Today: Hearing the voice of God.
Dear Reader, This powerful story of the voice of God comes from my personal experience, as in prayer, on rare occasions, I’ve heard a voice. Perhaps you too have heard a voice. The stories of the first two people the young man in our story meets after the woman guides him are taken from real people I’ve known and the rest of this unusual story comes from inspiration.
This story is of a disillusioned young man. At 25, he had not succeeded in anything he had hoped to accomplish. He had little education and he worked a minimum wage job putting in long hours in a career with no future.
There was no special person in his life and it felt to him like his family was critical of everything he did, as it destroyed what little self-esteem he had. But the one place he always found comfort was in his church. Now even that no longer worked for him and he stopped attending.
He decided if his life was ever to have meaning, he needed to hear the voice of God. But how could he, for where is God?
Then one Sunday morning, while walking through a park, he saw a 90 year old woman sitting on a bench. Her smile seemed to beckon him and so he sat down next to her.
“What is troubling you young man,” she asked with a sincere sound of caring in her voice and a glow of kindness in her eyes. And for the next 10 minutes he poured out his frustrations and his failures to her, at one point with tears streaming down his cheeks.
“I can help you,” she replied warmly, as she reached over and hugged him. And then she opened her handbag and took out a pen and a piece of paper and began writing.
When she finished, she handed him the paper and said, “If you do the three things I’ve listed here you will find God. And your life will begin to have the meaning you have been seeking.”
Then she added, “Let’s meet here a week from today at this same time and speak again,” as she hugged him. “Everything will be fine, you’ll see.”
When he looked at the paper, he was baffled by what she wrote. But he knew she had lived through wars and economic depression and other hardships and she seemed confident in her advice so he decided to act on it.
A week later, after taking her advice, he approached that park bench with a new confidence. He had a bounce in his step and felt a joy he had never known before. She greeted him with a smile and a hug and they sat down together.
“I can see you are a new and very happy man,” she said. “You must have done the three things I wrote.” “Yes I did,” he replied.
“The first thing you wrote was to buy lunch for a homeless man and join with him while he ate it. I didn’t understand why you wrote that until I did it. At first I was uncomfortable being with him. But he was so hungry, he ate every morsel of food and then he began to talk about himself.
“Long ago he had a wife and two children but he abandoned them, lost in his alcoholism. After years of drinking that left him in tattered old clothing living on the streets, his health was shot and he was near death from a failing liver.
“He had been given Last Rites. But after he saw a bible by his hand, he looked through it and he decided to fight for his life. He prayed for another chance and to his surprise, he didn’t die.
“He began attending Alcohol Anonymous and prayer meetings and he began carrying that bible with him. He’s been sober five years and he still carries that bible everywhere.
“As I listened to him and saw in his eyes how much it meant to him to have my company, I heard something within I had never heard before. It was a voice. It made no sound but I heard it clearly within my mind as it offered words of encouragement, guidance and assurance. I was amazed.
“The next thing on your list was to take a disabled person to a doctor’s appointment. Through a hospital I learned of a wheelchair bound woman and I borrowed a car big enough to transport her and her wheelchair and I lifted her into the car.
“We waited a long time before the doctor saw her and it gave us a chance to talk. When she was young, she was in a terrible car accident and it had paralyzed her from the waist down. But it did something else to her; it isolated her from others as she often sat at home alone, depressed.
“She was so happy to have someone to take her to the doctor but even happier to have someone listen to her. In me, she now has a friend. And again I heard that voice from within.
“The last thing on your list was for me to forgive those who I believed had wronged me. This one I really resisted because I was right in being angry at them. But after a lot of effort I did it anyway.
“My parents were the worst for they were always critical of me. So as an adult, I made their lives miserable. But as I apologized and hugged my mother, she began to cry and she squeezed me so tightly and showered me with kisses. She then got my dad and when I apologized to him, he shook my hand firmly and then hugged me. He tried to speak but he was too choked up.
“I knew a healing had begun. Now we have a far better relationship and I wonder why I wasted so much time and emotion being upset with them. It only hurt us all.
“And then I heard that voice again. This time so strong, it made me tremble.”
“And what did you learn,” asked the 90 year old woman with a radiant smile and a twinkle in her eyes. “I learned that God is within me, where He has always been, for He is in each of us.
“He will speak to me or to anyone else if only we would listen. His voice came to me, to teach me the power of an unselfish act of kindness or of forgiveness. Yet each act uplifted me as much as it did the recipient.
“I also realized you came into my life when I most needed you and when I was finally receptive. It was no coincidence but destiny. My life will never be the same again.”
Right after that, this young man with his new perspective on life began to make changes. He took classes to attain a better education and he got a better job. He also returned to church.
And something else remarkable happened. As he became more forgiving and excepting of others and a better listener, people were attracted to him. He had a new found popularity. And at last he had found God where God has always resided.
Success Tip of the Week:
If you are seeking God, seek Him deep within yourself and recognize Him within others, understanding that their frustration, disappointment and anger with the troubles in their lives may make him hard to find.
Thank you to my friend Kathleen Jacoby, whose Seasons of the Soul newsletter http://www.kathleenjacoby.blogs.com/ piece “Meeting God,” 3/23/11 helped inspire today’s story.
In the next KazanToday:
How a Holocaust survivor became a business giant.