What Is Your Experience with God?

Have you had moments you sensed the divine presence – that God was near, or in your heart?  Have you prayed for guidance and felt you received it?  Or have you had spiritual experiences of a different kind?  Others can benefit from hearing your story.  Please share it with us here.

 

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69 thoughts on “What Is Your Experience with God?

  1. -- Reply

    There was a time in my life were I was not happy. But one morning I experienced the most beautiful moment of my life.
    The day was 15th may and on my Bible app that is on my Phone it said: Psalm 118:24 This is the day that the lord has made, and its good that we experience this day with big happiness.

    When I woke up I had read that and I was still laying in my bed. On the app there is a reading plan that helps u through life with tasks and scriptures to read. So the first task was ASK- God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down, inviting God to be present. I was a little lazy to get up, so I kept laying in bed put my Phone away and hesitated to speak out loud. Instead I started thinking about life, and my struggles, and God. Yesterday, I was on my way to church and I decided to go back home not telling anyone why.. It rained the whole day when I got home.. Like God was sad for me skipping church or something.. So I thought about me being lonely as well.

    I started to cry silently. The thing is.. when I cry I can control myself and stop crying by thinking about something else. I cried silently with no sound.. just tears falling from my face. and everyone in my household was either gone to school or work except my dad. He was sleeping in the living room on the couch. I wanted to stop crying but all of a sudden I started crying with Sound! and UNCONTROLLABLY! Like something took over.. I was surprised, a little scared, relieved .. many emotions were running through me at the same time. I was crying so loud that I was surprised I didn’t wake my dad up.. The most beautiful thing happened when I cried uncontrollably.. My bed is faced towards the Windows in my room and my windows were closed. I could HEAR the weather outside my room changing to a FAST wind.. it was going so fast like a tornado or a fast train. I couldn’t see it because I used the sheets to wipe my tears.. But I knew it was God. I have never felt or experienced something like this.. When I stopped crying I felt joy and I was slowly laughing through my tears and I could hear the weather changing back to normal again..

    It is something u can’t explain as a human being because it is GOD. I have read a lot of stories where people have encounters with God but one thing I notice is they Always write is that they can’t explain it.. And now I totally understand why. After that happened I said : I love you God. Because he had visited me and I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew he was with me all the time, but to actually have the privilege to experience his Goodness is so wonderful! He knows u better then u know yourself. I’m so thankful that God chose me to have that experience with, After that I prayed and shared my stories with others. I feel a lot better and this was like crying my troubles away. I really needed that because I was feeling very lonely and now I’m curious to know what God has in store for me.

    1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. It is chock full of spiritual lessons you discerned. When is it “just” the wind, and when is it the wind of God? Don’t they sound just the same? Well, actually, no, they don’t. When you have a clear and honest soul — those were real tears and heartfelt cries — and have the spiritual ears to listen, you can recognize God’s breath. Of course, people can’t explain it — to “explain” it usually means to reduce it to something unspiritual, to explain it away, to deny it. If you have the experience, you know what it is — it doesn’t need explaining. You responded with a full and generous heart: “I love you God.” And you knew you weren’t alone. People complain that God didn’t make a perfect world, that good people suffer, etc., etc., and you can debate that without end. But what we most want, what we most need, is to not be alone. You now know you are not alone, that God is with you, that God is present to your life, and it is a loving presence. You are right to share your story with others, and to post it here. We learn from one another’s spiritual journeys, adventures, and ups and downs. We can learn, for example, from your final thought: to keep a keen eye out for what God has in store for you. Now that God has got your attention, there may be something he wants you to do. It may be some dramatic assignment — to feed the hungry in Africa — or it might be something as simple as being nicer to your parents or your friends or as studying harder or playing more fairly. Acts of kindness, fairness, duty, and self-care are the main stuff of a life in synch with God.

  2. Cat Park Reply

    I don’t know if anyone will read this. But I am excited and I am at peace. I want to share what happened to me. I’m 17 years old. My name is Cat Park. Before this happened I didn’t know what to call myself. I believed in God, but I didn’t. I was open that there was a God out there. I come from a rough life. People have been in and out of my life and I rarely find myself getting attached to people because I know that they’re just going to leave. Recently I found myself thinking about how I needed a constant, and I was thinking I really truly needed to seek God out. Last night I had a dream. It was so weird. But there was a particular moment in my dream where I was on my front porch looking at the sky and I asked “God, are you there?” And written in clouds appeared the word ‘yes.’ When I looked back it was gone. But today I was going through a particularly rough day and I was crying in my room. And I decided to try something from my dream last night. And so I asked God, “Are you there?” I looked up like I did in my dream and kept looking at my ceiling scanning for an answer. And right next to my fan there was His answer. On my ceiling there are ridges and bumps Idk what you call that but in those ridges and bumps I saw the word “yes.” And it’s still there and it hasn’t gone away. And I have to keep looking at it to make sure it’s real. But God is there. And he listens. I’ve been waiting for God to show himself to me and throughout my life I’m sure he did. But he finally gave me what I needed and that was a clear answer. It may be hard to believe but I hope God sends you a clear message or feeling someday to you too.

    1. Joanne Nitkowski Reply

      Cat, thank you for writing about your experiene with God. I just wanted you to know that people are listening! May I share my experience? I am finding that when my heart is honest, and I am seeking, I find Him in all that is good, and right, and true. For He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. And He is life, and no lie is of the truth. And this is my knowledge of God that is beginning to become real in my life, because it is changing me on the inside and helping me to become the kind of person who loves what is good. And God is good!

      1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

        Thank you, Joanne, for supporting Cat and sharing your own experience of God. When, though a lifelong nonbeliever, I had my own encounter with God, I found three striking traits — God was undeniably real, benign, and authoritative. I have found God to be that way ever since the events recorded in God: An Autobiography.

    2. Jerry L. Martin Reply

      Yes, God is the great Constant, the ever-present, loving Witness of your life, the Companion who knows your suffering and your loneliness and shares your burdens and cares. It is great that you looked to God for an answer, and wonderful that God responded in so vivid a way. Be well, and bless you!

    3. Carter Colson Reply

      Cat, I’m very happy to hear about your Godly moment and am so happy for you., I am also 17 and my name is Carter. I grew up as a popular kid who had sex at an early age and started sinning young. Thankfully, my brother had shown me God and that He is real through his examples in life. My brother is only 4 years older than me and we are nothing alike physically. He has always been a computer geek and got bullied growing up. From him, I gained sympathy and compassion for all people. About a year ago I had broken up with my girlfriend who I had been dating for about a year before that. Throughout the relationship, I was leading her on and making her love me, when all I was thinking about was sexual sin. At the beginning of the relationship, I had been praying and praying that I’d fine someone and God sent me her. I turned my back on God by creating a mindset for myself that this relationship was going to be temporary. 6 months go by and I took this girls virginity and instantly lost all feelings for her. I knew what I had done was not right and that the lust I had for this girl was tearing me apart. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror for I felt too much shame. The pain of turning my back on God was too much for me so I broke up with her. I was devastated and at the lowest point of my life I had ever been. The night I broke up with her, my brother and my mom both went on their first dates with the love of their lives. Today, they are still dating these people and my mom got moved out of her crummy house into her boyfriends beautiful house who is a Godly man. My brother, on the other hand, continued to date his girlfriend until 5 months into the relationship where she was sentenced to jail for past mistakes. Within those 5 months, I witnessed my brother and my mother fall in love the correct way. This made me pray and pray that I may too experience love the way they did. My brothers girlfriend has been in jail for 8 months now and he still calls her everyday. God has displayed love for me through the holy spirit of my brother and my mom. My senior year began in august, 2 months after my brothers girlfriend has been in jail, and that was when I began speaking to God and being in his presence day by day. Every day, I began getting closer to the one I love. Finally, God gave me the perfect girl who I feel no jealousy, anger, shame, worry, or doubt with her. I never will experience those things because love doesn’t consist of any of that, and the only true way to gain love is through God. So far, I have been preaching about God and Jesus to the rest of my school for I feel I need to express His love to everyone: that is my purpose on this earth. I am here to tell you that God is more real than he has ever been, He is here! Now that I am spiritually prepared to be with the girl I love because of the love displayed from my brother and my mom, God is allowing me to fall in love and never experience jealousy, worry, doubt, hatred, shame, or lust again.

      1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

        Regardless of wrongs, you showed great spiritual openness in correctly observing, and taking to heart, the meaning of the examples set by your brother and your mother. Divine love and human love are intertwined. Our love for one another orients our souls toward God. That is true even of sexual love, when it is really love, not just lust. Our love flows “upward” toward God. Divine love flows “downward” through our love for one another. These are truths you have been learning from your own experience. You will have a long future, and many surprised, ahead of you. Meeting the right girl is the greatest gift God could give you! But do not expect to glide to a perfect life. Do not be surprised, or thrown off, by ups and down. God will be by your side in bad days as well as the good. Your task is meet whatever challenges come your way and stay on course. Those will be lessons God sends you way. Bless you!

  3. Lukman Clark Reply

    In the late summer of 1979 I was given a vision of the simultaneity of lives, past, present, future. It took me a few years to find the vocabulary to begin to describe this. The following poem gives an idea of it.

    Chronosphere

    A. I spied her geometry moving
    Along with her to market,
    A triaxial conformation
    For all the world appearing
    To advance along a single line
    Of time’s n coordinates.
    To the howsoever blinder eye
    My peripatetic Patti Doe
    Travels in a greater company
    Of hidden intervals, revolving
    Vertices, braces, trusses
    Of time lines intersecting.

    B. The curve of time arcs unseen,
    Horizons misinforming,
    Overreaching the anxious mind.
    What seems a dark ending edge
    Is only gentle bending.
    Not big bangs, not great crushes,
    To use measures different,
    The ways of time demarcate.

    C. Biting of the luminous apple,
    Fruit of the knowledge of time,
    We experience the shortest time
    Between times out of time lies.

    9-5-83

    1. Jerry L. Martin Reply

      Yes, “between times out of time lies.” You probably have not come to it yet in God: An Autobiography, but I am told repeatedly that time is not what we think of it as being, and it came to me that it was like a simultaneity of times. In some sense hard to grasp, all times — past, present, and future — are always present, always real. Thank you for sharing these insights, expressed so poetically, with me and with my readers.

  4. Jacqui Brooks Reply

    My moment with God came to me after the death of my (then) only child Gregory. We had lived alone together and I was a single mother.
    I returned home from the cemetery after visiting Greg’s grave and I put a c.d on the stereo.
    My sweet Lord.
    I moved to walk toward my kitchen and as I did, I felt a source of love (only way I can describe it) being poured into my entire body from the top of my head. I was overcome with a love I had never experienced before and in this state of mind I uttered the words “I love Jesus Christ with all my heart and so”. I had never before stated ANYTHING religious and I probably don’t go around stating it now. But I was so overcome by this experience I wanted to shout it out loud GOD IS REAL and I know this because I have just experienced him. I had no faith before this experience and in my grief and misery,I was in hell. God and his mercy gave me this experience to remember for the rest of my life. I continued to have some profound experiences around this time and I was given a vision of my son after he had passed. I still don’t understand why but now I know that God is real and I love him. These experiences have long passed but I still think of them every day

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Thank you for sharing this moving experience. You have described it as it came to you – “a source of love” – and this sudden awareness that God is real. And you took it to heart. You report it not merely as a “once, a long time ago” experience but one “to remember for the rest of my life.” That experience radiates love and understanding over your entire life. And, thanks to your sharing it, the glimmer of your experience now warms and enlightens all of us. Thank you, Jacqui. May God continue to shine on you.

  5. Steven Michael O'Shea Reply

    My first experience with the Holy Spirit was when I was baptised at night in a lake at the age of around 10 years old. I recall being enveloped by a bright light and the feeling of sheer joy it brought me to tears. Though it felt like a goodbye rather than a hello. It was intense and it is a memory which will stay with me for the rest of this life experience.

    I remember when I was in my early 20s I was at the train station drunk with friends and I stupidly stood on the rail line and was electrocuted. It was a scary experience. I remember feeling the electricity surge through my entire body and seeing the train coming towards me. “Luckily” I did not stick to the track and I was able to get clear of the on coming train. I thought I was “lucky” to be alive but now I know it just wasn’t my time and I was actually spared because the experience of physical pain was not enough for me.

    I then had to endure the death of my nan, then I had to watch my father die in front of my two children and then my special friend Rosey died in my arms. This all happened within the space of six months.

    You see it should be no emotional pain no gain because Rosey’s sudden and totally unexpected death was my catalyst. My faith was tested but then during my darkest time of utter despair was when I found you and I confess you are the best thing I have experienced. Eye found true love and I will never let you go lol

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Your story is so extreme that I can’t tell if it is a parody (ending with “lol”) or just an extraordinarily difficult path to faith. I hope it is the latter, which would mean that, in spite of all your suffering, you have been able to open your heart to faith and a great blessing has come into your life. If the former, you have been disrespectful and moved farther away than ever. Either way, I hope and pray for the best for you.

  6. Alyssa Reply

    An amazing, real, experience just happened to me but I must share!! To start off I am 14 years old. When I was younger, my parents had never taught me about God. My mom didn’t believe so I was raised not to believe. My dad believed, but he never taught me about it. Lots of pain and suffering happened to me in my life. My parents were divorced, I was emotionally and physically abused by my mother and brother. I was manipulated and a very confused girl. I have a very low self esteem. I lost many many friends because how depressed I have been becoming. I was even recently a victim of a sexual crime. I committed a lot of wrong too. This included doing drugs, hanging with the wrong people, and getting into trouble at school. Everyone around me was depressed. They mistreated me and now we’re disappointed in me and made me lose all confidence. I didn’t believe God was real at all, only that my dad talked to me about it a lot and I gained a bit of interest. But still, things were terrible. My dad is broke with barely any money. Well today was a bad day for me. I felt overwhelming depressed and sad. I was getting suicidal. I looked at my phone to find my dad texted me that I needed to pray right now. I broke into tears and prayed to God. I asked him to protect me and my dad. I asked him to bring me love and joy and to forgive me and let me spread happiness. But I had doubt and I cried and cried. As I went to bed that night, I laid in my bed. My mind was racing so I had an urge to write in my journal. I began writing about how depressing my day was, but then a sudden burst of positivity went through out my body. God was speaking to me through my writing in the journal. I was writing about positivity and steps into a new chapter of my life. I will get protection and good will come to me. I am shocked and have never felt such a powerful love from God. I wanted to cry in tears of joy. I grabbed a bible my dad had given to me. I spoke to God and told him to open onto a page where he can talk to me and tell me what I need to hear. Chills ran through my body and I carefully held my fingers through the pages. Then I felt a crease. I opened to the page Psalm 3, which is protection. It acceptance of job also, which good things started to happen once God accepted hints. The psalm talked about protection. There was a part I read that said “I cried to God to speak to me and he could hear me. I woke up and he abstained me”. Very powerful to what had just happened to me. Remember I am 14, raised not to believe in God, and I was spoken to. I truly know God is real and he is bringing positivity. I am connected to the Holy Spirit. Love and protection is coming. I have to share this amazing experience. I have gained full faith, and feel as a new person. Lots of love x

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      You have taught us all several important lessons, Alyssa. God can speak to any person, regardless of age or past belief. God can speak to us when we are at the very pit of life, as well as when we are on top. We relate to God best when we are not just selfish but, as you do, pray for your dad and to let you “spread happiness.” One way we talk with God, whether we are aware of it at the time, is through quiet communication with ourselves, such as writing in a journal. And that can also be a way God answers. As you aptly say, “God was speaking to me through my writing in the journal.” Another way is by reading the Bible or some other source of inspiration. I have received divine guidance by a line in a novel suddenly seizing my attention. It is wonderful that, through all the emotional battering, you have been able to open your heart, seek “positivity,” take in God’s love, and “feel as a new person.” Thank you, Alyssa. Your story is a blessing to all of us.

  7. Maxine Doles Reply

    This has been a fascinating experience, reading all the comments from these wonderful people that have had various walks with our Lord and life itself. It never ceases to amaze me that we serve a God that is always every day, day in and day out, allowing us to see His glory and His desire for us to accept Him, the creator that made us and who knows us better than anybody on this earth. He knows the beginning to the end and everything in between; trying to guide us, talking to us, providing us with various situations to accept Him, never giving up, in order to deepen our faith and better help us understand His never ending love, His grace and mercy.

    His word says, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. We, of course, have many trials and tribulations through this life; we are in a world of sin with satan nipping at our heels each day. It is a battle between “Good and Evil”. Who is going to win? It is our decision and only our decision. It is so very important to God, the most important decision we will ever make. It is the decision of life eternal with God and our loved ones OR eternal darkness. Yes, I have seen God do His wondrous works and He still working with me, forgiving me each day.

    I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 47. I knew God at the time, I was a believer. I experienced His presence on two occasions during this challenging time. While I was lying in bed in the hospital and had already gone through three surgeries… I was in a private room, it was early in the morning around 2 a.m., my eyes opened to see the curtain open slightly to see an outline or figure, my arm was touched and a voice said, “you are going to be okay”. I truly believe when God speaks to you, you somehow know it is from Him. It’s hard to explain, but You just know it is Him… an experience you never forget. I had another experience while I was rehabbing at home… again I felt his His presence in the room, giving me a feeling of peace and comfort. I never questioned it, it was very clear to me.

    I am now 73 years old and so many situations have come and gone and my faith has been strengthened with each one. My prayers today regarding any and all situations, that the end results will be His will ONLY. I have lost a child, I have had many deaths in my family, my husband has recently had open heart surgery, I have been rich and I have been poor. I am a normal person; living, loving and praying until my life is over on this earth. I have full and complete assurance that when I die that my next life will be made perfect, without sickness, without tears or death…why? because HE HAS TOLD ME SO!!

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Thank you for your moving testimonial. It is uncanny that, when God speaks to us or is palpably present, we somehow know that it is God. As a philosopher, trained to doubt everything, I find this an extraordinary fact. I would not have believed it, if it had not happened to me personally. Maxine, as a cancer survivor and as a parent who has lost a child, you have come through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. God has been by your side even, perhaps especially, in the suffering. And you have had the wisdom not to turn away from the divine presence. Be well, my friend.

  8. Brandon Lee Reply

    The time between my prior lover and current was short, maybe a month. I personally did not consider her a rebound, the connection with her started from a core value: Christianity. From the onset the relationship seemed justified and correct, we fell in love and time progressed. I cut off all connections — with the persuasion of my new lover and a few mistakes of my own — with my ex and she was not to hear from me for years. Before the final cords were cut, my ex told me she had found God, and I was genuinely happy – my current lover believed it was a ploy to get me back (can’t say I blame her).

    Onto the present; my ex messaged me a couple weeks before I was planning on proposing to my current lover (interesting timing…). This message contained a plea to me calling out for forgiveness of her actions toward me during our relationship and asking me to let her know that I do not hold poison towards her so she could move on spiritually. I knew in my heart that I had forgiven her and let it go, but as far as she could see I had written her off long ago and never wanted anything to do with her.

    At first, I wanted to reply, but I spoke with my current lover first and she did not want me to and I convened (my ex stated I did not have to respond, but in reality humans usually always want responses).

    Time passed and I began to forget about the message from the excitement of being engaged, but then through social media I saw memories pop up with her and suddenly a weight started to hit my heart… I felt the urge to respond.

    For almost two weeks my conscious was reminding me of memories of her, and I began to feel pain within my soul and anguish in the heart. I needed to respond…

    So I did, through a social media, expecting a response the next day or so but it never happened. I was a bit distraught thinking maybe she did not want to respond, but then, this is where I believe God kicked in.

    My mother’s coworker happened to be wearing her work shirt while picking up her child from school, and guess who happened to ask her if she knew my mother? My ex.

    So my mother calls me before work and tells me this then my mind goes crazy thinking that maybe there is a way to get connected and wala it came to me — my mother could message her through social media and ask for her email.

    So I reiterated what I sent through social media and sent it to her email knowing that now she will see it.

    Her response did not come until two days later, but it lifted the burden that my heart had been holding onto and made my heart warm. I feel like God was calling us to put the last chapter between us behind so she and I can both move forward in our spiritual lives.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Brandon, you have to balance what you feel God wants with your own best judgment and sense of responsibility toward the people involved. Usually, former loves have to move into the past, and one’s current love must take priority. Why balance what God wants? Because maybe it is not what God wants. It is hard to be sure. In anything that engages a mix of strong feelings, it is hard for us to separate divine prompts that are real from other pulls and pushes. I don’t know what you should do, of course, but it might be well to tread slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully. I hope your resolution of the situation is right for all concerned, God included.

  9. Sandra Reply

    I feel He finds me a very difficult person. I also feel that He knows that my intentions are good, although at times I get very angry and don’t apologize for what i say or do. On the flip side of the coin, He knows who I am He knew it right from the beginning. My experience with God is this, the help and persistence and stamina that He sent to me when dealing with Bank of America over almost losing our home due to their error was phenomenal. I kept getting messages about David slaying Goliath. So this Italian woman got stronger and stronger, I was led to a great attorney, last name of Abdullah, meaning in Arabic servant of God. Funny huh,not a christian, he helped me with the language of law, and how to present things he helped me on an as needed basis and the fees were not expensive. God helped me get right into the office of Brian Moynihan CEO of BofA I emailed his office with a letter basically telling him of what his bank has done, I was not nice, and reminded him of how BofA actually started, I sent the same letter over and over and bombed up his email, 3 days later I got a call from his office. 3 a very magic number. From then on the situation here with my home was getting taken care of. I won this battle, Goliath was taken down with an apology, a better rate, and a new modification contract that my lawyer Mr. Abdullah said was great, because before I signed anything he needed to see it. Then Mr. Abdullah said, I don’t know how you did this, this very rarely happens, but I am very proud of you. That is how God worked with me, I still think he needs to go out for a smoke break once in awhile in his dealings with me, LOL, I do get really angry at Him still at times, but I know I do bring up some very valid points. Again, he knows I am difficult. LOL

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      We are all difficult, Sandra, lol. But that need not stop us from working
      with God as best we can, just as you did here. And, at the end of it all,
      it was Goliath, not you, who was flat on the ground. Be well.

  10. Reubensis Reply

    A chronic sinner though I am, is it possible for me to experience God? To surrender my whole being to Him, I want to be a blazing fire for God. Sir, how can I achieve this, please assist me less I wallow away in sin but one thing that gives me strongest of heart is that my soul was not created by Satan and can never get to him. I soley really on your good advice for I feel His Presence in me but don’t know how to turn it on.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      To your first question, the answer is definitely Yes. Later in the book, I
      am told, “In a sense, it is only sinners I love.”

      To feel the Divine Presence may be simpler than you think. You do not need
      a superhuman leap into pure holiness. The key is to focus on what God wants
      for you in particular. When I get impatient I am told, “Remember, your only
      job is to do each day what I want you to do, even if it is just to sit
      there.” He may want you just to rest quietly in His Presence.

      How do you do that? The first step is to stop worrying about being a
      sinner. Don’t worry about your past — that just makes it harder to turn to
      God. Look forward, not backward. Just relax and put your self-concerns (am
      I too big a sinner? how can I become a blazing fire?) aside. Just try to
      still your mind and heart. Take one small step. One day I decided to have
      lunch with God, the sort of lunch where the two of you just enjoy each
      other’s company without having to talk.

      When you pray, still your feelings, pray quietly, and ask yourself, if God
      had something to tell me today, what would it be? At first, it won’t seem
      different from just you thinking and play-acting God’s side of the
      conversation. Trust that, once you get the clutter out of the way, God will
      be able to lead your thoughts in a fruitful direction. You will be standing
      in the divine light, whether you know it or not. Eventually, you will be
      able to sense His Presence, perhaps only faintly and uncertainly, but He is
      there.

      Please keep me posted about how you are doing.

      J.

  11. marina Reply

    I have experienced an encounter with Jesus just as I have experienced encounters with demons and satan himself. This morning I had a dream and it was satan laughing at me. I woke up from this dream to realize God has a plan for me. He has given me a gift. In my dreams are when spirits and the devil try to attack, but here I am able to speak about it. God woke me up this morning and I know he wants me to spread his word. I want to give my all to the Lord and it is truly the greatest feeling. I hope someone reads this and asks about this gift, there is so much more to tell.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      I tend not to think about evil in a personified form, but what theologian
      Paul Tillich called the “demonic” does seem to be an aggressive force in the
      world. There will be more about evil later in the book. It isn’t clear
      what it is that God wants you to do — this is one of the most difficult
      moments in spiritual discernment! May God bless you and guide you with
      wisdom and love!

  12. Charles Reply

    I’m not really looking for a solution, but rather maybe an observation to my experience. I was having a good day hanging with my friends and everything going pretty swell. When I went home I was confronted with a problem that I had been dealing with in my personal life. I always prayed to god about it, but in a simple matter of just words, not going into depth about how I felt on the matter. This day the problem really got to me and I had to speak to someone about it. I went over to my couch and started praying silently to myself. As I continued praying the problem just started to break me down, I started praying harder and harder and harder till I was out of words. I told God I was lost, and sincerely couldn’t take it anymore. That although he never speaks directly to me that I need a sense of direction, that I needed help at probably one of the lowest points I had faced in my life. I kept praying until there was nothing left, and probably at the very climax of my prayer something I can’t truly describe happened. I had went down to my knees and started begging for help, I mean begging like I’ve never done before in my life, and I’ve been through some tough stuff. As I’m on my knees, I start to feel very light almost as if I could float and a very strong presence around me. The feeling you get when your eyes are closed and you just know there’s someone close to you. I let the feeling stay for a bit, and then it got so overwhelming I had to open my eyes and look around, I strongly felt my chances seeing something out of the norm would be good. I opened them and nothing was there. Although the sun outside beaming through my window, was so bright and had a very bright white color to it. My room didn’t have the lights on and was full of light. I didn’t end the prayer cause I felt there was more to be said, but I literally couldn’t get words to say from my thoughts. I pray a lot probably hourly, I’ve had my prayers answered before so I know God was real. Usually my prayers are the same short with emotion but never really any true passion. I was born Jehovah witness, which gave me the opportunity later in life to leave the religion because of how strict it was. I am familiar with God. I don’t look at myself as religious, but I am a believer of God. But this incident was different, what I felt was different. Sometimes you have to force your mind to believe you felt something, but no this was physical and mental. I don’t know what it was or why I felt that way, but at one of the lowest points of my life this crazy feeling was brought upon me. Never had I felt it before in a prayer. Almost as if someone told me they were listening. I struggle whether to call myself crazy or embrace and invest in what I felt. I don’t want someone super-religious trying to tell me what happened, but I know I felt something. I don’t really know where to go from here, I’ve already loved God and I pray regularly, I have a strong feeling God will answer my prayer, but I don’t really know. Very confusing episode in my life, as far as what to take on it. God’s never really blunt as to what He does, so you’re left with a whole bunch of missing holes as for what to think. If that was truly Him or if it was something, I truly hope it comes back because there are so many things I need answers for in my life.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      What you have described, Charles, is what it is like to feel the presence of God. “… a very strong presence around me … the feeling you get when your eyes are closed and you just know there’s someone there … almost as if someone told me they were listening.”

      We are not alone. God is with us and on our side. Call yourself crazy? No, this was probably the sanest
      moment of your life. Embrace and invest in what you felt? Yes, it is a blessing, one you should cherish and remember and keep close to your heart.

      My sense is that God will almost certainly help you, but help may come in a form you do not expect. You may not even recognize it as help. It might come from someone around you or within reach — a friend, a minister, a counselor, or just a stranger. It could require that you reach out for their help. Pay close attention if you sense that God is pointing you in a direction. Be well, my friend, and God bless!

  13. Matthew Foster Reply

    Jerry, reflection on your experience of hearing God speak to you reminds me of others with similar accounts, and both lead me to consider a variety of questions. Various people in history have said God spoke to them, and now a friend of mine, whose sanity and rationality I do not doubt, is one of them. What am I to make of what he reports—and of what others reported long ago as well? I notice that as long as I am in the majority who has not had such an experience, I can comfortably view your and their accounts as curious, puzzling specimens of abnormal human experience. But even a brief look at what more than a few people have written at this website indicates that there are more like you than I imagined–yikes!—leaving me to wonder if we “normal” people are actually in the minority, and you all know something the rest of us don’t!

    What should we make of such experiences? What do you make of your own experience, Jerry, and how do you compare it to other such cases in history? You have written eloquently of how you accepted the authenticity of what you experienced. But I know you acknowledge that such an acceptance is not the end of reflection on what has happened to you. Is God really speaking to you and to all of these people in history? What about the ancient prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea—did they really hear what they wrote down? Or did they invent it and deceive us? Or were they trying to give expression to what they thought God would say if God were to speak in a human language? But then why go to such lengths to describe a seemingly independent source of these thoughts? Whatever we conclude about them, should it also guide how we view other famous cases? What did Muhammad really hear or experience? Or Joseph Smith who founded the Mormons, or Mother Ann who started the Shakers? What about Baha’u’llah of the Bahais, Guru Nanak of the Sikhs, or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of the Ahmadiyyas?

    Are what you and others report to be God’s messages identical or at least consistent, which could suggest they have the same source, or at least are parallel phenomenon? Or are these reports of God’s message incompatible, which could suggest not all of them can be valid, and we have to figure out how to sort through them? Or are none of them what they appear to be, and they should all be demythologized, deconstructed somehow? And in that case, do they tell us more about human beings than about claims for God’s reality or significance? Are the essential choices either “God really speaks to some people” or “This is all imaginary projection”? While these two appear to be mutually exclusive, is it possible in any sense for both to be true? Are there any additional possibilities?

    Of course, any of us can choose to ponder these questions, and to many of us they may seem ultimately irresolvable. But most of us haven’t had the experience of hearing God speak, or even of believing we have received some inaudible kind of message from God. Thus, Jerry, you have an opportunity most of us do not have, to engage in an internal dialogue–between the mind which has had these experiences of God speaking, and the mind that can investigate, as logically and as objectively as one can, what these experiences mean.

    And it’s an opportunity to compare, indeed, to test in some way, the validity of those experiences, or at least to probe their nature, by comparing them with the reports that others have similarly made. Some in your position might reply that doing so is in some way incompatible with accepting the authenticity of the experience, and might therefore deliberately choose not to “stand outside” themselves to examine their experience. But somehow I don’t think you are that kind of person. Nor do I myself think one must take such a position, although I acknowledge that on this I can only speak as an outsider. On the contrary, it seems to me, to be a human being is to be thrown into a life where we cannot avoid such questions, a life in which these questions assail and also intrigue us—and, yes, may also tempt with distracting digressions as well as enlighten with new understanding.

    To take one example of this kind of comparing and testing: Muhammad said God told him there would be no subsequent messengers after him. Yet you are one of many since Muhammad (including several of those noted above) to say God has spoken to you, which already contradicts Muhammad’s account, and according to you, from what I can tell of your experience, God says something quite different than what Muhammad claimed, on this and many subjects. Leaving aside how orthodox Muslims would not only dismiss your claim but regard you as a deceiver and heretical blasphemer, what are we to conclude—and most importantly here, what do you conclude—about the relationship between Muhammad’s account and yours? Who is right, and why?

    But perhaps neither claim should be judged by whether it corresponds to an objective reality, which in any case seems impossible to resolve empirically. Alternatively (and this, for now, is perhaps my response to my own inquiry here), we could interpret such claims through an hypothesis about how all humans are quite capable of finding within ourselves many voices. They range from the “ordinary” internal dialogues and conflicts we all experience, to the neuroses that in some way hobble most of us, to rarer instances of persons with multiple personalities, of cultures where spirit possession proliferates, and of shamans who mediated gods to their communities. All these voices give us information about the world, the whole of reality, and, simultaneously, information by means of which we try to navigate our way in that reality.

    We may wish that the investigation of such experiences could end by telling us whose claims are correct and whose are false. I suspect we all cling (or one of the voices within us clings!) to the hope that there are certain experiences which can be divided into two groups—those to be either respected as authoritative, or dismissed as delusory. And obviously, sometimes we must, with fear and trembling, make such judgments about the more mundane, internal conflicts we all experience. But at least with regard to claims to have heard God’s voice, what seem to be questions about what we can know may really be questions about what we should value—about whether we should regard someone’s “abnormal” experiences as either privileged or pathological, as humans are so wont to do. That is, we would secretly like to find out whether an experience such as yours is something to which we should defer as a foundation for belief and authority (“does Jerry give us new proof of God?”), or is something meaningless or even dangerous (“should we ignore or humor Jerry, or perhaps pity or shun him?”).

    But the more constant and sober truth seems, at least to me, to be that no experience—whether high or low, whether inspiring or suspicious, whether Jerry’s or someone else’s—no experience provides a magical answer to all our questions. And no experience excuses any of us, as either subjects or observers, from the tasks of life and the challenges of being faithful to God as best we can understand God. While that conclusion may be disappointing, there is at least one respect in which it leaves me glad: It preserves Jerry, certainly in my mind and I hope in his, from the burden of somehow having to prove he is neither weirdly gifted nor bizarrely deficient, and lets him continue to be himself—and just my friend.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Most religious people sometimes sense the divine presence. It may be a moment of inner prompting or warning, similar to the voice of conscience. It may be a significant “coincidence” that carries a meaning or a task put in your path or a door suddenly opened. It may be a moment of worship or meditation, of tragedy or joy, of profound loss or miraculous rescue. It may occur in the I-Thou of love and family and friendship, or in appreciation of the mighty frame of the universe, as we sense the divine auspices. Or, for some of us, it comes in a voice or vision. The voice and vision are not strange, separate categories. They are merely at one end of a spectrum of ways the divine reality manifests itself. If you were an atheist, all this would make no sense, of course, but this is a conversation between friends.

      Can such experiences be mistaken? Of course. Human beings are fallible. Mistakes can range from mental derangement to mistaking the thrill of seeing the Grand Canyon for a burst of the divine. This is what theologians know as “the problem of spiritual discernment.” “Test the spirits whether they be of God” is St. Paul’s advice.

      How do you test the spirits, the voice, the divine prompting or warning? There are two places to check, the inward and the outward. Was the person on drugs or prone to fantasy? Does the person have a fanatical desire to believe that God is speaking to him or her, or an ego gratification at stake? When I felt a swell of pride at hearing from God, the line immediately went dead. When I pray, I have to quiet my mind in order to “tune in” to the divine presence. Meditation and devotional moments can be helpful. I have to put aside my own fears and desires, and become quite willing to “let Thy will be done.” The other place to check is the voice or prompting itself. If it is telling me that it is okay to cheat on my wife, it is probably not God speaking. Or to jump off the cliff. Even Jesus rejected such devilish dares.

      Did the ancient prophets actually hear God speak? Why not? It is much more likely (if you believe in God at all) than that they took the liberty to attribute to God merely what they themselves thought. Look at the circumstances. More often than not, they were quite surprised to hear God speaking to them and resisted the assignment God gave them.

      What of all the other prophets and seers? Here we have to exercise spiritual discernment, and it is not easy. Because of my own experience, I have a bias in favor of giving some credence to their reports, but always keeping in mind that we are all fallible. In my own case, it is clear that God speaks to me in my own language and using my own concepts (which are sometimes challenged). God answers questions as I have framed them. Someone else would have asked different questions.

      Later in the book, I am told to read the ancient scriptures of the various religions and ask about them. I am told that the divine reality has many sides, both personal and transpersonal, both immanent and transcendent. One reason the various revelations differ is that the divine reality manifested different sides of itself to different peoples, and I am told why. I am told what parts they got right and what parts less so.
      What status should a reader give to what God has told me? First, I am fallible (as were the seers and prophets). Second, I was told explicitly that God was not giving me any authority. My role is solely to be “an honest reporter of what you are told when you pray.” What should the reader make of this report? Well, it certainly could be the voice of God, as I believe it is, so I think you and other readers should take it seriously. You should read it with an open heart and mind, guided more by your own spiritual attunement than by more distant doubts and worries, and take in those parts that speak to you, as if you alone were their intended audience.

      I have not answered all your questions, Matthew, and I would welcome further discussion. Be well, my friend.

  14. Maple Green Beans Reply

    I really enjoy you sharing your message, THE message, because I do believe their is one unifying message. There is, a for lack of better terms, a harmonic expression that is in all living things; it permeates all that we are and every living thing around us, and we are part of that too.

    When we have something to tell someone,we communicate through words. To be hear, which is a vibration. Cymatics. To feel! To truly feel the greatest story ever told. In the Bible it says in the beginning was the Word. That’s a very powerful statement! So powerful that it caused men to write IT down…for what? What could possibly be so important that men were moved to put what they were experiencing down onto paper. They were inspired!…from breath… from the Living Word! The energy is always there because it comes through us, not to us. A lot of people are waiting for that perfect AH! to come to them without realizing they have to participate in the connection. Its like waiting for the phone to ring rather than picking it up. Its there. Waiting like a lover. For me, we were taught trinity, 3 in 1. So I always anthropomorphically have the Father…The protector, The second part is different because I didn’t have a strong brotherly kind of relationships to associate with, So the second part is like a good Jewish Mother, one who give you advice, warns you of the dangers and prepares you for what is to come. The third part is the Spirit, he’s the one that will take you there, he’s the party bus going to Woodstock. He comes with a lot to share and it is unlimited: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and awe! I think the main thing is to be at peace with the idea that there is a higher power, that we are NOT the be all end all and that we are connected to every single living thing…when you get plugged into that, it really is a WOW! Look forward to reading more!

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Yes, waiting for that perfect Ah, an undeniable epiphany, a clear communication like, as you put it, the phone ringing, is a mistake. Too often we overlook all the other ways the divine is present to us, shimmering beneath the surface of everything we see, humming in the background of wind and surf and word in, as you nicely put it, “a harmonic expression that is in all living things.” We wait for a message that is already there if we but notice it.

  15. piyush goel Reply

    Yes I have true experience with God, in the year 2000,I had a major accident. I was in I.C.U (at that time I did not know how many days had passed). I was unconscious there– all of a sudden I was conscious and I felt there is God near me who saved my life (8-10 fractures,14 blood bottles and many operations and fully 9 months rest).
    YES YES GOD IS WITH ME.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      What strikes me about your story is not so much your dramatic rescue from the brink of death but the deeper miracle that, barely conscious, you were instantly, unmistakably aware of God’s presence, God’s nearness. The worst experience of your life became the best. And, to this day, you know with palpable certitude that God is with you. I pray that you will always be blessed in this way.

  16. JoHn_DoE Reply

    I used to be a person of the world, wallowing in the pleasures and desires of the flesh and laziness. I would sleep with my girlfriend, masturbate, watch pornography, engage in sexual talks, flirt with other women, lust after many others, buy sex toys, over eat, and curse like a sailor;(whilst calling myself an adult). I was obsessed with the sex, like it was a drug or something (lust) and I was also full of envy, and didn’t much care for the scripture at all (I was afraid that it’d cause me to stop sex). I talked my girlfriend out of her walk in Christ for that reason. As a result, she started loving me more than God. Heck, I had my beautiful girlfriend who I planned on marrying (6 year relationship), I didn’t have to worry about rent and became arrogant/filled with pride, was abusive to the special needs kids at my job for fun (wrath), had friends who were almost as bad as me, and was satisfied to let others do for me. I became content and stagnant; no longer seeking more out of life or putting forth any effort to go places (sloth). I was just some overweight sinner (gluttony).

    Then, it all happened in a year: 2011. I had a brain tumor (the doctor said, “if you don’t get it operated on, you WILL die.” That’s pretty scary from your doctor). The surgery was a success but my life was threatened with my head pumping out too much CSF (Google it). So, I had another surgery to put a shunt in. That shunt failed, so another was installed. I had radiation treatments. Got fired from the hotel I worked at, and I got fired from a school I worked at later in the year. Then, the truly crippling thing happened. I came down with radiation side effects which caused swelling in my brain and a loss of some cognition (balance, memory, nystagmus eyes, left eyes stuck left, drooling, slurring speech like my mouth was full, could not swallow food so it came out through my nose, could not get an erection, double breathing at times, mild hallucinations of a bright light behind my eyes that shined, and feeling like my eyes were moving around my face) On top of that, I lost all of my friends, but not my girlfriend. No one else could understand me when I talked, but she could. That is still so precious to me. Sadly, she broke up with me from being stressed out at my condition. Ultimately,she told me goodbye when I explained my love for her will never die. I was upset. I was depressed and hurt. I tried to accept the fact that she was gone, but then I felt something. I loved her, that went without saying, but what I felt was a love that was more powerful than anything ever ( a love that makes you do anything for that other person regardless of you or what happens), true love. I knew that she is the one.

    I was lost. I didn’t understand what happened. Here I was, happy and on top. Now, I was this broken, disabled guy. It was sad. I wondered why God had this happen. Why I was being punished. I thought that he hated me. I started going to church for guidance, looking for some solution. I needed to know, “Why was this happening to me?”. Shortly after that, I made a decision to get my own bible, understanding that God hates no one, and things happen for a reason. About a day after I had it, my speech improved a little.

    I read passages, scriptures, verses, and started living a more Christian lifestyle, meanwhile slowly getting back my physical traits that were gone (speech is nearly all returned to normal, balance has gotten much better, and everything else is recovering). I joined a church in my neighborhood, and look forward to Sundays. Meanwhile, I read my bible daily, no longer cuss, don’t masturbate (nearly for 2 years), I’ve lost 60 pounds, attend college, and I am a great man of faith.

    Now, all that remains is her. I am waiting on her to come back. God told me to just wait, to stay and endure my situation. I’ve had visions and signs from God that point to her return to my life. So with faith, I’ll wait for her. I still love her very much after all, and I can say that with a big smile. I may have lost all my friends, I may be in a home situation that I’m not pleased with right now, but I have faith and hope that it will get better. I hope my story helps someone.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Your story reminds me of the time my parents and a church group visited an inner-city mission. It was the sort of place where someone who is down and out can get a hot meal and a clean bed for the night. We were given a tour and told about the work of the mission, and then we ate with the street people who were there that night. After a bit of talk and singing, anyone who felt moved to say something was invited to do so. To our surprise, one of the most respected members of the church, a solid family man who had a Ph.D. and an important government position spoke up. He told everyone about his own wasted youth, his days as an alcoholic, and how it ruined his life until God, as he felt, turned him around. It was the most moving testimony I had ever heard, and I hoped it did as much for the street people as it did for me.

      Yours is the story of a different but equally destructive addiction, which sent you to the very bottom. One never knows which moments of despair also contain latent hope, an offer of grace. As for your girlfriend, you do need to be careful. The feeling that God is promising to do for us the very thing we most desperately want can just be the echo effect of our own earnest desires. I hope that, if it is right for you and right for her, your dreams will come true. And, if it is not right, may God bless you in His own way.

  17. Letitia Reply

    I would like your input on my situation. I’ve been seriously considering conversion to Judaism from Christianity. I’ve been attending Shabbat Services, and as the Rabbi requested, continued services at my Catholic Church.

    Rabbi asked me to make an appointment to speak with him about my experience in attending services. What I felt and what my thoughts were. He wanted to know my thoughts and feelings knowing I am coming from the Catholic Faith into Judaism; where I always felt I belonged(since I was around 8 years old). When I first began to attend he told me to continue my services at the Catholic Church while I feel my way at Shabbat Services. I did set up my appointment with Rabbi. We spoke, he saw some changes in me. He asked what bothered me the most about services. I told him getting the Hebrew pronunciation correct and keeping up during services in Hebrew. He gave me a book to take home to study. He told me to now set up an appointment with the priest at the church to discuss my possible conversion. I don’t know why he would want me to meet up and discuss my conversion with him(priest). Well, I went to Shabbat last night as usual and attended the Catholic Church today at 5 PM. I never did believe in going on Sunday(man-made law). I spoke to the priest that I had forgotten to call him last week to set up an appointment. He stared at me as if he saw the devil because I was wearing the Star of David. I spoke to him after services. He was rather rude and nasty to me and told me I needed to make up my mind. When I’m just doing what I was told by the Rabbi. All the priest did for me today was make my decision so much easier, in which I was headed the way I’m going anyway. Will just happen so much quicker and easier.

    I truly believe G_d has me going this path for some reason, not just my own reasoning. Awhile back I prayed to G_d. I told HIM I was at a crossroads in my life. I asked for guidance in what direction for me to go. I also said that if it be HIS WILL, then let it be done. I guess the priest’s attitude towards me was my sign.

    I started attending Torah study two weeks ago. I am planning a trip to Israel with the Congregation in February. I won’t know for sure until December about that. I hope there is still room left for me to go at such a late notice. That is if things work out that I can make it. I’m so excited about that!

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      The decision facing you is not uncommon, Letitia. God calls some people to
      stay in the tradition in which they were raised; He calls others to a
      different place. The rabbi was wise in asking you to speak to your priest.
      Sometimes people change faiths for light and transient reasons — the
      minister was boring, or they took offense at something. The question is not
      about particulars you like or dislike. It is about your relationship with
      God. It is about where God is most available to you or wants you to be. As
      far as I can tell, you are going out this decision exactly this spirit.
      Thank you for sharing this with us.

  18. Jenny Reply

    Dr Martin,

    Your latest chapter, 65, has filled me with wonder and recognition. I don’t know how to compose a comment, or how to compose this letter, to be honest, but I will try, because I have received the same revelation from God: that He longs to be related to intimately, authentically, as two people do.

    This has been the crux of His message to me for the past two years. In these past two years, He has drawn me closer and closer to Himself.

    At first, I had the sense of His presence as something like the Shekinah cloud of presence- I had been accustomed to experiencing Him in this way from early mystic experiences and from a year or so in a Pentecostal church.

    Then His presence became almost palpable- as if He was with me in person, but not visible. This shocked me. At this time, I began to do research on the Christian mystic tradition and discovered that Teresa of Avila claimed that Jesus was with her for three years, but invisibly.

    I thought to myself, “Well, if I’m insane, I guess I’m insane in a way similar to Teresa of Avila and that’s not so bad.”

    In fact, the mystics, especially in the Catholic traditions had, it seemed to me, extremely bizarre interactions with God and yet they believed them fully. I realized that God does not always make human sense.

    Also, later, I began to realize that God bends down to us where we are, and that their interactions with Him were as much a product of who He was as who they were and their own era, their own religion. It was as though their own selves were the lens through which God suffered Himself to be seen, so there was some natural distortion of Himself.

    But He told me that He is not scared of this natural distortion- He is perfectly capable of translating the truth of who He is directly to people’s hearts, and He always does so at a personal level. He has told me that the way I understand Him is through the lens of who I am and how we speak and how we understand Him now, in this era.

    He said that I am a mirror- and because I am human, the mirror of my spirit is not perfect, but it does not have to be. I just have to be present with Him, keeping my eyes on Him and present in this life- He said, ‘You are to be present in this life, living out of faith, hope and love.” But He Himself works at the heart level that is deeper than words.

    I began to know Jesus on a very personal level. I had grown up hearing the language that “Jesus is your friend” but I didn’t really take that seriously, or indeed, know how to understand that, because I perceived Him as being far away, constantly judging, always disappointed and involved with more important things than myself.

    I began to know Him as someone full of patience, delight in the details, delighting simply in being together, full of good humor, generous, interested, gentle, perceptive, self-sacrificing.

    However, I could not understand why He spent so much time with me without making me some powerhouse of religious performance- it seemed as if He was getting very poor value back for His significant investment in my life.

    I continued to be the same person- eventually with less anxiety, less guilt and less religious bondage and with more joy, peace and tenderness- but still, basically the same person.

    So one day, I said to Him in complete frustration, “Why are You with me, if You aren’t making me perfect or perfectly productive?”

    And He answered, with just as much intensity, “To be with you.”

    And I had to laugh and put my head down on the desk in a combination of humorous wonder and frustration.

    I was walking with Him once, thinking about this verse that talks about the steps of a Godly person are ordained by God and that God delights in all the details of their life.

    I thought this was excessive on the part of God- that He should delight in all the details.

    “You must say that because eventually, all those details will be the praise of Your glory,” I said to Him.

    “And I love you,” Jesus pointed out, with His loving humor, as if to say, let’s not forget the main point here!

    After a year, my ego began to trip me up, thinking that I was somehow earning these experiences of God and then I did trip up physically and while healing, I let go of the entire idea of earning God.

    Then I let the experience go, for half a year. It was as if my spirit were a plot of ground that had produced a large harvest and God was letting it lie fallow for a season, to recharge and regroup.

    That is when I was learning that phrase: “Let God be God, let the world and other people be their selves; let you be you.”

    Then He returned, but deeper than before. My love for Him was deeper, I trusted Him more completely, I knew His voice very well. A great deal of both my anxiety and my pride were gone, leaving me open, present to Him and receptive.

    My experiences with Him began to become more visual. I had had a vision of a room once- corresponding to Jesus saying that in the Father’s house are many dwelling places.

    I was in the habit of resting in and talking to and worshiping Him at night, before I fell asleep. As I was doing this, I began to find myself in that room.

    This was disconcerting, at first, but by then, I had much more perspective on the mystery of the presence of God, so I was able to simply accept the experience. At first, the room was closed off, but as I became more confident and comfortable, the walls came down and it became more of a front porch.

    Almost every night I am with Him in those rooms, talking, or just being together, or caught up in mutual love- that is, I worship and adore Him and He loves me. He has a degree of vulnerability that is breath taking. He is filled with emotion- emotion flows naturally through Him.

    I don’t understand His emotion. He frequently is caught up in pain and grief over the pain and grief of this life. I don’t know if He feels this, at some level, continuously or how that works.

    But I increasing believe that He is waiting for completion- for the brokenness of this life to be healed, to wipe the tears from every eye. He seems to be hanging between now and that time, though of course, He dwells also outside of time and so He is in all times at once.

    But I know that this grief and pain sometimes moves through Him and He lets me comfort Him- though what comfort I can be to Him, I do not know. But He seems to long for this recognition of His emotional vulnerability and then He seems to delight in being responded to authentically. He doesn’t hold back, He gives Himself freely and completely.

    For me, the idea of the Trinity helps explain or put into context His way of giving and receiving. It seems that the very nature of God is to be in relationship to Himself- He is caught up in recognizing, adoring, having perfect faith in, yielding to and receiving Himself as one and as separate persons.

    I’m beginning to believe that we were created to join in this intimate dance, this waterwheel of love- and He is always coaxing us a little bit more into the loving relationship.

    I have felt myself caught up in such intimacy that it seemed as if I were melting into Him- as if He were one flame, and I was one small flame, and we were joined at the wick, where it’s white light and the heat melts and the two flames are swallowed into one.

    But I never completely lose the sense of myself as an individual life. Sometimes I actually want to- the pleasure is so great that I feel as if I wish to be completely enveloped into God.

    “You are my Life,” I have told Him. “We are one life.”

    “But you are your own little life spark,” He reminded me. This seemed to delight Him very much; He did not want me to forget it.

    It seems to me that the things that prevent people from moving toward this kind of intimate, personal giving and receiving with God, or even realizing this is possible, is their wrong image of Him- exactly what He has told you.

    People seem to be largely caught up in their religious fear of a God that is too huge, too unknowable, too far beyond reach and also in their personal feelings of guilt, shame.
    Also there is this idea that true delight is found outside of God- that God is all rules and tight self-control and rigid adherence to law, an idea that I can’t help think makes any other way of living, no matter how self-destructive, much more appealing.

    Or if they are like most mystics or spiritual seekers, they are seeking an impersonal oneness- the Life force, as it were. They wish to be absorbed into this; to lose consciousness of themselves.

    In any case, I think I am rambling now. I just wanted you to know that God seems to be taking us on very similar spiritual journeys- and many other people are also being caught up in this- through the emerging understanding of the Trinity, for example, and teachers like Richard Rohr.

    As always, I eagerly await each new chapter as you present it on your book and I am grateful for your continued obedience to the guidance of God in your life, even when He takes you way outside the comfort zone in such a public way. That is not easy.

    Your friend and sister in Divine Love,
    Jenny

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Jenny, judging from my own experience, what you write reaches to the heart
      of life with God, and of His life with us. “God bends down to where we
      are,” yes, and lets “our own selves” be “the lens” through which He lets
      Himself be seen. Just so. God relates us to “intimately, authentically, as
      two people do.” Yes, and that — relating to us — is, one might say, the
      essence of God, what God is. Not distant, not impersonal, not impervious,
      not the God of the textbooks, but a God who is so shockingly personal, that
      even a word like “vulnerable” is not out of place.

  19. Shelly Reply

    Hello, I really hope I can put this in words the correct way. When I was single with two little girls. I was at the end, the father was taking me to court over and over. I had run out of money. I had nowhere to turn, I went to a little church that I went to as a child. And prayed, pleaded, cried out to God in the parking lot please God don’t let them take my children they are so young they will not understand what is happening to them. The girls had never seen them. I went home that night and everyone was in their bed sleeping–the house was peaceful. I took a last look at my girls sleeping.:)

    I went to bed myself. That night as I was sleeping a voice came to me. This was a voice in my ear not in my head…It said nothing but (I hear you) It was the sound of rushing waters in a voice. I never understood until I read the Bible about the voice of rushing waters. When I did read this it made me smile. The girls do not have to see Him, the girls are happy. God took care of this. 🙂

    But later in my life, I came to God again in times of troubled hardship. I had just gotten out of a bad relationship. I went to God and prayed again, “Please God forgive me please. I want to hear you.” Again alone with my girls. That night while I was sleeping a sweet smell– such a sweet smell came in my room.The next day I found myself looking for this smell..anything that would come close. Later I got married to a wonderful man that loves the Lord. But that’s not all and we went to a small little church. I started to hear God even more and I kept praying for more understanding guidance. I would get this feeling from within and I would pray about things that needed to be prayed about and things to come. Never did this make me feel bad. I learned to pray when I would learn to pray when I would learn to pray when I would get these feelings.

    Later we moved. I guess the cares of the world got me. I started not to hear God. I STARTED TO WONDER WHAT I was doing wrong. I wanted to be back where I was at with our Lord. Later my Mother got sick with mersa. I prayed, I read the bible, believing God would heal. I feel as if I let her down, what did I DO WRONG did I not pray right, not enough faith, what did I do? It’s like He didn’t hear me. I still don’t feel like I’m hearing Him. I haven’t gone back to church I don’t know I can handle hearing about answered prayers…I miss hearing Him. But I’m also so hurt. I miss my mother also. Why don’t I HEAR GOD ANYMORE????

    Your Friend….Shelly

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Dear Shelly, you did not fail. Your mother’s death was not your fault, in
      any way, shape, or form. I know we sometimes imagine that, if we just pray
      hard enough, God will surely come through. But it doesn’t work like that.
      People are born, and people die. That is the way of things. Remember what
      God told you — “I hear you.” You don’t have to hear Him, He hears you.
      That’s what matters. The cherished assurance you received that night was
      not for one moment or one day or one week; it was for you to remember for
      the rest of your life and sing thanks.

      Jerry

      1. Shelly Reply

        Thank you so much…:) Shelly

  20. Bucky Whaley Reply

    I can see His back. He keeps it turned to me. He doesn’t speak, makes no sign I exist. I don’t like him.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Bucky, many people have times of feeling that God’s face is turned away,
      “hidden” as the Old Testament says. You do not have to feel God’s presence
      in order to pray. Just pray anyway, and tell God exactly how you feel. You
      can even shout and stamp! Remember also that sometimes, when people think
      that God is unavailable, they are the ones who are blocking the connection.
      Or it is there, but they are missing signals that may be faint and difficult
      to recognize. May God respond to your distress!

  21. Patricia Wright Reply

    I have heard God’s voice like a whisper. One day I was driving my car and was at a stop sign. The highway was in front of me. A truck hauling rock (not a pickup) had its signal on to turn on the road I was on. I didn’t see any other cars or trucks. I looked under the truck to see if I saw any sign of a car or truck and I didn’t. I started to press on the gas to turn left where the truck was turning in front of me when I heard “no”. I stopped. I still didn’t see anything and started to put my foot on the gas again. “No,” I heard. So again I didn’t go. Right then a car went past the truck that was turning on the highway in front of me. I had never seen the car before. If I had went when I started to go I would have been hit on my driver’s side door and probably killed. I was so shaken I called my husband and told him God saved my life.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Patricia, what a wonderful story! And a perfect example of what I mean by “paying attention.” Someone else might have dismissed the “no,” perhaps so automatically she didn’t even hear it. Instead, you let it guide you. When something unusual happens to me, I ask myself, is God trying to tell me something? Is there a message in this? That would be a good question for you to ask.

  22. Tamara Turner Reply

    I keep having a “feeling” that I need to get intouch with you somehow but don’t really know what to say because ALL my “friends” say that I am crazy and don’t know what I am talking about.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Tamara, thanks for acting on that feeling. Let’s not worry about your friends for now. What has prompted your sense that you need to get in touch with me? Just tell me your story. I will be very interested in hearing it.

  23. Patricia Wright Reply

    I believe in God. It’s the people in the church that let you down. I went to church for years and when I got sick no-one came to check on me. I had a brain enuryism and was in icu for 21 days. It took a long time to recover and remember things like cooking. Never did 1 person call or show up. I told my husband I wouldn’t go back to that church for they didn’t care about their members. That was 3 years ago.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Patricia, thanks for sharing that experience. Those must have been bleak, scary days for you and your husband! I hope you are now healthy and flourishing! It is a bitter irony, and surely a source of great suffering to God, when “religious” people fail so miserably to live up to their own standards. That leads some people turn against God, but these are failings of human beings, not of the divine. At some churches, love is more than a word. I hope you can find one in your area. Be well!

      1. Patricia Wright Reply

        I didn’t forsake God. I love him more than I did before. I am better,thank God. I did lose faith in the Church people. They pray and preach about helping people but not one person did. My husband had to do all the cooking, cleaning and taking care of our 32 year-old autistic son. It was hard on him trying to do the shopping and take care of me and everything. Hopefully one day I will find a church.

        1. Jerry L Martin Reply

          Patricia, it is a terrible thing when the church you counted on lets you down. You are right not to let that turn you against God. Faith in God is different from faith in a particular church. Many people cannot make the distinction. When they reject a church, they reject God. You did not make that mistake. Each congregation is different, and there are many that are loving, supportive communities. One of them is waiting for you!

  24. Renata van Gelderen Reply

    Your story is very interesting, Jerry. The one thing that especially struck me, is that love was the ‘trigger’ for your conversion, if I may put it that way. As it was in my case (I will receive baptism during the Easter Vigil at the end of April, Deo volente). According to the New Testament God is Love, so in that sense this should not come as a surprise! In my case, it was the dedication and surrender that I saw in the way Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Dominik Duka (on television!) that tipped me over the edge, so to speak. I could see the Cardinal’s love for Christ and somehow I trusted him and allowed myself to fall into the realm ‘that passes all understanding’. “Allowed myself” isn’t quite correct, of course, it just happened, with or without ‘my’ consent, I’m not quite sure, but I am in love with Jesus ever since, that’s for sure!
    For me, conversion is a 180˚ turn, starting from the position of a more or less autonomous individual who ‘has’ a life in a world, so from the position of ‘my’ life, ending up in Him: my life is His life. More and more I seem to realise what this actually means and although I experience an underlying happiness most of the time and there are many moments of great joy, it is also proving to be a bumpy road. Only recently I had an experience, probably best described as horror vacui. I had been restless all evening, couldn’t concentrate on anything and finally decided to listen to some music. As I sat in my armchair listening to violin pieces I seemed to calm down a bit, but suddenly I was overcome by great fear. Not fear of something, just fear and it was very intense. I grabbed the arms of my chair, but then realised that the physical world wasn’t going to give me any support. It was ludicrous to look for safety there and I knew it. I then folded my hands in prayer and asked God: is this You? From that moment onwards the fear became less intense, slowly a calmness came over me and finally I was able to say: Lord, I love You, I follow You. Phew. During all this time the violin was still playing on my stereo and it became very clear to me, that this sound could only be here through the grace of God. The sound of the violin was dancing on a knife’s edge, if it would move ever so slightly to one side, it would tip over and not exist. But it did exist! Wow, never before in my life was sound perceived as so precious, was anything perceived as so infinitely precious, just because it exists, because God chooses to hold it in His hands and doesn’t let go. Deo gratias.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Renata, your story is rich with meaning and insight. You trusted, you opened yourself, though it happened more to you than through you. That is what theologians call grace. Your life took a 180 degree turn, from the autonomous ego leaning on the physical world, to divine surrender, to living through God. And then the stark moment of fear, fear that your grip on the world was powerless against, fear that, against all expectations, drew you closer to God. On a knife’s edge, yes, but also dancing! An amazing and wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.

  25. Rick Lomax Reply

    How lucky you are to hear him, I have cried out to him in the night from the depth of my pain, and cannot. I continue to search as I always have, a pilgrim forever, and I know I am at a decision making point. I pray that guidance will be found in my attempts to overcome my inner and outer struggles.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Rick, I hear you, my friend.

      One thing we all have to keep in mind is that God does not solve all our problems. Financial problems have to be addressed financially, marital problems may call for counseling, personal problems may benefit from therapy, health problems from a doctor or better living, and so on. But God is with us in these struggles. He is by our side; He is ON our side. And He does provide guidance, usually not a voice as I have (which was needed since He wanted me to write this book), but subliminal hints that are hard to detect. There are three excellent books that can help you: How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley, The Art of Praying by Romano Guardini and Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard J. Foster.

      Meanwhile, may God give you the strength to go forward. Bless you!

      Jerry

    2. Thomas J. Moretti Reply

      Jesus Christ spoke to me through the Holy Spirit on December 17, 2011 after I begged him for mercy he showed up and we had a conversation for one night. I am so blessed because this does not happen all too often from what I understand? This is what it took for Jesus to win me over to him, I did not have this awesome experience because I am better than anyone else. I had this experience because God knew this was exactly what I needed 🙂

      Praise Jesus!

  26. Wayne Rumsby Reply

    I was born into a tight little Plymouth Brethren Gospel Hall, where Darby and his dispensational chart were taught as “God Breathed”. Some would say that it was what we were supposed to believe, or even that it was all there was to believe. I took my place at the Lord’s Table (entered into fellowship) late, in my twenties. By the time I was thirty my imagination made incompatible. I tried walking away. That only lasted a few years, and then I had my first God encounter. The short version is that after swearing never to go back to church, the need for daycare services found me standing in the lobby of a church feeling like I was in His hands. It was intense. I knew that God was guiding me. I was also pissed because he was calling me back into the church, the broken whore of a bride (Gomer).

    A few years later I had another turning point, calling moment. I was on the verge of bankruptcy, our business was sinking, I had to go get a job. It felt like utter failure. At the same time God called me to move my family downtown ( inner city). I tested that request, challenging God to get me a job downtown. He did, and a house. It’s true, I went from teetering on bankruptcy, to owning my first home, or at least some portion of the front porch, in partnership with the bank which owned the rest and my first born.

    With in a couple of years God called me out of full-time employment into full-time, faith supported, inner city mission work. That mission work quickly took shape around a thesis that work is a vital human need, not merely to pay the bills, but to discover who we are. The poor are robbed of this experience through minimum wage slavery. I raised funds and put together a woodworking shop so that folks from the street could come and experience the healing effect of crafting furniture. On one occasion one of the participants finished a beautiful hope chest made of cherry. He looked puzzled. When I asked why he said, “My Dad always told me I was a worthless piece of shit, this trunk seems to say otherwise.”

    Before long the money that flowed from the evangelical community began to dry up. There were many questions about the effectiveness of such a strategy. “How many people are getting saved?” they would ask. The only answer I had was, “All of them. They are all being saved. Me too.”

    That gig folded when the Executive Director declared that work that wasn’t profitable wasn’t meaningful, and by profitable he meant financial viable within the marketplace. I understood the financial pressure that drove this statement, but I also understood the complete failure of the church to understand the very basic human need for work. I still found it strange because our social programs (secular) provide supportive work opportunities for people with intellectual limitations. I toured one once and met the workers who expressed how much they loved their work. When I asked the manager what percentage of the revenue came from their efforts he told me, “only a third.” The other two thirds came from the tax payers.

    God then showed me a door that took me out west to work in Alberta. I took the step, hoping that this bigger organization, with it’s deeper pockets, would be more willing and able to develop a program of life skills development through a residential work program. In fact the program was up and running and just needed someone to take the helm. I won the position and went to work, only to find out that they too had a very narrow view of work. In fact their view of poverty was simply materialistic. Let’s get these people a job and a roof over their head, and we will have conquered homelessness. That program was folded, and I was offered a different position, but by then I was beginning to understand that the evangelical perspective views those poor people with such contempt that they mission was really to make them just like us. I opted out. I was also ushered out, by a phone call from my wife that my son’s long illness would snuff out his life that evening, and that I should fly home on the first available flight. I did, and he didn’t. Marky, my beloved special needs son, lived on by the thinnest of margins. Needless to say I knew my Alberta days were done.

    The next couple of months were hell, but even in the midst of it we could hear God calling us away. We sold our home in the city and wandered out to the country and bought a 7 acre piece of bush, with a river running through it. We knew without a moments hesitation that God wanted us to buy the place and establish a spiritual retreat for the poor. Today a year later we are barely hanging on to that vision. We’ve had no income for a year, our retirement savings are drying up, and our business plan of running a B&B for poor people has very limited revenue potential. These days I wake up in depression and doubt, and I fight my way into the light, using only my imagination. I imagine building a woodworking studio where together with our guest we will learn to transfer the beauty within us, into the wood that we fashion into useful, functional and wonderful art. I imagine, writers coming to write, musicians coming to push back the ugly and children and dogs dancing in the woods. I imagine the fellowship at the table, and the art of cooking, and the fire side chats, sharing stories that have been ignored for too long. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, holding onto this vision.

    One of the effects of burden of adversity is that it forces you to examine your payload. If I am to carry this vision what things will I have to let go of in order to pull it off. The examination process has quickly revealed that the burden, and often the barrier, is the religious constructs of our culture. It has been a ruthless process and lonely to boot. When you are hanging onto your dream in one hand and a bunch of stuff that you were just told was really important in the other–what then? I have listened to the atheists Hitch, Harris and some others (all really smart) and all they can say is that they don’t believe in anything they can’t prove. I wonder though, does not believing in God render him unreal? Does it matter if I can’t get my head around the inerrancy of the Bible, or the Flood, or Creation? Does what I think really have any impact on what is?

    I know I’m wandering off my theme of God calling, but the point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, or maybe all the time, God calls us to the very edge of our faith. He calls us way out past the comfort and safety of our denomination, it’s doctrines, and theological constructs. So now I find myself hanging on by a fingernail. The arguments of Harris and Hitchens, that bad theology leads to war and oppression, makes more sense than Darby’s brilliant explanation of God’s plan. It is dispensationalism that has America sending billions meddling in the Middle East in order to expedite the end of time. Today I am at the very edge of my faith, having set down all but the notion that the Designer knows and loves me (my last fingernail on the cliff) and still he calls me to that dream of helping people discover who he designed them to be.

    Great Designer have mercy on me.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Wayne, your spiritual journey is fascinating — and harrowing. You are
      coping with two issues that face us all, discernment and action.
      Discernment is difficult because divine prompts are always in the midst of a
      cloud of motives, and it is not easy to sort them out. You have had to face
      that challenge at every step of the way. Then there are all the practical
      problems. Life is lived on the ground. Reality is obstinate. God will be
      our partner, but we have to do the heavy lifting. We cannot jump off cliffs
      and expect God to save us. Even Jesus, when challenged by Satan, refused
      such a test. All the best to you, my friend.

      Jerry

  27. Hayden Reply

    Just wanted to say that this is a great site. Admittedly, the only reason I can believe what I read in your writings is that you were an agnostic when you first heard God’s voice. The fact that you are clearly an intelligent man doesn’t hurt either. As for my experience with God, I have never heard His voice, felt his presence, or anything like that. That being said, by speaking with others and hearing about things quite clearly supernatural, I am more or less convinced that He is there. There are always those annoying, nagging doubts, though, telling me that I am wrong and that none of it is true. I am a philosophy student myself, and naturally look to arguments for His existence to confirm my beliefs. While I find some arguments convincing, it’s hard to accept them when, as you say, they get shot down in Philosophy 101. I find this site encouraging, but at the same time wonder if you’re not mistaken. I am not questioning your sincerity, and I’m sure if something like this were to happen to me I would be completely persuaded as well. I guess my comment can be tied up in a simple, sincere question: Is this for real?

    Thank you very much for the website and good luck with the rest of the book.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Hayden, this is a really good, solid, right-to-the-heart-of-the-matter comment: Is this for real? Well, yes, it is. Which is not to say that it is obvious that it is the real deal, or comes wrapped in a cloak of infallibility or anything like that. It is more like believing what you see with your own eyes, when there is no compelling reason not to believe it. After all, there could be a God, and God could communicate these things to a guy like me. Why would anybody deny that? Only if they are dead set against believing in God. Then they tilt the scale with a heavy thumb, always putting the burden of proof on the believer — as if eyewitnesses had to demonstrate deductively that they saw what they saw. Why shouldn’t the burden of proof fall the other way? Why should I and thousands or millions like me discount our experiences of divine presence? Or maybe neither side has the burden of proof. As William James puts it, you have two options, both reasonable, one of which is open to faith, the other closed.

      As I see it, if you are open, you might find something; if you are closed, you never will, even if it is there.

      Best,
      Jerry

  28. Joseph David Thomas Reply

    Hi Jerry,

    Blessing enough will have to do for now. Nothing has happened since our last correspondence. Thank you for your kind words. I still feel fear on my side. Thankfully, firm has not morphed into force. Don’t know the source of my fear. It seems primitive and pre-verbal. Maybe something to do with unresolved issues from a childhood growing up under the abusive excesses of an alcoholic father. Whatever it is, I can’t seem to shake the sense of fear, even with my most rational, intellectual approaches. Oh well, I will just let it go for now. If He has the interest to call me by name, He has the ability to reach me without further violation to my sensitivities. How this happens noetically, I humbly leave up to God.

    Best always,

    Joe

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Joe, thanks for sharing your current situation with me. You cannot wave a wand and make your fear go away. It looks as if you will have to just live with that a while. God is already there for you. It doesn’t have to be a voice. You have to remain attentive, but it doesn’t help to eagerly look around for signs of God’s presence or love or guidance. About all you can do is to remain open to grace. One exercise might help — it has helped me with fear in particular — and that is “bracketing.” As an exercise, just imagine: what if I didn’t feel fear, how would the world look different? Joe, you are in my heart and in my prayers.

  29. Jenny Reply

    Dr. Martin, I am continually drawn back to your book. When I read it, I feel a sense of relief and recognition.

    Even though you have invited me to share my experiences here, as always, I find myself doubting whether they could be of any use to you or your other readers, as God is such a personal God and each person hears Him and grows in Him in their own way and in their own time. I frequently have to remind myself that we are all in community for a good reason.

    My experiences of God are often unconventional in terms of traditional Christianity and its doctrines, and yet they are centered around Jesus Christ, both as a fully human, historical man, and as God and Messiah.

    This leaves me somewhere in a no man’s land, or perhaps somewhere in the emerging church, as it is sometimes called.

    I think this is why I find myself relating to your story.

    I first experienced the presence of God when I was a young teen. It was around the same time that I first learned to do what Monsignor Guardini recommends, to “remain calm and trust in God. One should submit to His will and pray for enlightenment.”

    This last autumn, when I began more recently to experience the presence of God, I recognized Him instinctively both from those earlier experiences and also in a way that I cannot explain.

    However, He was so much with me, and so willing to speak with me, that I actually first believed that maybe I was going to die, and that Jesus was with me in order to prepare me for the transition.

    I had no other way to explain why I could feel Him so present, or hear His voice so clearly. For several weeks, I did not admit this fear even to Him. I chided myself for being morbid.

    Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. On day I was walking with Him in the park and the question just burst out of me.

    “Am I going to die?” I asked Him.

    I am come that you might have life, and that more abundantly, He replied.

    I could hear (in a manner of speaking) the twinkle in His eye as He reminded me of His own words. It made me laugh. I thought that was very like Him to answer a specific question with an overarching principle.

    As an aside, I relate so much to your experience of pressing Him for answers with both trepidation and hope, and sometimes receiving an answer that shakes one’s faith for a little while- that expands one’s understanding in a way that is uncomfortable at first.

    “Then why are You with me like this?” I asked Him, urgently. “What do you want from me?”

    You’re Mine and I want you with Me, He replied.

    “With” wasn’t exactly the word with that He used; it was more like a concept that contained the meaning of “with”, but also “close to” and “within,” all at the same time.

    This answer stunned me. I remember exactly where I was in the park and the scenery that I was looking at when I heard these words in my spirit.
    To be honest, I still wrestle with this concept, but it is one that He has repeated, and I have learned to surrender myself to it more and more deeply.

    I think these two answers reveal something very close to the heart of God: that He brings forth abundant life and that He created us for and desires intimate and authentic relationship- communion.

    Thank you again for sharing your story; I look forward to reading the rest of the chapters in your book.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Jenny, please lay aside your worries here. Of course, it is valuable to share your thoughts and experiences with us! And no one here should worry about whether they are conventional or not vis-a-vis regard to this or that religious tradition or doctrine. That is not what we are about here. You are telling a spiritually authentic story. That’s what matters.

      Several things in your story struck me. First, you recognized God’s presence because of an earlier experience and also “in a way I cannot explain.” Recognizing God’s presence or guidance or love is often so subtle that you can’t even say exactly how you knew it. Sometimes you just do. Second, you were honest with God, not at first but eventually, about your worry that you were going to die. That is exactly the way you have to relate to God. You’ve just got to lay it out, whatever you think or feel or do. You have to relate with full-frontal honesty. Finally, when you ask, “What do you want from me?”, the answer is surprisingly simple, I want you with/close to/within Me. Sometimes God wants us to do something specific, even something quite difficult, but the context even of that is what you call “intimate and authentic relationship-communion.” It is good to have you as a companion on this journey.

  30. Joseph David Thomas Reply

    HI Jerry,

    I found you through Jessica Cortes’ Maven Profile. Jessica is an amazing talent, incandescently beautiful, and spiritually connected in a most authentic manner. You can view her profile at: https://www.maven.co/maven/190562

    I only had that experience once of what I call God’s voice speaking to me in my inner ear. It was the most uncanny experience of my life. I simply heard an inner voice gently but firmly call my name, “Joe”. I can’t get away from the impression it has made on me. But instead of being open and pure to the experience like you, I have been hiding and trying to cover my ears with mental fig leaves. I haven’t answered that inner voice yet–too afraid, too burdened with my own sense of unworthiness and impureness.

    I have only read chapter one so far, so I don’t want to comment overly much at this stage. I applaud your readers above who have commented with such sensitivity and intelligence.

    Your experience reminds me of C.S. Lewis and his life-changing encounter with Joy.

    Best always,

    Joe

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Hi Joe,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. That moment may be the most important event in your life.

      I would make several suggestions. First, you should reenact the voice imaginatively, explore it, try to discern its meaning. “Gently but firmly” calling your name, “Joe,” could be an expression of love, or a call to service, or a warning, or a reminder of who you are, or … well, only you can explore this. Second, as you already know, you should try to open yourself to the experience. Relish it, try to live in terms of it. We are all unworthy, impure – that has nothing to do with your relation to God. In the course of my prayers, I was told, “In a sense, it is only sinners I love.” I have also been told not to “wallow in guilt” – that just distances you from God. Third, this may be the only time God will have occasion to communicate with you orally.

      Having God speak to you is not a goal; if someone does not hear the divine voice, that is not a failure. The only requirement is that you listen, and take it to heart, when God does have occasion to speak – or to communicate with you in some other way. If you pray, you may well get an inner sense of what God wants you to do. Pay attention to signs, such as significant coincidences, what Jung called synchronicities, or God’s putting people, opportunities, and problems in your path. Right now the one thing you know is that God has taken an interest in you. That is blessing enough.

      Best,
      Jerry

  31. Don Hogg Reply

    Jerry,

    God is speaking to you and you need to listen carefully and attentively. I know God answers prayer, not always immediately or verbally, but in some way or another.

    Years ago I was doing a project for our church and needed some help that my wife who was with me could not provide so as we sat for lunch I prayed a specific prayer for the help I needed. Within 20 minutes God sent a man who asked me if I needed help with a specific project. I answered him with an affirmative, he helped me with the project. He had no way of knowing I needed this help had he not been sent by God. After we completed this project I thanked him and he walked away. I had never seen this person before and have never seen him again.

    Good luck on finishing the book.

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