o you believe that God not only loves you, but knows where you are and what you’re doing every minute of the day? I certainly do after an amazing experience I had several years ago.
I was driving on I-75 near Dayton, Ohio, with my wife and children. We turned off the highway for a rest and refreshment stop. My wife Barbara and the children went into the restaurant, but I suddenly felt the need to stretch my legs, so I waved them on ahead and said I’d join them shortly. I bought a soft drink and walked on toward a Dairy Queen; feelings of self-pity were enshrouding my mind. Even though I loved the Lord and my ministry, I felt drained and burdened. My cup was empty.
Suddenly the impatient ringing of a telephone nearby jarred me out of my doldrums. It was coming from a phone booth at a service station on the corner. Was no one going to answer this phone? Traffic noise from the busy intersection must have drowned out the sound, because the service station attendant continued looking after his customers, oblivious to the incessant ringing.
Why didn’t someone answer that phone? The ringing continued. I began thinking it might be important, even some kind of emergency. Curiosity finally overcame my indifference. I walked over to the booth and picked up the phone. “Hello,” I said casually, as I took a long sip of my drink.
The operator said, “Long distance call for Ken Gaub.”
I almost choked on a piece of ice. My eyes must have widened considerably. Swallowing hard, I said, “You’re crazy!” Then, realizing I shouldn’t be speaking to the operator like that, I said, “This can’t be! I was walking down the road, not bothering anybody, the phone was ringing . . .”
“Is Ken Gaub there?” the operator interrupted. “I have a long distance call for him.”
It took a moment for me to gain control of my stammering from the surprise. I finally replied, “Yes, he is here.” Searching for a possible explanation, I wondered if I could possibly be on Candid Camera or a similar TV show. I looked for a hidden camera and tried to smooth my hair. Impatiently the operator repeated, “I have a long distance call for Ken Gaub, sir. Is he there?”
Still shaken and perplexed, I asked, “How in the world did you reach me here? I was just walking down the road, the pay phone started ringing, and I only answered it by chance. You can’t mean me!”
“Well,” the operator said with some firmness, “is Mr. Gaub there or isn’t he?”
“Yes, I am Ken Gaub,” I said, finally convinced by the tone of her voice that the call was a real one. Then I heard another voice say, “Yes, that’s him, operator. That’s Ken Gaub.”
I listened dumbfounded as the strange voice introduced herself. “I’m Millie, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. You don’t know me, Mr. Gaub, but I’m desperate. Please help me.”
“What can I do for you?” I asked. She began weeping. Finally she regained control and continued. “I was about to commit suicide. I had just finished writing a note, and I began to pray and tell God I really didn’t want to do this. Then I suddenly remembered seeing you on television and thought if I could just talk to you, you could help me. I knew that was impossible because I didn’t know how to reach you. I didn’t even know anyone who could help me find you. Then some numbers came to my mind and I scribbled them down.”
At this point she began weeping again. I prayed silently for wisdom to help her.
She said, “I looked at the numbers, and thought how wonderful it would be if I had a miracle from God. Could He possibly have given me Ken Gaub’s phone number? I decided to try calling it. I can’t believe I’m talking to you! Are you in your office in California?”
I said, “I don’t have an office in California. My office is in Yakima, Washington.”
Surprised, she said, “Oh, really? Then where are you?”
I replied, “Don’t you know? You made the call.”
She said, “I don’t know where I’m calling to. I just dialed the number I wrote down on this paper.”
“Ma’am, you won’t believe this,” I answered, “but I’m in a phone booth in Dayton, Ohio.”
“Really!” she exclaimed. “Well, what are you doing there?”
I kidded her gently. “Well, I’m answering the phone. It was ringing as I walked by, so I answered it.”
Knowing this encounter could have been arranged only by God, I began to talk to her and counsel her. As she told me of her despair and frustration, the presence of the Holy Spirit flooded the phone booth and gave me words of wisdom beyond my own ability. In a matter of moments she prayed the sinner’s prayer and met the One who would lead her out of her situation and into a new life.
I walked away from that telephone booth with an electrifying sense of our Heavenly Father’s concern and love for each of His children. What were the astronomical odds of this happening without God? With all the millions of phones and innumerable combinations of numbers, only an all-knowing God could have caused Millie in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to call that number in that phone booth in that particular moment of time.
Forgetting my melancholy and now bursting with exhilaration, I headed back to my family, wondering if they would believe my story. I thought about not telling of this far-fetched encounter, but I couldn’t possibly keep it to myself.
“Barb!” I shouted. “You won’t believe this! God knows where we are!”