There are five levels of relationship through which we can progress in our walk with God.
- When you are born again, you become a child of God.
- We grow to become sons and daughters of God.
- We then progress to become a servant of God.
- From there, we can become a friend of God.
- And finally, we are yoked with the Lord to become His wife – the Bride.
In which of these ve stages are you in? Are you at the stage of being a child of God, a son or daughter who has learned to exercise the family rights? Or are you a servant of God who is faithful in the house of God, doing something for the Lord God? Or are you a friend of God, learning to walk so closely to Him, sharing mysteries and secrets as a friend? When you’ve reached the stage of a friend, you have learned that a friend loves at all times; not just some of the time but at all times.
Learning to Love
When I rst went to the USA in 1991, many people came to me and said, “Oh brother, we love you.” In most contexts such words would mean that one is truly loved. Love is beyond merely liking. We are loved. But later on I discovered that what they really meant was not love, but like.
In the West, I discovered, when people say love, they often don’t really mean love but only like. In the East, when we say “I love you” it means we will even give our life for you; I will stick my neck out for you. That is love. In the West, they look at their dog and say “I love my dog.” Then they look at a person and say “Oh, I love you, my brother.” Which love is your love? If you love me with the same love that you have for your dog, what does that mean? Do you see how meaningless and valueless the expression is?
Because you mix love and like so easily, you can turn it on and off. If you really love, it is turned on all the time, no matter what state the object of your love is. It stays constant.
We must learn how to love God. It does not come automatically. It does not come like lightning and thunder from heaven. In order to develop our love for God, we must learn to hunger for Him. Unless and until you hunger, God will not come down. He will not draw nigh unto you unless you rst draw near to him (Jas 4:8).
Consider this example from the life of the prophet Moses.
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.Exodus 3:1-6
When the prophet Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed by re, he was intrigued by it. When he decided to take the rst step to draw near to see the strange and mysterious phenomenon, the Lord, too, moved near towards Moses to talk with him.
If you study this passage carefully, it was an Angel of the Lord that came in the re that was upon the bush. Angels can come and go in re. We see this in the incident described in Judges 13:8-20.
8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.”
9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field; but Manoah her husband was not with her.
10 Then the woman ran in haste and told her husband, and said to him, “Look, the Man who came to me the other day has just now appeared to me!”
11 So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, “Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am.”
12 Manoah said, “Now let Your words come to pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?”
13 So the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful.
14 She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.”
15 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.”
16 And the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the Lord.)
17 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?”
18 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”
19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on —
20 it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar — the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.Judges 13:8-20
So, after being fascinated by the strange phenomenon of the burning bush, the prophet Moses decided to take a step beyond passing curiosity to really understand who are what was behind it. When he drew near, God also stepped through the veil – drew near to him – and spoke to him.
Hunger for God
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.Matthew 5:6
We must hunger and thirst for God. If we don’t hunger and thirst after spiritual things, we are living a very mundane life. We are not living the life for which God created us. We are created for God’s praise, not for our own pleasure (Isa 43:7,21).
Remember this; we are not our own. We have not comprehended this and because we have not understood, we are living a life devoid of the presence and glory of God. We only visit God when we are in some sort of a crisis.
Hungering after God is the rst step in creating a bedchamber for ourselves. Hungering for God really has three components.
1. A thirst for the Presence of God.
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?Psalms 42:1-2
2. A thirst for God’s Glory.
1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.Psalms 63:1-2
The Presence of God is different from the Glory of God, and both are different from the manifest Presence of God. They are each different levels of the Presence and the Glory of God.
3. A thirst to abide permanently in the House of God.
1 How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young — Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. SelahPsalms 84: 1-4
If you do not come to this place of hungering and thirsting, you will never come to the place of God’s habitation in you with His glory and His presence. You may only experience a visitation. These are two very different things – visitation and habitation. A visitation is a temporary visit. You visit God and He visits you. That’s all. A habitation is creating a dwelling place by regularly and consistently visiting with God. You come and dwell in God and He dwells in you.
When I rst began to taste and see how good God is, it created within me an insatiable passion. One of the reasons that I spice my writings with my spiritual experiences is not to boast how great a spiritual person I am but to provoke you to jealousy so that you will deeply hunger for God and say, “I too must have this same experience and much more.”
I was praying every day and every night, “Lord, I want to see you, Lord I want to hear your voice.” During every minute of privacy I would nd a quiet place somewhere that I could drop to my knees and pour my heart out to God. I would say to Him, “If I don’t see You, I die. What is the use of living in this world if I can’t see Your face? What is the use of living in this world if I can’t hear Your voice? How can I call myself a child of God? What child is there who does not know his Father’s face?” This is how I used to pray every day.
Many months passed by as I prayed this every day. On September 24, 1983, as I was waiting on the Lord, my spiritual eyes were opened and I saw my rst vision ever – it was of the Lord Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. This vision lasted for twenty minutes. I saw how the Lord agonized as He was hanging on the cross. I saw it from different angles – right, left, front, back, top and bottom. From every angle I saw how the Lord Jesus Christ truly suffered and agonized on the cross.
At that moment, it seemed as if a dam in my eyes burst and tears ran down from my eyes like rivers. I did not know why I was crying; I had no control over it and the tears owed like rivers for twenty minutes. From that day onward, my spiritual eyes were permanently opened. But I was not satis ed with even that experience. I hungered for more.
I said, “This is not enough, Lord because I still have not seen you.” I only saw visions, and when I prayed for people I would see things about their lives in symbolic form with the meaning revealed to me. Still, I was not satis ed. I would get up at 2 a.m. every day and pray till 6 a.m. I did this every day when I was a high school teacher back in 1982, before I entered into full-time ministry in 1983.
Every day I would pray the same prayer: “Lord Jesus, I want to see you. I want to see You. It is meaningless to live in this world if I don’t see Your face.” Every day I prayed this. After having my spiritual eyes opened, the hunger intensi ed. It was not satisfied.
You must always have an unsatis ed hunger. The day you feel satis ed, you become lukewarm.
You must always feel unsatis ed. Never ever feel satis ed. Heaven is limitless. There are many greater things in heaven and there are many worlds out there in the universe which are still to be discovered. There are many things that go on in other planets in the universe. Don’t think it’s all just dust. These places are more real than even what NASA can imagine.
I kept on praying. Every day, at the end of my prayer session, when I didn’t receive what I was praying for, I would say to myself, “Maybe today the Lord Jesus is busy and He will come tomorrow. Perhaps He had to visit someone else so He will come tomorrow.” Every day I would wait for him and continue to expect Him to come, if not today then perhaps the next day.
One morning at about 5 a.m. in the later part of September 1983, after I had nished praying, I decided to lie down for a little while before getting ready to go to school. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I heard a loud sound booming from the four corners of my bedroom. It was as if gigantic speakers were put in the four corners of my bedroom. A voice, so melodious and mixed with the sound of many waters and music, spoke. It was like all three sounds were mixed as one yet all three could be heard distinctly (cp. Rev 1:10,15).
I was graced by the mercies of God to audibly hear – loud and clear – the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ speak to me. He spoke to me, a person not worthy of His manifold grace, for fifteen minutes about the ministry that I would be doing for Him. This encounter greatly encouraged me and that experience permanently opened my ears to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ. But I was not satis ed because I still had not seen my Father’s face. Something was still missing. I kept asking, “How can I be your child if I still do not know my Father’s face?”
Lord, Show me Your Face
It is a great privilege and honor to see the Lord Jesus Christ up in heaven. It is wonderful to see Him who gave His life for us. But it is also a great and noble honor to be able to see the Father – to see His face while we are still living on earth. So I kept praying for this favor and grace every day.
Two months later, in November of 1983, I was praying in my room over hundreds of letters from people who had written for prayer. I told my colleague that no one should knock on my door while I was praying. No matter how urgent the matter, they should never, ever knock on my door until I come out from prayer.
I entered into my prayer closet at 10 a.m. and spent some time worshipping the Lord. After that, I spent about three hours reading the Word of God. Then I took these three hundred letters to pray for them. As I was about to begin prayer I felt and heard the sound of someone turning the doorknob. I thought to myself, “Who would open the door?”
Just as soon as this thought went through my mind, the door opened and there stood the Lord Jesus Christ. I was stunned! He stood about six feet tall and He wore a beautiful royal blue robe. He stood there at the door. I just looked at Him, staring. He closed the door and walked towards me. His robe owed the way our clothes ow around our body when we move. It was a real and tangible experience. He came and stood beside me, and I was still stunned.
I just stared at His face for a long time, not knowing what to say. I gazed upon the beauty of His face. He stood beside me and then He knelt down and said, “I have come to pray with you.” That was a big shock to me. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords knelt down beside me – mere dust –and wanted to pray together with me! When the Lord said that He had come to pray, instantly, the Holy Spirit brought a scripture to my mind: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).
I was still too stunned to say anything, but the Lord Jesus looked at me with a love as tender as a mother’s, in fact, many times more so, and said, “Let us now pray for all these needs. Put your hands on these letters” (cf. Isa 51:22; Jer 50:34). Usually, I would read each letter to the Lord and then pray over them. But the Lord said, “Just lay your hands on the letters.” When I did, He then placed His hands on top of mine and said, “Now let us pray.” It was then that I saw His face at close range. The Lord Jesus has beautiful sea-blue eyes. When you look into His eyes you see transparent pools lled with liquid love. And, oh yes, He has beautiful rosy-red cheeks. His golden brown hair rested on His shoulders. He also has a high forehead. Indeed the Lord was beautiful beyond description!
The Lord lifted up His face and began to pray – groaning, sobbing and sighing – all the while with His face lifted heavenwards. His tears owed like rivers. No words came out of His mouth, just sobbing. When I saw that, I understood what the Scripture meant: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26-28).
From the innermost part of His belly, the Lord groaned for the rst person’s request. The Lord Jesus Christ treats every person’s prayer as if you were the only person in this whole world and no one else existed. When He had nished the rst prayer, He told me how to reply to the person. We went through all the three hundred letters, one by one. Not a collective prayer, but one by one – all three hundred. And He gave me three hundred replies for the three hundred people.
When we were finished, He stood up, put His hands on my head and blessed me. Then He left the same way He had entered. From that day onward, my spiritual eyes were opened. Every time I close my eyes to pray, I see the Lord Jesus Christ standing by my side (cp. Ps 16:8). This is a great spiritual grace the Lord has favored me with.
After I reached this level, I was not satisfied either. There rose up another hunger in me. Now I wanted to see Heaven. I began to pray every day like the Psalmist: “How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the Lord; My heart and my esh cry out for the living God” (Ps 84:1-2). I wanted to see my Father’s house. So I prayed every day, “Father where is Your house? You came to My house, now where is Your house?”
The second week of March 1984, as I was praying, an Angelic Being visited me in the Spirit and said, “Not very long from now the Father will answer your prayer.” Somehow in my spirit I knew it was about my desire to see heaven. I was so happy because I now had a sure promise. I waited patiently and prayed, even more earnestly after this word.
On March 24 1984, I got up as usual to pray at 3 a.m. I bowed my head to wait on the Lord. Suddenly, in an instant, I found myself in a huge green park. It was so beautiful! I wondered where I was. One moment I was in my very small bedroom and the next in an enormous expanse with all kinds of wonderful trees, benches and arches. I did not know that I was in Paradise until two very large seven-feet tall angels came up to meet me and said, “Welcome.” I looked into their faces and I will never forget their smile – beautiful feminine smiles. Angels do not look male or female as far as the shape of their bodies. But their faces have different appearances. Some of them look feminine and many of them look masculine.
The elder of the two said to me, “Come,” and they brought me to a place in Paradise where there are little children. Babies who die go there. When children are aborted, none are lost. When a woman suffers a stillbirth or has a miscarriage, none of the babies are lost. Every life is safely preserved in Heaven. The Lord Jesus said that their angels are always beholding the face of His Father (Matt 18:10). So how can any be lost? The moment that they have life, an angel is appointed to look after each baby. These feminine angels like the ones I saw take care of each baby and they oversee each baby’s growth, their education and their training. The children attend school, but not like we do.
That was my first visit to Heaven, but still I would not be satis ed. Knowing there was more, how could I remain satis ed? I wanted to see more; I wanted to see far greater things. Likewise, you too should hunger and thirst after righteousness – the things of God. Don’t be satisfied.
When do we hunger and thirst in our everyday lives? You will only hunger when your stomach is empty. Then you hunger. In the same way, you will only hunger and thirst for the things of God when you lose the love for the things of this world.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.
17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
1 JOHN 2:15-17
When you lose your love for the things of this world, then, and only then, will a true hunger for spiritual things be born within you. Unless and until you lose your satisfaction in the things of the world, you cannot have real hunger. It won’t come. Instead of real hunger, you will only have mere curiosity. God doesn’t satisfy curiosities.
Please remember this: God does not satisfy curiosity or wishful thinking. Most believers say something like: “I wish I could see Jesus.” Have you said something similar? They are wishful believers. They think God is like a wishing well into which you throw a penny and make a wish. There are no fairy godmothers in heaven who will wave their magic wand to grant your wishes. They doesn’t exist. But there is a God who hears prayer (Ps 65:2). And God answers the prayers of the hungry ones.
Don’t be satisfied with the little blessings that you get from God. Look at these Scriptures from the Song of Solomon.
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
5 Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.
6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.
The bride became satisfied by the things that she saw and the things of which she partook in the banqueting house. The banqueting house is not the bridegroom’s bedchamber. Note this well. The banqueting house, the hall of reception, is not the bridegroom’s bedchamber. Observe what the bride said next.
7 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.
What does this Scripture tell us? The bride became satis ed with the mundane and earthly things that she experienced. And until she loses that satisfaction, the bridegroom waits. He will not disturb her. He waits patiently until she grows tired of worldly satisfaction. Then, a dissatisfaction will arise from within her. A banqueting house will no longer be enough for her. She will look eagerly – longingly – for the bedchamber. This is what the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Himself too, waits for patiently.
So don’t be satisfied. Keep hungering and thirsting and being dissatisfied. Real dissatisfaction begins when you lose the love for and the satisfaction with the things of this world. That is when real hunger for God begins, and when it does begin, you will develop a deep cry from your soul unto God.
Draw Me or I die
4 Draw me away! We will run after you. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine. Rightly do they love you.
The bride cries, “Draw me.” It is a cry that comes from the innermost being. Draw me or else I will die if you don’t draw me – that was her cry. Unless and until God draws you to Himself, you cannot draw near unto Him (Jn 6:44).
Just as the rst work of redemption was imputed to us and implanted into our spirits, likewise, the first drop of hunger must come from heaven. One drop is all that is needed. Once you receive that one drop you must learn to develop it until it becomes a owing river inside of you. “Draw me!” – from her innermost being the Shulamite kept crying.
Unless the Father God draws you to Himself you cannot come to the Lord Jesus Christ. So let your passionate cry be: “Draw me, Lord. Draw me to Yourself; draw me to Your bosom. Draw me to Your heart; draw me into Your bedchamber.” Pour your heart out before Him and sincerely cry out to Him.
When you cry out to God in this manner, the Lord Jesus will reach His hand inside of you and take away your stony heart and give you a heart of esh that will long after him and thirst after him (Ezek 37:26-27). As the deer panting for the streams of water, let your soul continually long after the Bridegroom – the Lover of your soul (Ps 42:1).
Seek with all your Heart
Seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. We can learn the principle of crying out to God in hunger from the Shulamite. We cannot follow or duplicate methods and formulas but we can follow principles.
1 By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him.
2 “I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought him, but I did not find him.
3 The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?”
The two recurring phrases in these Scriptures are, him whom my soul loves and I sought him. These are strong action words. Seek the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul. Not just with your mind. Not with intellectual knowledge. Not just a cursory mention: “Lord, I need you.” It is the absolute desire of the Lord Jesus Christ for everyone to come into His bedchamber. The door is open. Many choose not to go in. Only very few choose to go in. Why is this?
Many are not willing to pay the price; they want an easy way out. Broad is the way that leads to destruction and narrow is the gate that leads to life (Matt 7:14). If you are not willing to pay the price, if you are not willing to crucify the esh, if you are not willing to die, then forget about this life of an intimate relationship with the Lord God. Forget about being His Bride. Be content to be just a member of the larger body of Christ. Just be content, because the other choice – to be His Bride – is costly.
The closer you choose to walk with the Lord, the narrower the road becomes. Finally, it is so narrow that it is like walking on a thread. Only those with clean hands, clean minds, clean feet, and a pure heart will walk that tiny, narrow road (Ps 15). Seek Him with all your heart. Not just your lips.