It is my nature not to believe when people they say they have seen visions or heard voices. I know that anything is possible with God, and He can do anything He wants to. He might talk to someone audibly or show someone a vision of sorts. However, I have always lived by the verse, “We live by faith and not by sight” (or voices for all that matters). But then there was that one day, and that one special time, when it happened to me.
It was the first week of November, 1968. I had only been a Christian for two weeks. Two weeks earlier I had knelt beside our sofa in our apartment on a rainy Thursday evening and asked the Lord to take my life and do with it whatever He wanted. I was willing to give Him all my money, (I’ll bet that thrilled God!), all my hunting gear, my motorcycle, my camping gear and anything He might want that I had. The hardest thing I had to surrender was my time and my reputation. But I knew these had to be placed before Him, along with everything else, if I was to receive the one thing I desired most. That one thing I asked of Him was to let me know Him, to know Him personally.
My working buddies didn’t know that a “transformation” had taken place in my life. Two days after my surrender I went on vacation and there wasn’t an opportunity to share with the men just what God had done in my life. The new life I was now living was very different from the way I had lived just two weeks earlier. God had done some spiritual surgery on me. He changed my “want to”! What I mean is, the things I had wanted to do before I knelt that Thursday evening, I now didn’t want to do. Let me give you an example. I was a foul talking person with an anger issue. Along with a foul mouth was the desire to tell foul stories and jokes. God in His wonderful way took the desire for the foul things out of me. It’s not that I was perfect, it was that I didn’t want to offend God with my speech. He had changed my “want to”!
It was Monday morning, the first day back from vacation. I worked in an engineering office with ten men in my group and another group of men sat beside our department. We were all seated in rows. Neal, my old joke swapping buddy, came back to where I was seated, but he was still a row of desks away. He said in a loud voice, “Hey Randy, did you hear the joke about…”. When he said that, everyone turned around in their seats and readied themselves for a foul story. I interrupted him and said, “Neal, I’m trying not to tell jokes anymore. I don’t want to hear it.”
Neal was taken aback, but he thought I was kidding about not wanting to hear his joke. He started to tell it again, “Did you hear about these two guys in a bar…..”. I interrupted him once more and said, “Honestly, Neal, I have stopped telling dirty jokes. I really don’t want to hear it.” But to my embarrassment he started to tell it again, not believing what I said. “There were these two guys in this bar.” he began. I could feel the blood go to my head in embarrassment. It felt like I was as red as a beet and my heart thumped in my chest and I could even hear it pulsing in my head. The men around me didn’t realize that truly I had changed. I did not want to hear the story. I did not want to offend God and I felt that Neal would take it personal if I didn’t let him share this joke. I was embarrassed and I didn’t know what to do.
It was then that I heard the voice. It came from over my right shoulder. It was a man’s voice and it was calm and understanding. If I heard that voice today, even after all these years, I would recognize it. The voice said, “Don’t be ashamed.” That’s all, nothing else, just don’t be ashamed. Immediately I could feel the blood go back into my body. The embarrassment left and I felt a calmness I can’t explain. I looked at Neal and said with a smile, “Neal, I appreciate that you want to share this story with me but I have stopped telling bad stories and I would really rather not hear it.”
What happened next seemed as natural as sunlight. Neal said, “OK”, and walked back to his seat, seemingly not offended. All the other men swiveled in their seats and went back to work, as if nothing had happened. My relationship changed with the men in our group from that time on; some for good and some not.
Where did the voice come from? There was no one around me, but the voice sounded like it was just inches behind me on my right side, almost beside me. Was it Jesus? Was it the Holy Spirit or an angel? I don’t know! It was the first time that I had ever heard a voice from nowhere, and to date, it has been the last time.
Many years have passed since I heard the voice. I have read about similar things happening with many others. I am convinced that God is ever present in the lives of men. I don’t mean from afar, I mean close up – beside us. We feel like we are standing alone but in reality His promise still stands firm, “I will never leave thee or forsake thee,”
In His care,