I was in my 20’s, and living in the LA area. I was young in my faith, and took great pride in what I thought of as an admirable “balancing act”. When I was at church, or around other Christians, I acted like a Christian. When I was around unbelievers, I acted like an unbeliever. I thought I was doing a great job of maintaining the two sides of my double life. From the way I acted around my unbelieving friends and coworkers, there was no way they could tell I was a Christian. From the way I acted in church and around fellow Jesus-followers, they would have no idea how far from Christlike my other life had become.
… until God spoke to me and made it clear that what I was not fooling Him.
One morning, I woke to a clock-radio that was playing static. Not surprisingly, I had slept through the static for sometime. A glance at the time showed what I suspected – I was going to be late for work. To add to the fun, I had a roaring headache. I scrambled around, throwing on the first outfit that caught my eye, and went out to my car. Battery dead. Swell. Called for a tow, and was told it would be 2-3 hours. Not wanting to miss at least a half day of work, I decided to take a bus to work and attend to my car later. As I left my apartment building, my sweater snagged on the heavy metal security gate. I disentangled my sweater, which began unraveling in one spot, slammed the door and yelled something like, “God, why aren’t you doing anything for me today?”
I stomped down to the corner, crossed the intersection (stomping, sulking, and full of attitude all the way) and sat down on the bus bench. A glance down the street showed that the bus was not yet in view, so I began rifling my purse for something to occupy my time. I found a small Bible with snap-closure and began rifling through it thinking, “I don’t even know where to start.”
Suddenly, I heard a voice that sounded like it was coming over my right shoulder. It said, “James!” in a very firm, clear tone. I jumped and looked behind me. No one. I looked at the woman sitting on the other end of the bench, and thought, “It doesn’t look like she heard anything. Get a grip, Theresa!”
Then, I heard the voice again, “James!”
“OK,OK, I’ll read James” I thought. Then, “Where is James?” After consulting the table of contents I found James. “Where do I start?” I thought. I started with chapter 1 verse 1 and began to read. When I read verses 7 and 8 I froze, I gulped and read verses 7 and 8 again.
“That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
My life was unstable. I was completely double-minded. Suddenly, things I had done for the purpose of “fitting in” with unbelievers came to my mind and I was ashamed. Clearly, I was not honoring God with my life and my choices. I was far more concerned with pleasing people than pleasing God.
I was like a person walking with one foot in a river and one foot on the bank. Sooner or late, you either pull your foot out, and commit to being fully on the bank, or you are driven downstream by the current.
I saw how my compromises were becoming more and more antithetical to the Christlike character that God’s Word tells us we are to strive toward. I was being pulled downriver, and I needed to pull my foot out and commit to the bank.
I recommitted my life to Christ and began to behave the same way regardless of who I was around. My behavior change made it clear to my unbelieving friends that I was a Christian. I no longer spent evenings and nights getting drunk in bars. I no longer watched movies that were explicitly sexual or contained rampant profanity. There were many other changes as well. The changes in my behavior meant that some friends didn’t understand me anymore, and couldn’t relate to my life or my choices. It also meant closer and deeper relationships with fellow Jesus-followers. More importantly, it began a season of growth in my spiritual walk and a much closer and deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
Some people might try to convince me that I was hearing things. Or that I had heard someone preach from James and had forgotten it but it was in my subconscious. No matter how you try to explain it away, I know what I heard. The voice was unlike any other I have ever heard. Clear, firm, loving, powerful. More powerful and clear than any human voice.
I don’t know why God chose for me to hear His voice, when others have not. I only know that I heard Him and I am humbly and immeasurably grateful that He spoke to me on the bus bench that day.