In this enlightening episode of "God: An Autobiography, The Podcast," host Scott Langdon and Dr. Jerry L. Martin explore love- from a spiritual perspective- and an inspiring email from Jenny. Jenny shares her profound experience with God and the transformative journey of discovering an intimate connection with the divine.
Join Scott and Jerry as they discuss Jenny's exploration of her relationship with God, the evolving understanding of Jesus as a personal presence, and the liberating realization that we need not earn God's love-it is a pure and unconditional gift.
Tune in for a thought-provoking conversation that explores the depths of spirituality, the beauty of love, and the divine embrace that transcends human understanding. Open your heart to the wonders of an authentic spiritual connection and the joy of being truly loved by God.
Keywords: spirituality, intimate connection, divine love, spiritual journey, understanding God, Christian mysticism, faith, hope, love, religious experience, Shekinah cloud, talking with God
Hashtags: #whatsonyourmind #godanautobiography #experiencegod
Would you like to be featured on the show or have questions about spirituality or divine communication? Share your story or experience with God! We'd love to hear from you! 🎙️
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 145.
Scott Langdon [00:01:08] Welcome to God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon, and today Jerry and I go back to the email bag for this 18th edition of our series: What's on Your Mind? This week we hear part one of an email we've received as part of an ongoing correspondence with Jenny about her experience with God. Jenny's clear, articulate and heartwarming emails are always a pleasure to share, and this one is no different. It's always such an honor for us to be able to share the experiences with God that come into us here at the podcast. And we'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share your story of God or ask a question, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here now is What's on Your Mind. Welcome back, everybody. This is What's on Your Mind. I'm Scott Langdon, and as always, I'm joined by Jerry Martin. How are you doing today, Jerry?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:11] Well, doing great and even greater after reading again this first message from Jenny, because it is a gem.
Scott Langdon [00:02:19] It really is. She dives deep into her experience. And that's really you know, we're looking for experiences, great or small. You know, if you have an experience of God or want to ask a question or talk about that at all, why don't you give us an email? You can do that by just emailing us at email@example.com. And we'd love to share your email on What's on Your Mind. Maybe a future episode if you'd like, and we just love hearing your experiences about God. Jenny writes in, and here's what she says.
Letter From Jenny [00:02:54] Your latest chapter has filled me with wonder and recognition. I've 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. 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. Then His presence became more 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 had extremely bizarre interactions with God and yet they believed them fully. God does not always make human sense. I began to realize that God bends down to us where we are, and the interactions with Him reflected as much who He was as who they were and their own era. 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, living out of faith, hope and love. He Himself works at the heart level that is deeper than words.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:08] Now, Isn't that an amazing set of reflections, Scott? If I had to pick out one phrase from the whole, this rich communication, it would be like right in the middle of what she says. She says she came to realize, God bends down to us where we are. And that's certainly my experience. Does that make sense to you, Scott? You know, it just seems some people are way high up. They may be at a monastery and praying all the day and God reaches to them. That may have been the story of Saint Teresa. She may have been, I suspect she might have been a nun or in some place a religious order, God reaches her. But you can be drunk with your face in the gutter. God can reach you there. And anyway, in my experience, I was going along in life an agnostic, happy. No God questions at all. And oh! Let's talk to Jerry. I don't know. Does that make sense to you, Scott?
Scott Langdon [00:06:10] It does. And I'm really excited about how she talks about the idea of getting to know God, in a sense, was a progressive kind of thing for her. And it was sort of an unfolding. I like that idea because it's a similar type of situation that I've had. You know, we've talked before about when I was really young, eight years old, you know, having the experience of just knowing that God existed, just singing in the choir at my grandparents church and just being in nature, just not even questioning the idea, because I didn't know that there was such a question. And then, you know, you grow up and you grow through your teenage years, and you're a young adult and you start to question- all of the natural things that happen. But very similar to Jenny's account, the more you sort of seek, the more the unfolding sort of happens. At first it's sort of a presence, she felt like, and then the presence became almost palpable, like a person, but not visible. And then this desire to sort of seek out what-- well, who else would feel this way? And so when she looks up the Christian mystics, because that's sort of out of her tradition of things, and so she looks there first, and then sort of God reveals Godself through, oh, here's Teresa of Avila and so forth. And I find that that's happened to me in a similar way, just in terms of the unfolding. And I feel like her story is very, very similar to yours in that same way too where God continues to ask you to seek. And the more you say, okay, well, what do you want me to do, and where should I look? God always leads you someplace deeper.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:00] Yeah, there's something I didn't really focus on the first time I read it, but I did as I heard you read it, Scott. That this is what God has been doing in these past two years, she says. And I guess beginning with the cloud-- the Shekinah Cloud of presence. So that's a very more amorphous sense of divine presence. But this is just the last two years. Presumably there are stages in her spiritual development that brought her to this point, that made her maybe available or open to this- to the cloud of presence. And then, as you say, Scott, it goes on from there to a sense that's so personal and intimate that she thinks she might be insane. You know, it just seems, you know, she just can barely believe it. What is this? God is so intimately personal, He wants to relate to me, Jenny, in this person to person way? And then, well, Teresa of Avila had had Jesus living with her for three years. Wow. Well, that sounds pretty crazy. But she said, well, if I'm insane, I'm insane in good company. Right? Okay, we'll be insane together, me and Saint Teresa. And that's- there's an important point there, because often you get confirmation from the other people. And here's the confirmation from Saint Teresa. And okay, well, this isn't crazy. This is one of the types of religious experience. And she starts then clearly accepting it more. And she says, God does not always make human sense. And that's right in the Old Testament, His ways are not our ways. You know, so it's very hard for us to understand the whole divine order you might say, and what God is like. And it's not that God is beyond all reach. It's that it's hard to understand the ways in which God is within reach and is available and around us and interested in us. And she kind of wrestles with that as she goes along. You know why is God interested in me? You know, I'm not a spiritual powerhouse, you know?
Scott Langdon [00:10:30] Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:31] Isn't this a kind of poor-- God's giving me a lot of time, isn't it a kind of getting a poor return on His investment? You know, that kind of right thing. And how could God spend God's time this way?
Scott Langdon [00:10:44] Yeah. Yeah. It's an interesting question, and it's really interesting the way she brings it up. The thing that struck me straight away with this is that when she starts off the email, she says, "Your latest chapter filled me with wonder and recognition." And it was because she realizes, Hey, I've received this same revelation that Jerry Martin has, (you know, the same kind of thing) which is that He longs to be related to intimately, authentically, as two people do. And, you know, we do this podcast and we continue to do this podcast, even though we've already done the audio adaptation of your book. And your book is out there and it's finished. And anyone who wants to read it, you know, if you go to godanautobiography.com, go to Amazon, order the book, read the whole thing or listen to the podcast the first 44 episodes to get the audio adaptation. But we keep talking about it, and one of the reasons that we keep talking about it is that it's not enough for God to just say, Hey, here's what I was up to so that you can have all the facts folks about what I was up to in world religions. That's not enough to just have sort of the facts of things and have a right, here's the final etched in stone revelation of what God was up to in world religions. It's not about that. There is that aspect and then it is, well, how do we live our lives? How do we take this information that God wants to be related to intimately, authentically, as two people do? And God says to you, "I'm so much more than a person, don't think I'm just a guy in fact," He says. Right? But He says, I am a person. I relate to you on a personal level. And that was so dramatically revealing to me as well, because my whole upbringing with God was this idea that God was distant, other. A lot of the things that God bemoans being seen only as. When God feels like God is being seen only as distant and other and too much and too far off and too up there, and we're down here. God evidently really bemoans that, He really-- that pains God because God really wants to be known as intimate and authentic and with you always.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:21] God complains that that kind of often comes from the theologians, the high theologians that make God so, you know, God is creator. We are created. Therefore, God is totally different from us. You know, so we're way, way, way down here just made of mud or something. God is way, way, way beyond the stratosphere. And God is so infinite in all dimensions that we can't even think of what they are. You know, God is just beyond all comprehension. And God tells me that is frustrating because it interferes with God's ability to actually relate to us one on one in a loving way. And Jenny experiences part of that love that is central to the experience. And another thing in that very discussion of hers that I think is very important, the way I understand God is through the lens of who I am. And that's what God has told her, "You are My lens." Or she uses the image a mirror. And I was told at some point, "You are My instrument." Sort of like a pen or paintbrush. You are my instrument and the instrument, obviously somewhat distorts if you're a lens, you know, it's not a perfect lens. Things are refracted through the lens or through the mirror. But then it's a wonderful further statement about that. First, it's affirming. Okay, we are the lens, the mirror, the instrument, the pen, quill, paintbrush for divine communication, for divine presence in the world. We are the instrumentality of that and God is happy to lean down, you might say, to use that instrumentality. It has some distortion that I think you quoted this, Scott, it doesn't have to be perfect. "It doesn't have to be perfect," she says, "I just have to be present with Him." You know, this is the part you read, "living out of faith, hope and love." And He works at the heart level, which rather goes past the words, you know, works directly on your heart. And you may not understand what's happening, but it's happening, that that divine presence is inside you, informing you. And you may not be able to articulate it very well. And presumably any articulation of yours is imperfect, but imperfect is fine. That's how every medium works. That's how the paintbrush works. You know, that's how the mirror works. That's how they work. And that's fine because God's truth is coming through. God's presence, God's love is coming through. It is there and you are receiving it.
Scott Langdon [00:17:07] As Jenny's email continues, she says this.
Letter From Jenny [00:17:11] 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, 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. 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 humorous wonder. It seems that in relating to a person, God delights in all the details of their life. I thought this was excessive. “You must say that because eventually, all those details will be 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 I was somehow earning these experiences of God and then I did trip up physically, and while recovering, I let go of the entire idea of earning God. That is when I was learning the phrase, “Let God be God, let the world and other people be their selves, and let you be you.”
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:28] Yeah. She sums it up, doesn't she? She sums it up. Well, here's what I wrote her at the time where I mainly quote her back to herself. This was so splendid, there was nothing you might say to argue with here.
Scott Langdon [00:19:45] Right, right.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:45] She's sharing these insights. And I say, "Jenny, judging from my own experience, what you write reaches to the heart of life with God, and of God's life with us. “God bends down to where we are,” yes, and let “our own selves” be “the lens” through which God lets Himself be seen. Just so. God relates to us “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.” And that's a word she uses. We've taken just the first half today. We'll be visiting the second half of her message the next time, I guess. But she uses the word vulnerable- that she picks up on the vulnerability of the divine, which has been shared with me as well. But I thought that this was just so amazing. And that you know, was she puzzling- Why on earth are you messing with me, God? You know, don't you have-- I'm just an insignificant creature down here, and you're the whole universe, and all being, and all of past future, and so forth in your compass. Why are you doing this? And it must be that it's going to bound to your glory, assuming God is sort of selfish, it sounds like. But no, Jesus points out, "And I love you." Reminding of that's the main point. God actually loves us. And a lot of this, you know, being fascinated in all the details of the person's life, that's like a loving parent. Or I'm fascinated with Abigail's details, you know? And that's the fascination you have, the interest you have with a person you love. You're interested in the details also. How did breakfast go? Or whatever. Was traffic bad today? You know, you're interested in the details and the loving God is very much like that in this person to person relationship. And so you need to feel free to share those things when you pray or in whatever way you do that, share them with God and God will be interested. You can tell God off, this was a hard day, you know, or I had fun today. Went to the carnival. It was fun. Share all those things with God.
Scott Langdon [00:22:43] I can really relate to her earlier experience of Jesus in the introduction that she had to Jesus as a younger person growing up where Jesus is your friend or, you know, Jesus is there for you. There are billboards, you know, down the highway close to where we live- Jesus is the answer. The trouble with that for me was always sort of Jesus as a vending machine, if you will. So you have, you know, sex or drugs or this other kind of thing that won't satisfy. But Jesus is the thing that will satisfy. And I just couldn't... that didn't make sense to me that Jesus would be the ultimate thing and Jesus would satisfy. Because I, you know, we'd go to camp or we'd go to a Bible function or a church function, and it would be very emotional and very good. And you kind of leave there going, "Yes, Jesus is my friend." And I see that love and this is great, all very real emotions. And at the same time, I have those emotions at the movies, have those same emotions at a baseball game as a fan or something. Had those same emotions in the theater and I thought, those are emotions and they come and go. Those are not the permanent thing. So Jesus could not just be an ultimate thing. Jesus is not a thing. It's not- that's not what we're dealing with. But the only way that I was able to ever experience the inner essence of God, where she says where God is moving through the I am of me, who I am. How does she put it? She says, [00:24:18]"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. [6.3s] So God coming to us, bending down to us where we are, this is still an image of God somewhere else bending down, God out there coming down to me. It's still more intimate than that for me, and the only way that it broke through and outside inside was complete surrender.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:24:47] Aha.
Scott Langdon [00:24:48] Complete openness to all doubt, all fear, all questions. It's not like don't question things. Of course, God wants me to question things. And of course God has made it known to me through working with you that God wants the rigor of doubt of a philosopher. We can't get through it without doubt. We can't get through it without rigor. We can't get through it without searching, without moving. But there is something very basic about the desire to understand- why? You know, why all of this. And Jesus's answer to Jenny is love. "Because I love you." That's the point. God keeps saying it's about Abigail and you. It's about- that's how I want- it's intimate like that. Jenny, I don't want to use you for another purpose. I don't want... And so that knowledge of "because I love you," has informed so much about how I see other people. Because if I love, if I'm loving, I'm not trying to take advantage of them. There's nothing I want from them. There's no. It's just-- I just love you. Why are you saying hi to me, stranger? Just because I want to wish you love. Namaste. You know, all of these other-- all of the religious traditions have that kind of essence of present yourself with love and openness.
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:20] Yeah and you can, you know, Jesus says this, and it's a little shocking at the time, "Love your enemies." But at first, you know, I guess my thought was, well, that's unrealistic. You know, I like some people. I don't like others. Some, I think are doing harm in the world, so I wish they'd stop. You know, I don't see them as valuable, you might say. I see them as the opposite, as dis-valuable. But that doesn't mean I can't love them. I mean, in part because I love them like the parent of a child who's gone bad. Well, you don't like they're going bad because you love them and you'd like them to go right. And that's out of love. So the person you're disliking, I'm assuming you're disliking because they're actually bad, not personality conflict or something. But, you know, if it's just disliking a personality, well, you just need to overcome that. You can't insist everyone be true to your own personal taste or style of humor or whatever. But whether a wicked person, and there are wicked people and wicked behavior, you'll love them. And out of love, you want them to stop being wicked. And if there's something you can do to help them stop being wicked, that would be a wonderful thing to do for them. That would be the best thing you could possibly do. Though it's of course very hard, but sometimes you can make progress in that direction with someone who's behaving badly.
Scott Langdon [00:27:52] Well, love is the transformational catalyst, the tool that all of it- the whole thing is love. And if you're loving that is God at work. So we have to live out of faith, hope and love. You know, St Paul says the most important of these is love, the one that, you know, grounds them all. But by living in that direction, that work is you're working on that. God is working on that other wicked person if there's a wicked person. I always thought that approach that Jesus, I always felt like that was a trick that Jesus was playing. Because if you think it through, you say, love your enemies. So with Jesus, I love my friends. That's right. Well, if I loved my enemies, then they would be my friends. That's right. And then I wouldn't have any enemies. I wouldn't have an enemy because they, if I love them and they'd be my friends. I wouldn't have an enemy if I.. Aha, aha... If you love your enemy, they become your friend. Now, I understand the idea there's wicked people. You can't control them, but all you can control is what you can control. So if you come back with love that's coming back with God and God does the work. God's love does its own work. That's out of your control. And I have found that that kind of release and surrender to God, you do you thing. You do you, let God be God. How does Jenny put it? Let God be God. Let other people be themselves and let you be you. And what do you do, you love?
Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:32] Yeah, well, it reminds me of that incident that I don't think we've ever talked about here, but we've talked about it you might say off the air where you kind of staged a walkout. Where you had an impossible situation in a theatrical production and you just people were being abused and you could not tolerate this anymore. You never even though the person was highly denouncable, you kind of denounce the behavior. They always say, you know, hate the sin, but love the sinner. Okay, The behavior is terrible. But you said after that, you know, if you could give him a lift to the train station, you'd be happy to do it. You know, it's not that you had a continuing ill will, or seeing him as enemy, desire for revenge or anything like that. And Abigail had something like that, they kept firing her. In her early years of teaching at Brooklyn College, and they fired her for really malicious reasons. She had not, you know, sometimes they say get along to go along. She had not gone along with the bad decisions. And so they kept firing her. The powers that be kept firing her. And the amazing thing, she finally won after seven years, got tenure, got a promotion. And it was kind of amazing to everybody that she had no ill will to any of these people who had repeatedly done her in. In academe, getting fired, not getting tenure is life and death, you know. But no, no, she just, then she moved on. So that was a kind of personal quality that she carried inside her. There was one other thing I wanted to mention here, Scott, that I think is important. Jenny had the idea that she must be earning these experiences with God, that God was close because she was doing something right and somehow worrying over that became an ego issue. Began to trip her up, even tripped her up physically. But while recovering, she says, I let go of the entire idea of earning God. You don't have to earn God any more than your children really have to earn your love, right? Or the woman you fall in love with, she doesn't earn it. She may do wonderful things that nurture it, but you don't have to earn God's love. That's, as I've put it, and maybe she puts it this way, that's who God is. That's who God is. That's what God is. God is love of us.
Scott Langdon [00:38:48] 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.