Gina shares an incredible experience of seeing the world radiate with God’s presence and love. Bernadette and her husband are suffering through tragedy when she receives signs that feel like an answer from God.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin, author of the true story and reporter of his communication with God, and host Scott Langdon discuss two letters from readers and listeners.
These unique letters of relatable experiences are within the theme of spiritual openness and finding God- in whatever way God may come to you.
This conversation takes us outside tradition and opens the mind to spirituality beyond religion. Is God trying to get your attention?
What is your story? We want to hear from you!
-Share your story or experience with God-
BUY THE BOOK- God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher
LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- [What's On Your Mind] Fear | Articulating A Relationship With God | Does God Exist | Encountering Divine Silence
WATCH- Why is God Hiding?
READ- Listen To Me Even When I Whisper (godanautobiography.com)
God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, is written by Dr. Jerry L. Martin, an agnostic philosopher who heard the voice of God and recorded their conversations.
The podcast began with the Dramatic Adaptation of the book and now has several series:
#whatsonyourmind, #godanautobiography, #experiencegod
Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 125.
Scott Langdon [00:01:19] Hello and welcome to episode 125 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon. And today we bring you our latest edition of What's On Your Mind. In this series, Jerry and I discuss emails we receive here at the podcast from listeners and readers of Jerry's book, God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of Jerry's book by listening to episode one of this podcast and continuing through its conclusion in episode 44. Today, though, we again ask the question, What's on your mind? I hope you enjoy the episode. Welcome, everyone, to another edition of What's On Your Minds. This is the 14th time we're sitting down to do this, and I'm sitting across the screen here from Jerry Martin. Jerry. Glad to see you today.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:13] Well, glad to see you, Scott. And glad to have these interesting email communications from readers and it strikes me in these particular ones that, you know, we all have low points and we have high points in our lives, and sometimes you learn more from the low points. I think we see some of that here in these messages from readers.
Scott Langdon [00:02:37] Readers and listeners. And if you're either one or both of those, of course you can always write into us at email@example.com. Each one of them is an experience that results from being open to a place of listening, to being open to, you know, paying attention. And we've noticed that in most of these experiential emails that we receive, there is that desire to know what direction to go in, that longing and asking for God for help, for God to show God's self, and then an openness to hear and receive an answer, whatever that might be, whether it's through the council of someone else, maybe it's through something in the environment, like a gorgeous sunset or something that you've become present to, but all of these experiences seem to have those things in common, and that's really common to your experience initially, having the desire to just be thankful and pray and then being open to, oh, there's an experience and what is it?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:44] Yeah, the openness is almost the first question that God can come to anybody. They can be a drunk with their face in the gutter and God can come to them. But it really helps if you're open and looking for signs and open when they come. And then most of the people that write in, occasionally they're people just shocked by an experience, but they're mostly people who were open and then it came- an experience that you might say changed their lives or changed their lives at that point.
Scott Langdon [00:04:17] What we do, if you're a first time listener to a What's On Your Mind episode here, what we do is we have folks that have written into us and Jerry has responded, had responded via the email as they came in. But what we do here is we go through the story because the story is just always so rich and exciting to listen to and break down. And then we'll hear from Jerry, your response.
Scott Langdon [00:04:42] So let's start out with Gina today. Gina writes in with a couple of different experiences actually, and we'll focus on one today and perhaps come back to some of the others in a different episode. But today Gina writes this:.
Gina [00:04:57] I’ve had multiple experiences with God. Two experiences that are so amazing that words can’t do them justice. I am 35 years old and I grew up in an atheist household. I asked God to be part of my life when I was nine years old. I didn’t have the best upbringing and I was alone. God hasn’t let me down since. I’m going to start with the experience I had yesterday.. my husband and I had an argument though we never argue or fight. I was crying so hard sitting on the sofa I remember saying I feel so alone and have no one to talk to. Then I heard a voice it said “You're not alone you have God”. The voice was so loud and clear it made me jump up. I know this sounds like it can’t be real but it really happened and I have to tell someone. The voice told me to look outside.. mind you right now it’s October in NY and it’s dark until about 8 in the morning, this was around 6:45 AM. I remember it being dark outside because I had let the dog out. I looked out the back window and the sky was lit up a yellow bright almost lime green light! It was so bright like a glowing! Something said, "Go outside. Experience this." I looked at my deck and the wood looked dry it was so bright. I sat in the patio chair… the air, clouds everything was glowing… the bumblebee bees were in slow motion while I was watching them. I felt how beautiful they were. I looked up and there was a double half rainbow it seemed in perfect position. I knew I was in God’s presence. I thought about getting up to get my phone and take a picture but I heard God and he told me not to move, he said, "Experience this for it will only last a minute." I stayed I felt God all around me. He was with me. The sky went back to normal I walked back to the house it fell dark and my deck was soaking wet. That just happened yesterday.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:23] Yeah, isn't that amazing? That's an extraordinary story. And yet that can happen to any of us at certain moments when that is how God, you might say, chooses to come to us. But here's what I replied to Gina at the time.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:43] Your remarkable experiences are full of spiritual lessons. The fact that you turned to God when you were only nine years ago shows an openness of soul. Then God tells you ( at a crucial moment after an argument with the husband), God tells you, “you are not alone” — that is the most important lesson of all. If we turn our hearts toward the divine (sometimes even if we don’t), God is there for us. You then experienced God’s radiant presence. You were told not to move. The divine presence is not there to be documented but for you to take in, and let the moment be sufficient unto itself. You need to remember that moment and let it inform the rest of your life.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:08:45] I thought that this was remarkable. And this point I'm making to Gina at the end reminded me I may have said this on one of our previous programs, but by now everyone will have forgotten it, so I'll repeat it. Vivid for me that Doris Grumbuach. was a wonderful writer, did a lot of book reviews, and something I subscribed to and a memoir writes about how one day in the bathtub of all places, but God, you know, these things can happen anywhere, in the bathtub she had a mystical experience and just felt enveloped by divine love. And it lasted some minutes, some time. And then as the memoir goes on, she says she tried repeatedly to have that experience again. And I remember thinking, "Oh, Doris, Doris, it wasn't there for you to go on and have it again and again and again and again, like apple pie or something." It was there to inform your life. God disclosed something to you. A fundamental aspect of reality. God's enveloping love. And that should be enough, you know, that you should take in and know whether you're feeling up or down that day that you may not have that bathtub mystical experience but you now know that God's enveloping love is present. And Gina now knows from her very dramatic experience how God's radiant love surrounds Gina. And Gina can go on with letting that inform life. Now, Gina has not made the mistake that I felt Doris made, but I just think it bears repeating because it's a tendency of people to think, “Well, there was that great moment, now I want more great moments." But that's not the point of God's communication. And so when you have it and don't just brush it under the rug or "oh funny thing happened to me, you know, last week, I have this one moment." No, don't don't put it in the mental attic, but nourish it, you know, take it to heart and let it inform your life and live in terms of what this one experience tells you. Anyway, those were among the things that subsequently I was thinking about as I read this, Scott.
Scott Langdon [00:11:11] Yeah, and Gina has a really interesting beginning to this story as well, that she was-- she grew up in an atheist household and yet asked God to be a part of her life at nine years old. And when I reflect on my life, I think about when I was, you know, the eight year old boy in the Lutheran church singing in the choir. The stories that I've talked about before and how I continue to come back to that time as a place of beginning in terms of my awareness of something more than me. And to have her go back to that sort of single digit age number to begin with is, to me, I can identify with her because I've had a similar travel, not that I had an atheist household, far be it. But just this idea of recognizing early on that there is something I want to be open to and something that I, (a) I feel alone, but I also know what it means to not feel alone. Because how can one feel alone if you don't know what it feels like to not be alone? So there's a place where you know what it feels like to not be alone, and you seek that comfort. And one of the things that is difficult sometimes is getting that-- getting the experience and thinking that I can get it from the experience itself. But it's not about the experience. I think when God says, don't take a picture of this, don't try to document it, and you rightly say it's not about documenting, because everything other than the moment that you're in is a story about that moment. It's either a reflection, you know, or it's something that you're looking forward to in the future. But God is saying, "Any time you're commenting on the moment you're missing the moment, any time you're looking for me, when you're looking for me, you're not finding me. I'm here." So in a sense, it is a duplicate-able thing to become present in the moment and recognize what I have to do. What do I have to do? When we get caught up in the What do I have to do we lose what God is saying. Just pay attention.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:13:21] Yes. And often, you know, I always talk about get the clutter out of the way. You know, you have some time in your day that you're not running around doing stuff or worrying over things or collecting memories or something. But you're just at peace with yourself. I think somewhere in God: An Autobiography, God sighs, "There are times for just being," you know, So sometimes just be and don't say, "Oh God, now speak to me or God do this or that." But no, just be. And if you do that, you'll probably often kind of feel at peace with God. But even if God doesn't enter the picture, nothing larger than yourself enters the picture, that's a healthy thing for the soul. And that's keeping the soul open, and you might say clean enough, so that stuff can come in without hitting debris on the way that whatever thoughts or ideas, messages from outside, it can come in because you've got a quiet mind.
Scott Langdon [00:15:19] We've talked in the previous few episodes and we've talked a lot in recent episodes even about the idea of suffering and how difficult that is and how God says to you, suffering is as real as people who turn against God think that it is. You know, turn against God because of the suffering think it is. That's- it's real serious stuff.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:44] It's really bad.
Scott Langdon [00:15:45] It's really bad. You know, it's the serious stuff about the world. And often when we feel the most alone or we feel the most suffering, that is when the yearning for connection to God can be the most ripe and ready. And it's often the time when we want to cry out and call out, even if it's, "Where are you, God?" Or, you know, someplace. We feel that separation in our suffering. And so often it seems in a lot of these stories and that we get from emails and a lot of experiences in my own life, I see how God seems to be offering extra special ways of presenting God's self to us in the midst of suffering. And it's not always a big bright light and the starry sky and everything, like a magical kind of deal. But when we call out to God in our suffering, my experience and my evaluation of others experiences is that God does whatever God can to break through to us. Whether it's some kind of magical thing on the horizon or if it's a stranger coming up and offering advice, or as in the last episode that we did of somebody he needed to use a phone and so this divine stranger offered a phone. And it's often about what we make these experiences mean. So when we have and when we want to attempt to communicate with someone, we have an intention and then they make it mean what it means. And we hope that that lines up- my intention and what you make it mean, and we hope it's the same thing. And I feel like God does that as well. God saying, "I'm here, I'm here, I'm here." And yet we're not making some of these experiences mean that. We kind of- we can miss them or we can brush them off, or we can say about those experiences, "Here is what it means," and make a meaning to it and actually miss the simpleness of God. Just saying, "You're not alone. I'm with you no matter what." We can miss these signs, if you will.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:17:57] Yeah. It's one of the things in God: An Autobiography, an experience of mine. I guess my earliest. Because Abigail, my wife, would ask, "Did you ever have any dramatic, you know, divine experiences before?" And I first said, "No." And then I remembered an experience when I was quite young of encountering in a funny way, a funny moment, a moment of stillness, a drop of water. And seeing it as I later, you know, I had no vocabulary, and it was just a moment where I am that drop of water, you know, sort of stood still, you might say. And I later found ways to articulate that. Martin Buber, "Say vow to nature," you know, just kind of encountering it as an independent entity in the community of everything that exists. That it had its own integrity in that community. So that was one of those moments where, as you say, Scott, I then had to interpret it. I did not have vocabulary when I was a kid, but then later I came across things like saying a vow to nature, and Kant's Kingdom of Ends where you treat things not just means to your own will, but as ends in themselves. As having their own dignity and right to respect, you might say. And oddly enough, that drop of water. And then of course, when I prayed about it, God said "I was in the drop of water. I was in the drop." Then that-- it never occurred to me prior to my experience with the Divine Voice, but when I prayed about it at that time God was in the drop of water and He said, "Why not? Where? Where else would I be?".
Scott Langdon [00:19:38] Right.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:19:38] You know where. The pervasive nature of the divine. God's everywhere. So, don't assume God is absent. Don't assume God is absent because God is present in some form or other.
Scott Langdon [00:19:52] Right. Not that the water, not that that drop of water was God in the sense that it was God and something else is not God. But that the essence encapsulated in that particularity. I think that even in that chapter, you know, it goes on to sort of other experiences, point toward this idea of the particularity.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:20:15] Yes.
Scott Langdon [00:20:15] You know, of a thing. Bernadette writes into us with an experience that she had, and it also comes out of a difficult time for her and her husband. She writes this:.
Bernadette [00:20:29] My husband and I are going through a difficult time at the moment. We went through the physical and emotional difficulties of a miscarriage, I was nearly admitted and I was bleeding so heavily. Three days later, the baby was still there on a scan confusing ourselves and the midwife. We are awaiting a scan in two weeks to see if the baby is still there. Today, I set up an alter of spiritual items I had gathered and prayed a lot. I asked for a sign that everything would be okay for us. You may not believe me, but my small bible fell off the table and into my lap. It was inexplicable how it happened. Seconds later, my husband phoned me from work (never happens as he can’t use his phone in his work) as he just felt the need to call. I believe that this was a sign.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:21:27] Now, that is a remarkable, remarkable experience. And I know in my pre God experience days, I would have thought, well, coincidence. The Bible falls off who knows how. And simultaneously, you might say, the husband calls, which he never does. And coincidence. Coincidence. But it's-- I think-- it's important in life to stop and think, "Well, wait a minute, wait a minute. Maybe this is telling us something." So you have to connect the dots. Otherwise, you're going to have no meaning unless you connect the dots. Well, how to connect the dots becomes the problem. And anyway, at the time, I wrote back to Bernadette:.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:22:10] What an ordeal. I mean, Bernadette is going through the apparent loss of a child she'd been nurturing for nine months. Then maybe not lost. And now we're waiting to see. Maybe we have, you know, we're going to have a baby that we can give birth to and have a child. And then, of course, I say back to Bernadette at the time: what a dramatic experience, a small Bible falling right into your lap after you asked for a sign. I dearly hope that everything did work out well. She did not let us know after. I hope that means it was good news and she forgot all about, you know, writing in. But I do caution her or all of us a little bit. There's nothing wrong with what she did, but it's hard to interpret signs. The sign might mean that the baby would be fine, or it might just be a divine reminder that God will be by your side and on your side throughout the struggle. And it occurred to me later it could be guidance to read the Bible. You know, maybe there's something, look in the Bible, see if there's something there for you, you know? I don't know. That's the problem of reading signs. Or as I suggest, it might just mean that in some larger sense, everything will be well. So whatever, you know, the baby comes, that your life will go on or, you know, and smile on you in many ways. And so don't regard this as the, you might say, the tragedy that does in the meaning of your life. Anyway, to go on with what I wrote to her at the time. I'd say you're living in a divinely oriented, openhearted way. God is your partner in that. And that, again, is the basic key. You don't know what's going to happen or what's a communication. It's hard to read the signs. But if you are living in a Godward way, in an open hearted way, taking in, pay attention, as we often say, but that open hearted way so that God can get in. In whatever way God chooses to get in. At whatever moments and in whatever form, then you're doing the right thing. And God is your partner in doing that.
Dr Jerry L. Martin [00:25:09] People often write me. I hear from them saying, "Why did you get to hear the voice of God? I have prayed, you know, done everything I can think. Pray, pray, pray. You were not even a believer. And God speaks to you. And I am a believer. And I've tried, try, try, prayed on everything to open to hear God. And I don't hear God." And I write back. Well, look, you don't determine how God comes to you. God may be coming to you in a dozen other ways and you're not noticing them because you're intent on it being a voice. Well, I worry here a little bit. You know, God communicates in God's own way. We don't control God's communication. And there's a little bit of a feeling here, it's totally understandable, humanly, this is a desperate situation, after all. But, "Lord, send me a sign, not just a sign of Your presence, but a sign that things will be well." And that's trying to write God's side of the conversation as well as your own. And it's better just to, "God be with me. God be with me on this." And then let God be with you however God is going to be with you and send whatever signs or non signs God chooses and then to interpret them in a kind of open minded way. Not saying, "Oh, this is an answer to my request for a sign, period," but "Huh, this is a divine sign of some sort. Let me take that in." God is certainly present. God is responding to me by having that Bible drop right into my lap and giving my husband the sense that I've got to call her even though it's not permitted to use the phone. I've got to call her right now. Okay. God's paying 100% attention to you, Bernadette. And just take that to heart. And that's a lot. That is a lot. To know that, God, you are 100% on God's radar screen in this extraordinarily difficult moment.
Scott Langdon [00:27:34] Thank you for listening to God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted, God: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher, available now at amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.