Urban Legends

Call from God

The Legend

A man was contemplating suicide. He had a razor, a gun, a rope, and a bottle full of sleeping pills, and he'd hooked up an old gas stove in the kitchen. But before he signed his name on that final dotted line, he got down on his knees, squeezed his eyes closed, and prayed to God for a sign. "If you don't want me to do this, God," he prayed, "just send me a sign."

The man opened his eyes just a crack, looking for anything that might be a sign. A gust of wind blew his Go board off the table, but that didn't seem like much of a sign. The same for the Nike delivery truck that he could see through the window, driving past with its "Just do it" logo. Then the phone rang.

Surprised, the man took a moment to react. Then he jumped up and ran to the phone, where the caller-ID showed the name of the caller, "The Almighty God." Hesitantly, he picked up the receiver.

The voice on the other side spoke, deep and commanding, without waiting for him to so much as say hello. "There was just a huge train wreck in the mid-west," the voice said, "so we're really busy up here right now. Do you think you could put it off for a while? A couple of weeks would be good. There's a flood in India next Tuesday, but after that we're pretty clear. Thanks."

Stunned, the man put down the phone and never killed himself again.

Behind the Legend

Stories about God phoning people who are about to do themselves in are rather common, and this 2001 story is only notable because it is the first we know of in which God's name appears on caller ID (unfortunately, His phone number was blocked). When a number of these incidents are analyzed over time, it is clear that God only calls people who are sincere in their heart about wanting to take their lives and who are trying to kill themselves in the evening or on weekends when the rates are lower. God never calls to stop suicides on Sunday, likely because that is His day off.

A possibly related legend tells of a man who is praying to God for a sign that he shouldn't commit suicide when a meteor smashes through the roof of his house and kills him. We haven't been able to verify this one yet.

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