires were catching on fire.  You were about 30 minutes from a fire in your house.”




7 thoughts on “a story for the skeptics…

  1. If people think you are crazy, then I guess they will think I am just as crazy, or maybe even crazier, for calling someone at 3:30am. At first I was worried what you would think….but I just had to call. God wouldn’t quit…and under the circumstances, I am so thankful that He didn’t!
    I just want to emphasize as well what an emotional, and even physical experience this was for me! My heart was pounding out of my chest, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I was trembling uncontrollably! I have never had anything like that happen to me before, or since….but I will say that I am so very glad that God was able to use me in such a way!


  2. if you are these things – doubter, a cynic, and a skeptic – then why would you engage in an uncontrolled experiement involving food deprivation?

    why do you deem the experiement successful just because the cousin’s wife phoned?

    wouldn’t it have been more impressive if the house had burned, yet you all suvived unscathed and unaware?

    Or if perhaps, you had had a premonition yourself and not been awoken by a call?

    I am not calling the sequence of events into question, just that this is not a well designed experiement, just a series of coincidences

    After all, most people experience a sudden worry about a friend or relative – sometimes we act on it and contact them, other times, we don’t – but these feelings of sudden worry rarely correlate to actual potential harm

    but even the law of chance says that they will once in a while

    I guess it’s okay if you want to beleive, but why set the bar so low on miracles, as to be indistinguishable from chance?


  3. @random ntrygg-

    I know that in my life – there are two many coincidences to be coincidence – if you know what I mean. I could tell you story after story like this.

    I’m guessing that brandon could tell you many more as well.

    struggling with questions and doubt are quite normal- and people of faith wrestle with them all the time.

    that doesn’t mean that their faith is not true – or that it is less important to them.


  4. This is a really great story, thanks brandon. When I began to read it, the words were just the same as what I have been saying/praying for the last few months. Why does God not speak to people like he did back in the day, like to moses and hosea and all the others? Why is it so hard to know what he is wanting for us as individuals? Why doesnt he just make it easy or at least sometimes speak to us verbally, directly, clearly?


  5. As Christians we also beleive that a virgin gave birth to a child who was all man and all God. This child was to be called Emmanuel or God with us. He died on a cross for the sins of all people and was raised from the dead after three full days. He walked on the earth for forty days before ascending to heaven and being seated at the right hand of God.
    It is a small thing for us to beleive that God would orchestrate these events


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