OUR KNOWABLE GOD
Learning How to Relate to Our Invisible Lord
by Rose Noland*
Is it truly possible to have a close relationship with the Creator of the universe? YES! God wants us to know Him intimately, as He says repeatedly in the Scriptures. All through history God has pursued a relationship with mankind, both corporately and individually. Let me tell you the story of how God pursued me….
Meeting Jesus was only the beginning of my relationship with Him, not just an event. I floundered for six or seven years, trying to get to know this wonderful God who saved me, but He still seemed distant to me. He was just someone big and powerful up there—somewhere. I often had doubts about my salvation and thought perhaps I was just fooling myself about heaven and this God who says He loves me. But God knew my doubts….
Now, that’s my story, but anyone can have an intimate relationship with God…. Ordinary people from all walks of life…can have a deep, vibrant relationship with the God of the universe!
This book is about helping you accomplish just that. It is about how my God drew me to Himself; and what I’ve learned from the Master Teacher about how to connect with Him…. My prayer is that this book will guide you as you endeavor to discover the truths about God for yourself, and stimulate your mind to deeply ponder the vastness of our magnificent God and the way to bond with Him.
I’ve also written this book because there are many people who don’t even know what comprises a good relationship…. Many folks… haven’t got a clue what makes a good relationship, let alone thinking that they could have one.
I pray that you will accept His invitation to not only enter the most beautiful love relationship possible, but also to develop and nurture it into a vibrant growing oneness with God.
RELATING TO A SPIRITUAL BEING
God is a being, not a force or thing. He made us in His image and for relationship—relationship with Himself and with others (Gen 1:26; Gen 2:18). But how in the world—a physical, tangible one— do we relate to Someone we cannot see, hear, or touch? Well, since we live in this physical world, why not look at what a relationship entails with someone that we can see, hear, and touch? That is, human relationships. Even Jesus Himself depicted our relationship with God in human ways: a father with his child, a teacher with his student, a master with his servant, and a bride and groom….
EACH HUMAN RELATIONSHIP IS UNIQUE
Each of us will relate to God in a unique fashion. Our personalities, abilities, passions, needs, experiences, and circumstances are all different. Therefore, despite the basic similarities, we each bring something unique to a relationship….
I can’t help but wonder if God created us each uniquely so that He would derive a special pleasure from each of His children. Consider a collector of paintings. No two paintings are alike. Each one is special and brings a different delight to the viewer. Now imagine that the collector is also the painter, who is masterfully and meticulously perfecting each piece of art. That’s our God! I take great comfort in knowing that I am special to Him. I have struggled greatly most of my life with a poor self-image…. I thank my God often that He taught me that although I may not be worthy, I am not worthless!
Desiring a growing relationship with God is only the first step in developing one. A good relationship is not automatic…. One has to be purposeful in developing, maintaining, and improving relationships.…
Now God not only wants a relationship with us, but He wants one that is growing and vibrant. And just as God took the first step in pursuing us (Jn 6:44), He also continues to pursue us in the relationship. However, as in human relationships, one can only go so far without the other’s response; it will either move toward a closer relationship or away from one. In the same way, God doesn’t force us to walk closely with Him, but He will bring circumstances and people into our lives to woo us to Himself….
So are you willing to seek after Him? If you are, get ready, because He promises you will find Him (Jer 29:13-14)!
COMMUNICATING WITH EACH OTHER
How can we listen and hear God since He doesn’t speak audibly to us? To begin, we need to ask ourselves the question, “Are we really listening or are we like the nation of Israel?”
“You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.” (Is 42:20)
Is the extent of our communication with God telling Him what we want and then expecting Him to immediately answer “yes” and in a way that is blatantly obvious? Sometimes God does answer quickly and obviously, but not always. Why? Because He isn’t our cosmic genie waiting to grant our every desire! He is like a good father who doesn’t spoil his children with everything they want, but gives them only what is beneficial. God wants to be in relationship with us, not to be our vending machine.
You may be wondering whether it is really possible to hear His “voice.” The answer is yes. As mentioned under God’s part on speaking, our Lord does communicate with His people and He does so clearly. So what’s the problem then? If God hears my prayer, then why doesn’t He answer? I believe much of the problem lies in the following things:
- Our lack of understanding about how God speaks–through His Word, prayer, His people (the church), and circumstances
- The inability to recognize His voice and to distinguish it from our own, the world, or Satan
- Unconfessed sin and living in disobedience (Ps 66:18; Zec 7:13)
- Asking with an improper attitude towards our holy God (prideful) (Is 66:2-4)
- Asking with wrong motives (Jas 4:3)
- Having wrong expectations
Jesus tells us in John 10:1-16 that His sheep do recognize His voice and they follow Him. So then, it is a matter of learning how to listen and to do so with the right heart attitude.
HOW TO LISTEN AND RECOGNIZE GOD’S VOICE
First I must say that recognizing God’s voice has been a longing in my heart for a very long time. I also have to say I have not arrived, but I have come a long way. What I have learned is that it takes diligence and a great desire, but it is invariably worth the effort. Effective communications with humans is difficult—just ask husbands if they understand their wives—how much more so with our transcendent God? Just as in relationships with people, there is no coasting….
*Copyright © 2012 Rose Noland All Rights Reserved
Our Knowable God: My Book’s Journey
Many people are curious as to how this book came about–how long it took to write, etc. So here you go.
The journey began without me even knowing I was on one. In 2005, the Lord led me to give a devotional on the original premise of my book to a small group of women at my church. Despite the fact that I didn’t think it was well received, I enjoyed working on it so much that I continued to do so. I had a blast doing it for my understanding of God and how to relate to Him grew immensely.
In the fall of 2008 I remember one day while praying, God impressed upon my heart to write a book on the topic. I must admit, at first I was flabbergasted at the thought! Me, write a book? You got to be kidding! I hated writing in school. So no doubt, at first I questioned if it was really the Lord telling me to write it. After several more days (or weeks?) of prayer, God confirmed it. Like it or not God had commissioned me. I’ve learned that there’s no sense in arguing with your Maker.
The next thing I did was to counsel with Marv Patrick, one of my pastors. I distinctly remember saying to him, “I’m not here for your approval, but God has told me to write a book. I’m here for any guidance you may have.” After I told him the premise of the book I asked him if he had ever read a book using this approach. I was shocked at this well-read man’s response of “no.” However, he liked the approach and especially the chart I put together. He strongly encouraged me to put it in the book—which I did in the appendix.
After that encouraging meeting I started writing, begging God every step of the way for wisdom. Of course, God came through. I remember many a time sitting at my desk with pen and paper after I had researched a particular relational aspect, thinking “how in the world do I organize all this knowledge and communicate it in such a way that it would be clear to my readers? I haven’t got a clue!” But as I prayed, God would lead. Sometimes it flowed easily, other times it was like pulling teeth. During those times, I would cry out for help, and eventually it came—often with a mandate to go back and study some more.
The hardest chapter to write was the “love” chapter. After I had done a ton of research and prayerful thinking for over a month, I still couldn’t figure out how to write this chapter. I mean, volumes have been written on this topic of love, and God’s love for us may be the most important chapter of the entire book. The burden of handling this topic correctly and doing it the way God wanted me to for this book was extremely great. “Where do I start? What angle do I take?” were questions that hounded me. Finally after at least another 2 weeks of soul wrenching prayer, God showed me. Then it still took another month to write. Nevertheless, at the end, I was pleased with the result and thought it worth all the effort. I praise my Savior for every step of the way.
What makes my book journey all the more astounding—at least to me—is that I was dealing with my husband’s cancer and subsequent passing during the entire time. Ed’s cancer first appeared in 2004 and he went home to be with his Lord in March of 2010. I truly believe it was God’s kindness to give me such a project during my life’s most difficult trial. He knew it would help me stay focused on Him and His Word. It also made me feel I was doing something significant and bigger than myself. It was exactly what I needed.
During the entire book venture God also provide other things that I needed to accomplish such a daunting task. First, I had Ed’s support the whole way. Next the Lord gave me Bea, a precious elderly lady who prayed for me daily and kept me accountable in working on my book. He also provided my friend, Lora, to help with expressing my ideas in a clear way. Those were times I greatly cherished and without her the book would not have been as polished.
Another way I saw the hand of God working is how He led me to my editor, Heather. The circumstances surrounding it were too uncanny to be anything but the Lord. In the fall of 2009 Heather and I drove up together to a women’s retreat in Pennsylvania. On the return home we stopped for dinner, and I spilled the beans about writing this book. Up until that point I had kept it quiet except for a few people. I was just bursting at the seams with excitement about all I was learning in this endeavor, and it kind of slipped out. But it must have been God-ordained because she had experience in editing and graciously offered her expertise. Wow! I hadn’t even thought that far.
Not only did Heather provide her know-how, but also encouragement. Because of my school experience, I felt very inadequate and unsure of myself in writing. She encouraged me by telling me I had a good writing style. That really shocked me and spurred me on to continue. I am so grateful to her. She not only helped me with grammar and sentence structure, but with the overall content and flow as well.
Another concern I had in which God provided was making sure my book was biblically sound. Pastor Marv was willing to take on that job. This was no small thing because his schedule was already full. It was very important that not only was I biblically correct in my thinking, but also in my writing. So he made sure my words came across without any spiritual ambiguity. I am very much indebted to him for his time, wisdom, and effort.
The first draft of my book was done by early summer of 2010. That’s amazing to me considering Ed had passed away that March. By the end of the summer of 2011, in conjunction with my 3 helpers of Heather, Lora, and Pastor Marv the book was virtually finished.
Now the question was, “How in the world do I publish this thing?” Mind you, I didn’t wait till it was nearly done to start praying for direction. I found out publishing was a totally different ballgame. In a lot of ways, it was harder than writing the book itself! I will spare you all the grueling details. Suffice it to say I was on my face before God pleading for guidance—often.
Finally God answered and led me to self-publish through a company called Createspace. Allow me to elaborate some of the details to show you how really cool our God is.
In the early fall of 2011, I was at the YMCA’s locker room talking with a dear sister in Christ about the status of my book. Well, another Christian lady, whom I had never met, overheard our conversation. She was also a writer and belonged to a local writers’ group. She invited me to attend one of their meetings. It was there that I met another author who had self-published several books. She suggested I check out Createspace and the rest is history. It was exactly the guidance for which I had been asking God. I submitted my manuscript the following January and had the finished product in hand by the end of April of 2012.
What an exciting journey it has been! So far the book has been very well received and is helping others better relate to their God. My biggest desire for this book is not in the number of books I will sell, but in the number of lives God will touch through its message. God clearly communicated to me early on that the book’s message was the most important thing—the message that God is knowable and wants to be known intimately and how to achieve this.
God, of course, is doing His part in helping to get the message out. He has allowed me to do a seminar and teach an 11 week Sunday school class for the women of my church. I’ve lead several small Bible study groups using the material in my book. In addition, this book is being used for one-on-one discipling by myself and others. He has also allowed me to speak at a different church on the book’s topic.
How the Lord is marketing my book is also amazing. He is working in ways that are far beyond me. I have no idea where and how the Lord will lead. I just know that He will. It’s so very humbling that this big and mighty God would choose to use little me to do such a BIG job. I believe that is so that He and He alone will get the glory!