Internal, and yet…not mine.
It’s impossible to describe what it’s like to someone who hasn’t experienced it. There was a soft, whispering voice blowing gently through my soul. It wasn’t my own mind. They weren’t my thoughts. They belonged to someone else.
The thoughts were distinct and different from the type of thoughts I would think. There was a quality to the voice that was like nothing I’d ever heard. Then suddenly, I remembered what happened the night before. I asked God to give me a voice to follow. This voice seemed to be exactly that.
I went downstairs to the day room. I saw a firefighter. I was about to say something to him, but the voice gently reminded me to be kind. When I met another, the voice reminded me to say something nice instead of being sarcastic. With each person I met, the voice gave me direction. “Be nice.” “Be kind.” “Don’t be grumpy.”
“What was going on?” I wondered. “Who was this voice and how long would it be with me?”
I realized that I had been born again . The Spirit of God had come to live inside of me. The voice I heard was the voice of God Himself. I was in a state of shock to think that the God who created the stars cared enough to come down from heaven and live inside of me.
“Those born-again Christians were right all along.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow. The Jesus I had always hated was living inside of me and He had come to be my friend. The Christians I hated were now my family. Talk about having your world flipped upside down.
Although I was bitter at being proved wrong, that was a minor issue. I was, in fact filled with inexpressible joy. I was going to heaven. I was loved by God. I had finally found the meaning of life. Joy filled my heart as I meditated on the sublime beauty of the death of my savior and His life in me.
I was astonished to have survived the first day of the weekend without running a call. I knew it had to be a divine set-up. God had set aside this weekend to have a meeting with me and He had my full attention. We finally responded on a call around 9am Sunday morning to a familiar address. It was my neighbor’s house. The oldest boy, who was a diabetic, had a sudden drop in blood sugar and was unresponsive in the kitchen. We started an IV, gave him an amp of dextrose and he woke up.
“It just had to be their house,” I thought. “The only call I would go on the entire weekend and it just happened to be to the only friends I know who are Christians.” I told them what happened. They were glad to hear my testimony.
For the next month, everywhere I went, twenty four hours a day, the voice was my constant companion; telling me gently how to act or what to say. Any time I was tempted to do something selfish, the voice gave me a gentle reminder to do the right thing.
I’d been an atheist (and a Darwinist) for years. But now that I realized that I was wrong about the existence of God, I had to know what else I was wrong about. I began questioning all of my beliefs. I spent the next year researching the other side of the argument of evolution and came to the conclusion that Darwin was probably wrong. There was so much evidence against his theory; it seemed foolish to continue believing in evolution. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The way the world worked, the reason people lived the way they did, my liberal political views and the meaning of life itself, all came under the microscope for examination.
After my conversion, I bought a transistor radio and earplug. I listened to a Christian radio station 24 hours a day. I often fell asleep to a sermon or worship music. I developed an insatiable appetite for the bible and every time I read about the crucifixion I began to cry.
The pastors I listened to said we had an obligation to ‘witness’ to those who didn’t know Jesus. After all – we didn’t want them to burn in hell or miss the rapture, did we? I had a tremendous fear that the end of the world was fast approaching and that we needed to get as many people saved as possible before the rapture. So I witnessed like there was no tomorrow.
At work, I became an overnight witness for Jesus. I told everyone what happened and threw in a little fear – mongering, trying to scare them just enough to get them to accept Jesus. I must have shared my testimony 100 times in the first few months alone. It was a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion and I felt everyone needed to know about it. The good part was – people saw a different person from the one they had always known. The bad part was – I was turning into a religious zealot and didn’t know it.
My ‘witnessing’ wasn’t well received. I was alienating friends, family and co-workers. I told myself they didn’t like me or my testimony because they hated God. And that was perhaps partly true. But part of it was my approach. Looking back, I realize that I was full of enthusiasm, but I lacked wisdom and love. I had become an obnoxious, born-again bible thumper, but I didn’t know what else to do.
During this time I learned a lot about the church, but it would be seven years before I would meet the man (known on Facebook as ‘Northwest Prophetic’) who would begin to mentor me in the life of the kingdom.
About six weeks after my conversion, I noticed that the voice was beginning to fade. At the time of my conversion it was loud and clear, but now it was barely perceptible. I worried about what was happening. Jesus said, “My Sheep hear my voice” and I wasn’t hearing him very well any more. I wondered if I was losing my salvation.
I worried until I read an account from C.S Lewis about his own conversion. Lewis noted that the voice of God comes alongside of us for season, to help get us on track. But after a while, we must learn how to live from our own conscience, knowing right from wrong without needing to hear from God every time we act. Like a child who needs training wheels on their bicycle at the start, with practice, the training wheels must eventually come off.
And so the voice slowly receded and I began to walk in newness of spiritual life on my own.