Thursday, August 2, 2007

listening for what feels like nothing

so yesterday i go visit a man in the hospital, a friend of a journeyer. i didn't know this man, but the journeyer asked me to go see him, so i was happy to. turns out he had a big honkin' car accident a few weeks ago. snapped his pelvis. broke a bunch of ribs and his left forearm. had to have all that screwed back together, etc.

they didn't know if he was going to make it, but he did. he's going home and starts physical therapy next week. he's a lucky man. blessed. whatever, based on your view of the universe.

as he's telling me how he's doing, i can tell this has been a big wake-up call for him. that's good. he says he's an executive who works 80-90 hours a week, and he's busy, and at the center of a lot of activity. he has a lot to do.

he also says that this accident has made him start thinking about things. what his life means. what he's supposed to do next. i guess he's 50ish. i'm thinking this is a good time for him to think about what he wants. what he longs for. what he doesn't need anymore.

he's thinking the same thing.

he tells me he wants to do something for god. he doesn't know what that will be. but he's hungry for it.

my guess is, his soul has been hungry a while. he seems like a good man. seems kind. genuine. and the look in his eyes doesn't just look kind or nice - he's searching. he wants to know something. he can't put his finger on it.

i say, All you have to do is listen.

i realize that i have just suggested that he try to do one of the hardest things a businessperson in america can attempt. it probably feels like being told to flap your arms and fly to the moon.
he says he tries to listen, and sometimes it feels like there's just a wall there. no god. even though he believes deeply and wants to hear god speak. i tell him he's definitely not the only person to experience this.

he says he's hungry. he's trying to read his bible, pray; it's quiet late at night on his floor in the hospital and he's had a lot of time to think. i tell him thinking is probably the problem. he might try journaling, and not thinking, just writing. and when a genuinely not-the-monkey-in-his-head thought comes, that's god.
he asks how my wife and i knew to start journey with all these amazing people. how'd you know god was talking? he says. i say that we just got as quiet as we could, over and over and over, and asked other people to pray, and god sent us all kinds of messages. lots of them. weird, strange ones ... beautiful, simple ones ... i say that that's the only way i know how to do this.
i also tell him, he can do this. it'll just take practice. a few small steps at first. it'll be a surprise.


Anonymous said...

Good advice. Silencing the noise in our heads, especially the tapes we play daily about who we think we are, opens us to discovering who we really are--children of God, created in God's image and likeness, a spark to the flame. With that awareness, all things are possible.


Rick Diamond said...


Anonymous said...

A kindred soul

I, too, sense a barrier, a wall, a void that I cannot see or hear through or around.

I feel separated, empty, and alone.

I read Donald Miller’s stories of people hearing God for the first time.

How did they do it?

I hear my pastors and others describe how they hear God and the great joy and terror it brings. I do not hear God.

I fell ashamed, forsaken, lost, an outsider.

Like a Pentecostal who can’t speak God’s language and share in that joy.

What is wrong with me?

Why can’t I shut up and listen.
Addiction to stimulation, inner peace is


Have I ever known it, a child of the TV generation

I’m told that God is there, with me at all times.

Maybe he is here in these words and I too stupid hear them.

I’m told God is there with love and grace beyond measure.

But I just stand there, closed off

I feel like I am standing at the edge of a dock over an ocean of God’s love and grace in the dark of night

My brothers and sisters pleading with me to jump in, the water’s fine.

I feel their love and fellowship, I am blessed. I love them. But I cannot hear him.

But I fear the unseen, the unknown
I will drown, I can’t surrender myself to it.

I play along, fearing to be found out.

God, do I hear you too?
Are you reaching to me?
I stand there, reaching back but short arming your grace.

I fear you

I fear not ever knowing you, hearing you, feeling your love

Will I die and never share in your grace and love?

Will I die and never give myself to you completely?

Hear my prayer

I will strive to shut up, get quiet
I will strive to hear you
I will strive to love you
Wait for me
I just might learn to understand

Rick Diamond said...

hey anonymous. wow. what a beautiful comment you've left. thank you for its honesty and compassion. i too share that fear. i say that i have heard god speak, but it's fuzzy at best. i have to get the same message about seventy different ways before i'll listen, and even then, that doesn't mean i obey. i am able, sometimes, a tiny bit, to feel god within and around me. but mostly i am just hanging on. you're not stupid. you're also not closed off - or you wouldn't be feeling such powerful things.
i play along too, sometimes - i say what i believe, even if i don't feel it all the time. i find that that helps me trust even though a lot of the time i wonder what i'm trusting.
i know what it's like to feel afraid. i think we all do.
i know what it's like to feel like i can't get quiet enough to hear my own heartbeat, much less anything sacred speak to me.
i know what it's like to want to tell god, just wait for me.
there's a wonderful story about a man who comes to jesus and asks jesus to heal his son - "if you are willing." jesus says, Of course i'm willing, and it's totally possible - anything is possible for anyone who believes. (belief here, for me, equals trust, balls to the wall, leap into darkness) The man says, "Master, I do believe ... but help me because I don't believe!"
jesus digs it. yes yes yes.