The Day I Met God

A little background:  My wife and I and our three young children moved to California in April 1967. I was 26 years old and a devout Roman Catholic. I had been born Methodist; converted by my parents to the Episcopal Church at age two; and to the Catholic Church at age three. I have therefore been baptized three times, and have always been very serious about God. I wanted to do what God wanted. I attended Catholic schools starting in the third grade and continuing through college and was taught that their way was the way of God and there was none other. The Catholic God was harsh, judgmental, and arbitrary, and  was nothing at all like the loving father depicted by Jesus.

Shortly after we got to California, I don't quite know what got into me, but I became curious about church history. I started reading. I was careful to select only books having the Bishop's Imprimatur, which certified that the book was suitable for reading by Catholics. What I found horrified me. Church history, especially during the Middle Ages, is filled with politics, violence, and viciousness. So I began reading about the early Christian movement, the Gnostics, St. Augustine, origins of the Protestant Reformation, other Christian denominations, and Eastern religions. I was searching, yes, but not for anything in particular. I was just trying to collect as much information as I could.

One Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on the couch in the living room, reading a book whose title I cannot recall. All at once, I heard a rustling sound, off to my right, like the very distinct sound that the leaves on cottonwood trees make when the wind blows. I turned to see what it was and there, standing to my right about ten feet away and smiling broadly, with a big, happy smile, stood God.

I was stunned, incredulous. I had no idea that such a thing was even possible. But there He stood! I scrambled to my feet - it was impossible to remain sitting - and turned to face Him. I thought to myself, 'I wonder if I should kneel', and immediately got His reply, an entire sentence all at once, like a shot in my mind, 'That's not the kind of relationship God wants with His children.' So I remained standing.

An immense kindness radiated from Him, and I realized that this is what God is really like. Anger flashed through me because of what I had been taught, and I said, 'I KNEW you weren't the way they said you were.' He accepted my anger without any reaction at all. Then God moved closer and His kindness flooded through me from my head to my feet. The love and warmth that radiated from Him were utterly beyond words. I was completely surrounded by it and taken up in it, and completely at ease in His presence.

This was not 'The Lord God Almighty', some being of incredible power and majesty; this was my God, someone whom I had somehow always known and instantly recognized. And there was not a single solitary trace of anger, criticism, judgment, punishment. These things simply did not exist.

I was irresistibly drawn to Him, and felt an urgent, almost desperate yearning to be close to Him. So I said, 'I'd like to do something really big for you', in the sense of giving a gift to this wonderful being. There was a smile, and then came the reply, 'Just do the best you can whatever may come'.

That wasn't good enough for me, of course, so I replied, 'No, no, you don't understand, I want to do something really big for you.' There was an even broader smile, a feeling of affection for the energy and impetuosity in this young guy, and again the reply, 'Just do the best you can whatever may come.' He let me know that He wasn't going to give me an assignment on the spot, and also that it wasn't for me to decide what I was to do anyway. Then it was as though He lifted me, suspended off the floor, in His flood of kindness.

I hovered there for a few minutes, and then became curious. After all, this is God and I can ask questions! It occurred to me to ask about the relationship between quantum electrodynamics and Einstein's theory of relativity, but I feared that I might not understand His answer because I am an engineer, not a physicist. So I settled on something I'd wondered about since I was a child: time.

I asked Him, 'What is time like for you?' and instantly a panorama appeared in front of me in the shape of a semi circle. Events of 2000 BC were on my right and those of the present day on my left, and there was a dizzying, incredible series of scenes in between, everything happening at the same time. I wasn't sure what to make of this. I asked Him, 'What do you DO with all this'? His response was a gentle smile.

I remained frozen in place, still hovering as it were, and then, as I was getting tired, God gradually withdrew, leaving me dazed but with the memory of His kindness and what it felt like to be immersed in it."

I later wondered why I didn't record the date and time of day and the book that I was reading; after all, one would think that meeting God face to face would be a truly momentous occasion. I know the reason, though, and the reason is that being with God is so absolutely natural that it doesn't occur to you that anything momentous is happening, and also, that our dates and times are of no importance at all. I remember that it was the second Sunday in February, 1968; that I was reading in the living room in our house in San Jose, and I had to stand up when He appeared. The second Sunday of the month was February 11, 1968. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon.

The experience came from outside and was unasked; unsought; undreamt of; and could not be made to repeat, no matter how hard I tried. I had no idea such a thing could even be possible. But the Catholic version of God that I had been taught since I was a child was gone forever. No longer did I feel that I had to kneel in church, and genuflect in front of the tabernacle, as the priest performed his rites. I knew who God was, and there was no need or point in following rituals for interacting with Him.

I've asked myself many times over the years, "Why me? Why have I been given such a fantastic privilege?" I don't have an answer. All that I know for sure is that I was seeking. Maybe it's just what Jesus said, "Seek and you will find."

And, as I finally realized: it is not up to me to question God's personnel decisions.

I wish I could say that I became miraculously saintly afterwards, but I did not. I remained the same man with the same personality, and the same strengths and weaknesses, but with an entirely altered worldview. The experience was without question the most profound and influential that I've had in this life. The memory of His kindness, and the example that He gave me, remains as fresh today, 38 years later, as it was when the experience came to an end.

I have a subsequent unhappy event to relate. A few weeks after this experience, I made an appointment with a parish priest, a young, enthusiastic, dedicated man. After thinking it over, it seemed to me that what I had experienced ought at least to be discussed with a religious professional.

I sat in his office, and began to relate what had happened. I got about three sentences out, when he stopped me, stood up, and said, "I don't have time to work with you. You'll have to find somebody else." He walked out of his office and closed the door behind him, leaving me shut inside. Obviously, what I had to say was unwelcome, and I learned from this what so many of my correspondents know: it's best to keep quiet about these things. Most people just don't understand.

My friends who know this story have asked me, "What was He like?"

Like This:

Definitely NOT like this:

He was so kind and loving, so different from the God I had been taught to believe in. Kindness just poured out of Him. The love and the warmth which radiated from Him were utterly beyond words. It was incredible, beyond description.

There are no words in our language to describe the immensity of His lovingkindness. I have heard it said, "God is Love." That just doesn't do it. That is like saying, "The universe is nice." There is, in fact, one single word that describes God perfectly, and that word is lovingkindness: kindness toward me, kindness toward us all, kindness toward the world, kindness toward everyone and everything, without exception.

My friends have also asked, "What did He look like?" Well, He was about six inches taller than I am, which would put His height at about 6' 6"; He had brown hair and blue eyes, and was dressed in a long brown robe. His appearance was that of a well built man about 35 years old; however, it was clear that God was neither male nor female; He was just God. The masculine appearance was for my benefit.

So God showed me what He is like - an infinite ocean of kindness - but let's talk for a moment about what God is NOT. There was not a single solitary trace of anger, fear, criticism, judgment, vengeance, revenge, jealousy, punishment. These things simply do not exist. You could say that He is not capable of it. I also did not see any sign of the "Holy Trinity." There was no hint of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There was just God, nobody else.

For me, it put an entirely different spin on the view of God as a harsh, judgmental, vengeful deity, a God that imposed hideous punishments for things we've done wrong, and infinite punishments for finite transgressions. He simply is not like that.

Copyright 2009 The Kindness of God