By J.L. Cook
September 12, 1999
I have been having a continuous flow of thoughts about God and life for the past two years. I am in constant amazement of what I have been learning and how I have been learning it, through contemplation. The fact that I might not be totally correct, or understand fully, does not worry me. I believe if I continue to seek God’s counsel, He will lead me to a deeper understanding of what is important, as I mature. We all have an incomplete knowledge of God. The apostle Paul said, “We know in part, and we prophecy in part.” Why is it that we want to hold each other to such a strict standard, which none of us can attain? Why are we so hard on each other when our lack of correct knowledge shows itself? We should be gentle with each other. Being totally correct is not as important as being taught by God.
That is the subject of this letter. Being taught by God. Not that we can even fully comprehend what He is teaching us, but the important part is that we are listening to Him, and thus learning from Him. Our society is so much about knowledge and learning. We think if we accumulate enough knowledge, we can solve all the problems in the world. We think if we study the human body, we can find the secret to cure all sickness. If we learn how to grow plants more efficiently, we can feed the world. We think knowledge is power. We constantly seek knowledge of every kind. But there is a downside to all knowledge except knowledge learned from God.
Knowledge doesn’t contain both good and evil so much as it contains the possibility for both good and evil. This is first expressed in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You see, God gave us free will, so when He created the world, He allowed the possibility of both good and evil, so we would actually have a choice. God did not create evil, but He created the possibility for evil. We, ourselves, are the ones who bring evil or good into existence, when we make a choice.
Somehow, when man creates something, or acquires new knowledge, it brings more of both good and evil into existence. You might create something good, but someone else might use it for evil, so you still brought more of both good and evil into existence. You might create a new drug to cure cancer, but it has side effects. So you create a second drug to counter act the side effects. But that drug may have side effects, too. We think as we expand our knowledge, we can fix our world, but we are bringing more of both good and evil into existence. With all our awesome technology, we are quickly killing this planet, not slowly.
The trick is to create only good. God did that, in the beginning. He created the world, then looked at it and said, “It is good”. When He created Man, He said, “It is good”. What does good mean? Good is about love. It is about relationship. If I do good to you, will it not bring us closer together? Is that not love? Would that not cause us to have a better relationship?
You see, knowledge acquired outside of a love-relationship is harmful in the long run. Knowledge without maturity is dangerous. Everything that our society invents, or creates, brings more of both good and evil into existence. Maybe we need to keep it more simple. Live simple lives. Live in harmony with God, mankind, and mother earth. Be content with what we have. Seek God more than all these other things. We need to be about doing good works, like our Father. Works of love. We need to be serving one another, rather than ourselves. This will bring more “good” into existence.
This is part of what Adam and Eve did that was wrong. They partook of knowledge without their Father leading them into it. They thought they would be nourished, but came away with shame. Sure they disobeyed Him, but that was only a matter of time. Since God gave us free will, someone would make the wrong choice, sooner or later. The garden of Eden was not meant for the entire human race to live in. No, it was a special place for infants. The fact is that each and every one of us makes mistakes. It was no big surprise to the Father, but it still hurt when it happened. The real tragedy was that Adam and Eve were not holding the hand of their Father as they walked through life. They were not mature enough to eat of this tree. And when they did, they lost their purity and innocence. When the time was right, God might have gently led them into some of this knowledge, protecting them as they went. Or, eventually, He would have explained why they did not need that kind of nourishment.
This is the point that I am trying to make, that we should let our Father lead us into knowledge as we can handle it, and as we need it. We need to be taught by God. We need to be taught while in relationship with our Father. Isn’t this the same way we treat our children? When our one year old toddler gets into the cabinets, we scold him, and then lock him out of them(just like God did to Adam and Eve). When our toddler learns to open the front door, we tell him he must never go outside without holding onto our hand. This is not a law forever. It is only until he is mature enough to go outside on his own. In the meantime, he will be learning from his parents.
God is the same way. Adam and Eve represent the infancy of mankind. Later, the law of Moses was given to the immature, to children who needed boundaries. Then, when the time was ripe, Jesus came to fulfill the law. He came to take us into maturity. He came preaching that love is the fulfillment of all laws. But it is not our love. It is the love of the Father. It is the love that we have learned from Him. It is His greatest desire to grow us up into mature children of God, just as this is our desire for our children. We want to help them mature into strong and capable adults. We are created in the image of God. God is love. That is what God wants us to become, loving people. People who walk in a relationship with God and one another.
The trick is to learn while in relationship. We must learn from the Father while holding His hand. I think this is what is so great about home schooling. The kids are learning while spending time with their parents. No institution can take the place of learning from your parents. It can’t even come close. We need that relationship. We need to learn from our Father. We need to learn from Him as we spend time with Him. That is the best kind of knowledge.
Knowledge that comes from time spent together, from listening to our Father. God’s greatest desire is to spend time with each one of us, to teach us, to lead us into maturity. We need to spend time with our Father, listening to His voice, holding on to His hand. And we will learn. We will learn more than we ever imagined possible. We will learn the truth, and we will be set free.
This was Adam and Eve’s mistake. They were trying to learn without holding onto their Father’s hand. They wanted to be like Him, so they took a short cut. It is not wrong to want to be like your Father, rather it is the most natural thing in the world. Even the Father wants it.
Once there was a man who asked his young daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said, “I want to be you, daddy. I want to be you”.
Its cute, but it is very true. When we are young, we want to be just like our parents. If Adam and Eve had gone to their Father, after talking to the serpent, there would have been no problem. The problem arose when they tried to become adults without being led by the Father into maturity. Isn’t this what we need today? To be led by the Father into maturity?
Relationship is what it is all about. God created us so He could have a loving relationship with us, so He could be our Father. It was that way in the beginning, and it will be that way in the end. Doesn’t it make sense that God would want to have a relationship for eternity, with those people who have been spending time with Him? That is what the judgment day will be about. We actually will have chosen our own destiny. If we are His children, and have been spending time with Him, we will automatically be welcomed to that great family reunion with God, the Father. It will be about relationship, not what you know or how much you know. We will never know enough or be correct enough or be worthy enough. It will be about who you know! We need to be in a loving relationship with the Father, and with one another.
We are so scientific in our studies. We want to cut God up into a million pieces, study each piece under a microscope, and proclaim a certain truth about each part. Then we re-assemble Him and think that we have come to know Him. But we have it all wrong. He is much bigger than the sum of His parts. He is much greater than all the truths about Him, all put together. We must spend time with Him in order to get to know Him. We must talk to Him. We must listen and learn from Him. We must walk with Him. We must hold his hand. We must enter into a love-relationship with Him. Then we will experience the reality of knowing Him, and we will find real life, too. Because real life is in Him who created life.
Someone might ask, “How can I have a relationship with the Father?” The answer is by spending time with Him. Isn’t that how you would get close to anybody? By spending time with them, by going through experiences with them. A bond will form, and it will grow. So, go ahead, talk to Him. Listen for His voice. Hold His hand. Look into His eyes. Tell Him you love Him. It sounds too simple. Man wants to make it way too complicated, but that is all it is about. If it is about more than that, then He will let you know, when you spend time with him, when you listen to Him. More than anything else, our Father wants to spend time with us. We are his children. He will take whatever time we will give. He just wants to be our Father. He just wants to teach us, to bring us into maturity.
That is what I am finally coming to understand. That God is my Father, and he wants to speak to me, personally. His words have power to create life, just as they did in the beginning. He spoke and life was formed. Even now His words have the power to heal, to teach, to love, to nourish us. His words are about much more than mere knowledge; they bring life. He is always about love, about relationships. His words are much more than correct; they can actually heal us. They nourish not only our spirits but even our bodies. They make us whole. They make us complete. They make us what we were created to be, children of God. Man’s knowledge may stimulate the brain, and bring comforts(through technology), but God’s words, spoken into our hearts, actually bring life.
Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. He was not speaking about the written word, but rather the spoken word. The spoken word has the power to nourish us and bring life. We have a need in us that is just as real as our need for food. We need God! We need to have God in us! He is the essential nutrient of life. This is a very real need. We need a relationship with him, and we need His personal teaching. The written word has much value, but it is only the shadow of the real thing. The spoken word is the reality. God wants a personal relationship with us, not a long distance one. Would you rather your children read a book about you, or spend time with you? Reading the book is of some value, but spending time with the Father is the reality.
When I was a young Bible major at Abilene Christian College, in the early 70’s, I came to believe in what I called “struggle”. It came from the scripture that says, “Seek, and you will find, Knock and the door will open, Ask and it will be given to you”. I called this “struggle” because the scripture means keep on seeking, keep on knocking, keep on asking. To me this was talking about a struggle, but it was also a promise. It will happen if you keep on.
So I began to struggle to understand God, to understand life, etc. I sometimes read the Bible for as long as 8 hours at a time, struggling to understand its message. I didn’t have to force myself to read the Bible. It came alive! My mind was being constantly blown away by the awesome things I was learning about God. Every day, I was more amazed than the day before. But I wasn’t just learning important stuff; I was also starting to change.
I was being filled with love. That was the main thing I was getting out of it, and I was wallowing in it. I felt whole for the first time in my life. I had no fear in me because God was with me. I was full of Joy! But it never dawned on me that God was teaching me. I thought I was just coming to understand, because I was struggling to do just that. I thought it was merely a spiritual law of God, that I had stumbled onto. It was, but it was much more than that, too.
I walked in that for about two years, and then suddenly, one day I felt like someone reached up inside me and pulled the plug. Everything drained out of me, all my emotions, all my feelings. This totally confused me. I absolutely did not know where this came from. But it was very real. I still believed the same things about God, but I could no longer hear Him. When I opened my Bible, the words were dull and lifeless. My prayers just bounced off the ceiling, and seemed to go nowhere. It felt like I had walked into a dense fog, and could not see anymore. I stayed in that fog for about 30 years. I still believed in God, but I knew I was not walking close to Him anymore. I deteriorated until there was only a shell of a person left. Then when I found myself at the very bottom of despair, I started contemplating life. I was deep in depression. I just wanted to find a simple stress-free life style. So I began to search for a simple life. And to my surprise, I began to find God.
I wasn’t searching for Him. I was searching for life. But I found God. He is the creator of life. He has the power to heal. I found Him merely through contemplation. I was not studying the Bible. He began to teach me some things about life. He said life is about relationships. Life is about love. I felt nourished by His words. I felt better in many ways. I continued doing this day after day, for hours at a time. Then one day, I realized that my depression was gone. Then I realized that the fog had lifted. I decided to double check. I opened a Bible and started to read. Yes! It made sense. I was getting something out of it on a deeper level than just words written on paper. The fog was gone!
I still don’t understand what happened, but I’m glad I am back in a love-relationship with the Father. I am hearing from Him, and his words are healing me. I have been getting thoughts that are so awesome that finally I realized that it had to be God putting them there. My Father is trying to teach me. His words are life and health. I used to call it contemplation, but now I just call it listening to my Father. That is really all it is. Nothing special, just what He always wanted, to spend some time with me, and teach me about life. God can speak to us in many different ways, but I am convinced that the best way is one on one.
I still read the Bible, but I spend much time merely thinking about God, listening to the thoughts that flow through me. Something special is happening. Its more than knowledge. It is a special kind of nourishment. It is words that cause life to form in me. I continue doing this daily, and it is becoming easier and easier. Every time I turn my thoughts toward God, I am rewarded. I am amazed. I am fed. I am learning that not only do I need His love to make me whole, but I need His words. I need an intimate relationship with Him. Rituals and formulas can’t make this happen. Correct doctrine can’t make it happen. It can only happen in a relationship between the Father and a child.
Jesus and his disciples stopped at the well just outside of a town in the land of Samaria. The disciples went into town to shop for food, leaving Jesus alone. A certain Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well. Jesus asked her for a drink of water. She was thinking, “If this Jewish man only knew who it is that he is talking to, he would not even speak to me”.
But Jesus, speaking out loud, said, “If you knew who is speaking to you, you would ask me for water and I would give you living water”.
Then they talked for awhile, and Jesus amazed her with the things that He knew about her. She knew He was special, and she went into town to tell everyone. When the disciples returned, they offered Jesus food, but he refused. He explained that he had food which they were not aware of. They did not understand so Jesus explained further, saying, “My food is to do the will of the Father”.
Somehow Jesus was nourished by His interaction with the woman. But at the same time, He was also interacting with the Father. He was being nourished by this. I am convinced that his Father, who is a spirit, was telling him things about this woman. He was nourished by doing God’s will. God must have told him his will, for him to know it. In other scriptures, Jesus says that He speaks only what the Father teaches Him. But the point I am making here is Jesus received some nourishment that was real. We wish to do the will of the Father, also. But we must hear from Him in order to do His will. And we must listen in order to hear.
Another time, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do the people think that I am?” His disciples said , “Some think you are John the Baptist, some think you are Elijah or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked, “But who do you think that I am?” Simon blurted out, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
Jesus looked at him and said, “Blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah, because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but rather my Father in heaven.” Something special happened here. God put a thought into Simon’s head, and being the impulsive person that he was, he just blurted it out. He did not know that God had spoken to him, but Jesus recognized it immediately. Jesus went on to say that upon this rock, I will build my church. It was not the confession that was the rock, but rather that Simon heard from the Father and shared it with others. This is the rock that Jesus will build His church upon, a bunch of weak and sinful people who are hearing from their Father. What better foundation could there be?
Yes, the confession was very important, but of even greater importance is the fact that he heard it from the Father. If we can do that, we can know not only that Jesus is the son of God, but many other great truths as well. Just imagine a church where all the members are hearing from the Father. No wonder Paul had to tell them later to control it, to let only one person speak at a time. They were all hearing from God, or at least very many of them. And they all felt they had something to say. What a great problem to have! Too many people hearing from the Father. Too many people wanting to share what God has been teaching them. Sure, the message is important, but we won’t have the message if we don’t hear it from the Father.
This gives new meaning to the scripture, “Do not forsake the assembling together.” If we are hearing from the Father, we will have something to say to each other. We will be able to nourish one another with words from the Father. Remember, its always about love and relationship. So don’t squelch it! Don’t control it to death! Let God move in us. He desperately wants to speak to us and through us. Don’t quench the Spirit!
If a person has a word from the Father, we need to hear it. It doesn’t matter if they are qualified or worthy to speak to us. If God is speaking to them, we need to hear it. God once used a jackass to speak to a prophet. He spoke to a harlot once. He has spoken to many different people over the years. Let Him do as He wishes. Let him speak. We need to encourage this. We need to hear from the Father. Don’t be afraid. We might learn something. We might be nourished. We might be touched by the Father.
We don’t have to be good enough to hear from the Father. He wants to speak to all of us, even when we are unworthy. He is our Father even when we are weak and sinful. He still loves us. Don’t you still talk to your kids when they have done something wrong? Remember the story about Cain and Abel? Which one did God speak to the most? It was Cain, was it not? He was the weaker one. He had the greatest need. God tried to counsel him. Our Father wants to speak to us, even when we are bad. He wants to heal us. He wants to spend time with us. Jesus said, “I came to call the sinners, not the righteous!” Jesus came to speak “good news” to sinners.
We don’t need the world’s knowledge so much, but we do need knowledge that comes from spending time with our Father. I mean this is a real need, like food and water. We need the nourishment that comes from His words, from intimate contact, from holding His hand. We will become mature as we learn from the Father. We will become like Him as we spend time with Him. There are no short cuts. There are only loving relationships. Relationships where we listen more than we talk. Relationships where the other person is more important than us at that moment. The spoken word has power. Our words will have power if we hear them from the Father. Our words will heal, will nourish, if we learn them from the Father.
We need to ask ourselves this question, Is God real, or is He just an idea? Is God real, or is He just the sum of all correct doctrine? Is He really our Father? Because if He is real, and if He is our Father, then He wants a relationship with us. A real relationship. He wants to spend time with us. He wants to teach us one on one. He wants to grow us up into mature children of God. He wants to mature the entire human race. We might not be worthy, but we are still His children, and He wants to be with us and in us.
It’s not magic! It’s not a miracle! It’s what God wanted from the beginning of time. It’s the normal way of life. It’s the normal walk of life. Jesus came to show us how to be normal children of God. He came to show us how to be human beings. Jesus was God, created in the image of man. We are man, created in the image of God. Same difference. It’s about God in us. It’s about us in God. It’s about a love-relationship. It’s not about rules or laws or policies. They have some value, but we must go beyond them. We must step into the presence of the living God, and say I love you, Father. I want to be your child. I want to learn from you.
If you are wanting some scriptures, here’s just a few: Mt.16:15-17; Mt.11:25; Jn.6:45; Heb.8:10,11; 1Thess.4:9; Rom.8:13-16; 1Cor.2:6-16; Rom.8:14-17; Eph.3:3-6; Gal.1:11-16; Mt.11:28-30; Eph.6:17; Jn.14:21,26; Jn.15:26; Jn.16:12-15; Phil.3:15; 1Jn.2:27; Mt.4:4; Mt.6:24-33; Jn.17:3; Jn.4:5-42; Jn.6:63,68; Jn.6:27-58; Acts17:25+; Acts2:25-28
There are many more scriptures, but the point is that I got these ideas first by listening to God, then I went to the scriptures for confirmation. Sometimes God would bring certain scriptures to my mind and then fill them full of meaning. There is much more to say about this, but God has not yet revealed any more. I continue to listen to Him and learn from Him daily. I am constantly amazed and nourished by Him, my Father. Is it really so hard to believe that if we listen, we will hear His voice? Is it just too hard to believe that, if we listen, we will have thoughts which are from Him? Is it going too far, to believe that God, our Father, would like to speak to each and every one of us?