One evening, as I complained about our country’s politics and morality at my parents’ dinner table, I was interrupted by a heavy sense all of our “talk” wasn’t accomplishing anything. The conversation transformed into white noise as my initial impression grew. My uneasiness multiplied until I finally interjected.
“I’m sorry about complaining. Can I pray for our country rather than complain about it?” I asked. My mom and dad are always down for a prayer meeting, so we spent about 30 minutes praying for our nation, our elected leaders, and our family.
After we ran out of prayers and felt settled, I decided to head home. I hugged my parents, walked out to my car, and grabbed the keys from my pocket. Then, without any miraculous warning, I heard God say, “Go to 7 Eleven. There’s a guy named Jim that I want you to talk to.”
I guess “hear” is the wrong word. I didn’t hear it with my ears. The voice wasn’t audible. I sensed it. Somehow, my entire being felt like a satellite detecting God’s voice. Here’s how I describe the experience to friends. “I believe in Biblical truth even though I’ve questioned it sometimes. In this case, I experienced knowing truth for the present moment. I knew I was supposed to do something right then. I knew it was good and right, but I still questioned it.”
As I opened my car door, I smirked wondering if my imagination had finally got the best of me. “Really, Lord? A guy named Jim?” I asked chuckling. “Well, I’ll do it. Might as well. No harm can come from it, right?”
When I pulled out of the driveway, I asked God to reveal more about Jim to me. By the time I rolled into the store’s asphalt parking lot, I sensed I was supposed to “offer Jim hope for his finances and offer him money.” It was a weird direction for me to receive at the time. I was paying the bills, but most of my financial decisions were pretty foolish.
Adding to What I Heard
I also mentally embellished the direction I received with my own made up story of how I was going to meet Jim. I pictured myself emerging confidently from my car, walking in the door, and “poof!” The worker standing behind the counter would be a middle-aged gentleman with the letters “J-I-M” printed on his name tag. Legit and simple! In my imaginary scenario, I wouldn’t even have to risk looking like a fool.
Needless to say, my imagination led me astray.
When I strolled through the doors, I spotted one college-aged girl behind the counter and nobody else in the store. So, I did what any other guy would do in my situation. I putzed through each aisle of 7 Eleven intensely studying the packaging of snack foods items that I had no intention of buying. After I made my way through five aisles without picking up a single snack, I thought, “This girl thinks I’m gonna rob the place.”
So, I invented a slightly awkward conversation about Jesus to religiously salvage my wasted time and make me feel better about not really hearing God’s voice. After a completely uncomfortable ten minute exchange, neither of us had anything left to say.
I somberly went back to skimming the nutritional content of Twinkies and HoHo’s. “God,” I whispered, “I’m gonna leave. I must’ve missed your voice. I don’t want to look like a weirdo.”
The moment I finished praying, a guy walked into the 7 Eleven. Instantly, I sensed God’s leading again. He said, “That’s Jim. Go up to him boldly and say, ‘Your name’s Jim, isn’t it?'”
A Guy Named Jim
“Well, here we go,” I thought.
He didn’t have a nametag. He didn’t get out his ID. But somehow, I decided to put the Twinkies on the shelf, tap him on the shoulder, and say very confidently, “Your name’s Jim, isn’t it.?” I heard myself saying it with more of period than a question mark.
His whole body turned to me with surprise, and he said, “Yeah, how’d you know?”
A tingle shot up my spine, and I repeated verbatim the words I sensed the Lord had given me in the car ride over, “The Lord sent me here to offer you hope for your finances.”
Jim looked surprised and slowly said, “Hmmm, that’s funny. I’m going through a bankruptcy right now.”
After talking with him briefly about how God wants to be intimate with him and teach him about finances, Jim said, “I feel like there’s electricity going up and down my spine.”
I said, “I don’t know what that is. It might be the Holy Spirit.” Then a light bulb flickered on in my mind, and I asked him the obvious question, “Are you a Christian?” I knew I had his attention, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share Jesus with him.
He said he was a Christian. And I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Hey! It was a perfect witnessing opportunity!
One Changed Life
I then proceeded to offer him money, but he wouldn’t take it. He said he had what he needed – referring to God’s provision. After we talked for a few more minutes, he thanked me, and said reflectively, “Now… I know that miracles really do happen.”
As his pickup truck drove away from the 7 Eleven parking lot, I got the impression his last remark was the kicker. When I think about my experience of that night now, I remember God’s graciousness. He sent me on a small mission to 7 Eleven so a guy named Jim would believe in miracles.
Next time I’m tempted to complain about the immorality or political state of our nation, I hope I try praying instead. I hope I ask God to turn my heart and the hearts of other individuals toward Him. Then I’ll try to listen for His voice and obey.
He might ask me to repent. He might ask me to forgive. Or he might ask me to go to 7 Eleven and meet a guy named Jim. I know I had the privilege of hearing God’s voice in a unique way, but I didn’t go out and change the world in a night. I did obey though, and I know it changed one person’s life. It changed mine.
“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)
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