“Lord, are You infinite?”
I am boundless.
“Are You omniscient?”
I know everything that is important.
“Are You omnipotent?”
I can do everything I want (care) to do.
God had just contradicted every key attribute in the traditional definition of God. He is not exactly infinite, not exactly omniscient, and not exactly omnipotent. All this was so new, I just didn’t know what to think, but I was beginning to sense that one reason God spoke to me was to clear up some misunderstandings.
Later I was told more about God at the Beginning.
Before I was a Person, I was around “for a long time.” First there was Nothingness, not just empty space—there was no space and time either. Out of Nothingness I erupted, “created” Myself. At that point, I was just pure energy, pure creative force, pure Being, Being itself. Space and time were created as a result of my Being. They were the frames of My existence. The physical universe spun out of Me by My overflowing. I am the to-be of all things. I was not yet a Person. I was not yet self-aware. I was amorphous energy flowing out radically in all directions. (Before Creation) I am pure spirit, sufficient unto Myself, and have no “body.” And I did not exist in a world with physical bodies. I felt I was lacking something—grounding, facticity, the blunt materiality, the standing-against, the hard edge to push oneself against, the resistance and friction that physical objects have. So, out of my Being, a world was spun.
“Lord, what exactly is my assignment?”
The world needs to understand My story, or at least to understand it better. I have given parts of the story to different people at different times. The whole now needs to be told. Your effort will be part of telling that whole story.
“Do You want people to piece the whole together out of the parts?”
What I most want is for people to listen to Me.
“And to listen to what You have told various people over the ages?”
Yes, that is part of listening to Me.
“What exactly do You want me to write?”
God: An Autobiography. My story is the history of Me—how I came to be.
“The story of your interactions with various peoples?”
That but not only that. Tell it from My point of view, not the history of people’s experience of God.
“Lord, the total story of Your interaction with people would be too vast.”
No, all history is selective. Use a different word—like episodes—if you like. But it is history in the sense of being chronological, developmental, and dramatic in some sense. There is a subjective point of view (Myself), intentions and concerns for the future, regrets about the past, and so forth.
“What are the materials for this history? The great religious texts?”
Yes, of course. That is one side of the human-divine (interaction), like hearing one end of a telephone conversation. So that is one starting point. But there are others as well, and I have been leading you to them—the physical record, the geological record, the biological development, the stars and galaxies, time and creation, and so on.
And I will tell you many things Myself—that is the “new revelation” aspect. Nothing overly dramatic there—I reveal Myself all the time.
“So I should read the scriptures of the major religions?”
Yes, I want you to read the early spiritual history of mankind. I will lead you to which readings. I would like you to pray as you read them and take notes as directed.
I grew up at a time when “man” and “mankind” referred to both men and women, and God spoke to me in my own vernacular.
“Lord, You said I was to tell Your story ‘from the inside out.’ But reading the scriptures is ‘from the outside in.’”
Yes, tell My story as I tell it to you. The only purpose for reading is to give you reference points for understanding My story.
“Lord, if I am going to ‘get into Your head,’ it would be helpful to know what You are up to, what Your ultimate goal is.”
No, your job is not to “get into My head.” Remember, I am telling you what is “in My head.” You are not trying to empathize with a fictional or historical character. You have the living Person right here, and I will tell you.
“But, as I prepare for the work …”
You are making this falsely complicated because you are not trusting Me. You think you will have to do this on your own by deciphering the cultural forms and so forth. But it is exquisitely simple. You ask Me what you are to read or to study. And then You ask Me what I was up to in relation to what you are reading or studying. And you don’t need to worry about the total compass or overall story, because I will lead you item by item.
“Lord, how should I approach the ancient scriptures?”
Get into the frame of mind for reading the (particular) work. That frame of mind is reverential, quiet, respectful, open-hearted. It does not consist of analyzing metaphors and stories of gods. Just take in what comes to you.
Abigail’s train was late. I had been waiting at Union Station for over an hour and stood to stretch my legs. Some now-forgotten images passed before my eyes, and then,
I want you to be My new Elijah.
“Your new Elijah?” I did not know whether to feel flattered, or overwhelmed, or just crazy. I protested, “Lord, I am not worthy.”
I will decide who is worthy.
I didn’t know what a new Elijah was supposed to be but I knew I did not want the job. “Lord, I don’t have faith enough.”
You have more faith than you know.
“Who is Elijah?”
He is the prophet.
“What is he to me?”
He is you.
I didn’t think that meant that I was literally a reappearance of Elijah, but still I objected, “No, Lord, this is just crazy.”
He is you.
I remembered Abraham Lincoln’s story about the man who was tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. “If it weren’t for the honor of the thing,” the man said, “I would rather have walked.” And I had seen the war movies, “You will have the honor of leading the assault.” Some honors aren’t worth it.
I did feel the honor. God was about to put His seal on this role for me, a role more suitable for a real Elijah. I felt a swell of pride, as I was being told this, and immediately the line went dead. Ego had broken the connection.
Abigail’s train had still not arrived. I paced back and forth, no longer seeing the other people in the station. What to think? What to feel? Finally, I forced a deep breath and, with irritation mitigated by resignation, asked, “Lord, what exactly do You want of me?”
I want you to describe the inner life of God, what it is like to be God.
The inner life of God? What it is like to be God? I didn’t know what this could possibly mean, but I forged on. “Lord, why is that important for us to know?”
Mankind sees God only from the outside and that leads to distortions in its view of God, as it would of anyone—too distant, awesome, oppressive, Other. Even mystics are very one-sided. They experience oneness but that is not the same as empathizing with My subjective experiences.
Okay, I could see that, if God is too distant, it would be hard to relate to Him, but there was a problem. “Lord, we think of God as being so infinite and ethereal that ‘subjective experience’ doesn’t even make sense.”
Exactly—that’s one of the distortions. Although I am much more than a Person, I am a Person, a soul, like you. You—people—cannot relate properly, constructively, to Me unless you understand that. (Take) love, for example. My love comes across as impersonal, generic, oceanic wallowing, but (in fact) it is quite specific, concrete, with feeling, with response to the particulars of your being, of your life.
I want you to tell My story.
I was relieved at not having to become a Christian. But I still wanted to know whether the standard Christian beliefs about Jesus were true. “Lord, is Jesus Your Son?”
I wondered about the doctrine of the Trinity, that God comprises the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “Lord, is Jesus God?”
I had trouble tracking these answers. “But You told me I should not become a Christian.”
Yes, you should not.
“But You just said …”
To believe that Jesus is My Son is not the same as being a Christian. Christianity is a sect, with some truths but many limitations. Study Jesus, learn from him, but do not become a Christian.
What are the alternatives, I wondered? There are Messianic Jews who accept Jesus as the Messiah and perhaps as God. “Lord, should I become a Messianic Jew?”
You should look into it.
I did look into it and, as far as I could tell, they were about the same as evangelical Christians, except they retained a strong sense of their ethnic Jewishness. Since I am not Jewish and had been told not to become a Christian, and they were both, this was not for me.
I don’t care whether there is life after death. That may seem odd, but I tend to be a contrarian with regard to my own feelings, a habit since childhood. So I do not live a roller-coaster of hopes and fears. My emotions are like the plains of Kansas, so flat water doesn’t know which way to run. That includes the afterlife. Still, as long as I had God on the line, it seemed like something I should ask about.
I was reprimanded for asking. I was told that I didn’t really want to know, I was asking merely because I thought I should, and I should figure out why I didn’t want to know.
At first, I had no idea, but then it came to me. As I pictured the afterlife, it was boring and lonely, like driving all night on one of those long western highways.
Then I was given a series of images—more accurate ways to picture the afterlife. The first was to become immersed in wonders of nature of incomparable beauty. The second was to imagine being an Einstein whose mind now grasped fully all the vast mysteries of the universe, having the ultimate “Aha!” experience over and over again. Another was listening with full intensity to music more lovely than any the world has ever known. Or, finally, it was like being in love, but with a vaster compass, sustained over endless time, and receiving boundless love in return.
Where to Find God
Rightly or wrongly, mysticism is often considered the highest level of religion, but for a long time, there were no mystics. God was interacting with people in many ways, but not yet through mystical union. Then the first mystic seers appeared. In prayer, God explained,
Now people were coming to me—not in limited ways, praying and offering sacrifices and so forth—but in a kind of merger … they were entering into Me, and I was receiving them. That was a new experience.
“So You responded?”
It is hard to explain. It’s like suddenly finding that you are the natural home for these creatures … the bosom or womb or home or ocean that all return to.
That sounded as if mystical union might be the ultimate way to relate to God, but I was told,
That is no more important a part of My nature than others we have discussed … .
And then another thing happened. Much more than before, these sages began to ponder My nature and (to) try to articulate their understanding of it.
And two changes occurred as a result. First, for the first time, I was an object, to be defined and analyzed. It is like your first experience with a psychologist who has a lot of boxes to put you in (introverted, repressed, etc.). As God, I had not pondered My own “nature.” I had no need to “define” Myself, but the effort of others to do so had an impact …
It came clearer that I was an object to others, a source of puzzlement, even mystery, to them. In fact, they would say that My nature was ineffable, beyond all language, all logical categories. They would describe Me in paradoxes—neither existent nor non-existent, and so forth.
And this has an impact. I did not feel ineffable. To be sure, I am hard to describe and human concepts are not adequate, but that is true of the physical universe as well.
“You say it has an impact?”
It creates a problem. It puts a barrier between Me and My creatures. How can they approach the ineffable? And even that mystical aspect leads them to regard Me as a pea-soup they want to dive into.
It did leave Me with a problem: how to break through the fog ….
“Then mystical union is not the goal? The purpose is to live the life you’re given? Is that right, Lord?”
So: Don’t worry about the pea-soup or the ineffable Whatever. Just live the life you’re given. Tread the path in front of you. You will find God there, waiting to share the journey with you.
We were living in Memphis, Tennessee, where my dad was going to college on the G.I. Bill. We attended my grandmother’s Pentecostal church. I would listen to what grownups said and try to think whether they were true or not—especially when they contradicted themselves. If heaven was a place of eternal joy, why didn’t they rejoice when somebody died? They made way too much of dressing up for church, when what mattered—they said—was the state of your soul.
“Lord, I took things people said seriously and placed the highest value on truth and on being right with God.”
Yes, that is important!