In the spring of 1998 I was a successful businessman working out of my house in Roswell, Georgia. I wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination. But I was making decent money.
Yet I was unhappy.
Late one night I went to God in prayer. Something I hadn’t done in years. Even though I was raised a Christian.
“Help me, Lord,” I prayed. “Please help me.” At first, I didn’t receive an answer. Then one night I prayed, “If You will help me, Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to do.” To make sure God knew how sincere I was, I added, “If it’s Your will, Lord, I’ll serve You anywhere in the world.”
I was willing to serve God anywhere in the world if He would give me some peace. Anywhere reasonable, of course. Any English-speaking country seemed reasonable to me. Maybe England. Perhaps Australia.
So it shocked me when late one night a voice awoke me with, “Go to Peru.
The next day I shared this message with a friend. “I can’t go to Peru, buddy.” When he asked why not, I replied, “I think I’m the only person in the history of Georgia State University who flunked Spanish 102.”
When I went to bed that night the voice awoke me with, “Go to Peru.” And for the next three nights it awoke me every hour with the same message, “Go to Peru.”
The next day I phoned my friend and told him about the voice harassing me. “You’re in luck, Leon,” he said. “A friend of mine has recently started a group called Lifelink Network For Children. They’re going to Peru in a week for a seven day trip to ascertain the needs of Indian children in various parts of Peru. I think you should make the trip.”
I put him off with, “I’m too busy.”
That night the voice returned at midnight. “Go to Peru.” Not only that, every hour on the hour it awoke me with the same message. The next day I phoned my friend and told him I would make the week-long trip to Peru with him and his friends. I only agreed to go to put an end to the irritating voice in the night.
But I was determined not to enjoy the trip.
And I didn’t. By the third day of the trip people had nick-named me, “Grumpy.” Something strange took place on the fourth day, however. My sour attitude began to change. And by the fifth day I began to enjoy the trip.
I volunteered to help the doctor as she tended to the needs of poor Indian children suffering from various ailments. When the seven day trip ended and we were flying back to Atlanta, I realized that I had fallen in love with the precious children we had encountered. The doctor told me that she planned to return to Peru periodically to serve the children. “What about you, Leon?” she asked.
“I enjoyed the trip,” I confessed. “But there is one thing I’m sure of.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“I’ll never return to Peru.”
Back in Atlanta I returned to the daily grind of making a living. And the irritating voice that had ordered me to Peru was silent. For the first few days, that is. Then one night it returned. “Go to Peru,” it ordered. To my chagrin, it awoke me every hour on the hour for days with the same message, “Go to Peru.”
One morning, dead-tired from missing so much sleep, I phoned my friend. “I think I’m losing my mind,” I said.
After I’d explained the voice returning, he said, “You know, Leon, you’ve been out of sorts for several years. Maybe living in Peru is your destiny.”
I slammed the phone down. To calm my nerves, I got into my car and drove toward North Georgia. Not knowing exactly where I was going. Not caring. I just wanted some peace. The mountains usually calm me when I’m upset. Not today. When I finally swung my car into my driveway, darkness had settled over the neighborhood.
I went to bed and tried to sleep. I had just fallen asleep about midnight when the voice awoke me. “Go to Peru.”
I got out of bed and stepped out onto the patio. The sky was speckled with the brightest stars I’d ever seen. Minutes later I was about to return to bed when a thought entered my mind. Closing my eyes, I cried out, “I did what you told me to do. I went to Peru. So why are you still bothering me?”
“I told you to go to Peru,” the voice said. Then it added, “But I didn’t tell you to come back.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
At first I thought I wasn’t going to receive an answer. I was about to open my eyes when the sweetest voice I’d ever heard replied, “You know who I am.”
I went inside and crawled back into bed. Seconds later I was sound asleep.
In the morning I made several phone calls. Three days later I boarded a Delta 747 heading for Peru. As the plane lifted up, banked left and headed south, I glanced out the window at the South Atlanta neighborhood where my father operated a mission for the Southern Baptist Convention when I was a boy.
A familiar voice inside my head whispered, “Smart move, son.”
To contact me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org