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God Is... Approachable

By Jay Cookingham (Soulfari)

Approachable - easy to meet or converse or do business with; "a friendly approachable person"

That definition did not fit my father.

I grew up in an abusive home; my father’s cruelty was part of everyday life. His words and name-calling crushed my spirit, for years the verbal abuse continued, it stunted my emotional growth and I grew callous and hard. When I turned twelve, another darker form of abuse started, my dad began sexually assaulting me. It was all I could handle, I felt ashamed, hurt and betrayed. Somehow, I began to think it all had to be my fault. I turned to drinking and drugs, trying to dull the pain and the guilt I held inside.

This sick pattern continued until I was 17 and able physically to stand up to my father. The physical and sexual abuse stopped but not the verbal cruelty. However, because of the damage done, I was through with caring. One day I made a suicide tape recording, left it in my room, grabbed my hunting knife and went alone into the woods. I found a secluded spot where it would be difficult to find me. After getting high on pot, I put the knife to my wrist, paused and wondered if anyone would miss me. Then out of nowhere I heard a small still voice say “NO.” Quickly putting the knife down I looked around and found no one there, too shaken to continue, I went home and destroyed the tape.

Several months later, in the same woods, my friends and I were having a beer blast. Having already consumed too much alcohol, I raced one of my friends in a drinking contest. I downed 6 beers in a minute and won. Some victory, I then took two steps and fell flat on my face. My wasted friends, thinking I had passed out, picked me up and put me on a cot to sleep it off. However, I was awake, although unable to talk or move. Alone in the cabin I started to feel the life leave my body, first the feet, then the knees, the waist and then my chest. When it got to my chest I heard a familiar still voice. “Is this the way you want it to end?” I knew I was dying and answered, “No Father, no.” Then everything went black.

When I awoke the next morning my mind was clear and I felt sober. I looked at my still asleep friends, packed up my sleeping bag and went home. It was Sunday and I decided to attend church with my neighbors. I wondered what would happen, would people stare and whisper when they saw me walk in? I had been gone for so long. The greater wondering in my heart was directed at Father God. I ran away from His love as hard as I could, blaming Him as a co-conspirator in the suffering I experienced. Would He? Could He, accept me…back? The answer I desperately needed to hear came quickly, for the sermon that day was about the prodigal son. Moved to tears, I answered the call and gave my life back to the Father.

"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (Psalms 145:18)

The Heavenly Father forever changed my life. Unlike my dad, God was understanding, kind, and approachable. For the first time in my life I found the hope and acceptance I longed for. My life was still a mess and yet I found a God who was not only approachable, but was willing to draw close to me. The business at hand was my forgiveness and again He proved Himself.

“Come now, and let us reason together, says Jehovah; though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Many times that is the driving force in coming to my senses, knowing that I can approach my Father with confidence. This helps me move beyond my foolishness to throw away my inheritance and run back to the Father (like the Prodigal Son). Its more than suddenly realizing what is best for me, although that’s not a bad way to start. To me it’s a greater understanding of God’s heart. That loving bond between us draws me back and wakes up the dead part of my heart.

Is God approachable? Yes, time and time again.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

I was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, just about 80 miles north of the Big Apple. My family and I live in Hyde Park, New York, the former home of Franklin Roosevelt, but I didn't let that stop us from living there. Seriously, it's a real nice town, rich with history. My wife Christine and I have been happily married for 28 years and have seven (yes seven) children, five boys and two girls. I am passionate about my relationships, with God and my family, they are the fuel for my creativity and the drive to finish strong.

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Reader Comments (17)

Wow, what a powerful testimony Jay.

Isn't it amazing how having either an absent or abusive father, God shows up and crushes any expectation of a true and worthy Father? This has blessed my spirit and I'm glad that God reached you and turned you into a son, worth loving, worth rescuing. So awesome!

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMoe

Appreciate that Moe! Having a Father who is approachable and loving was a major shift in my heart. I am so blessed that our God is relentless in His love for us!

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham


You bless me. I am so thankful for you and for an approachable God.
His love does not fail.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDusty Rayburn

Oh, Jay. I'm so thankful for our tenacious, loving God. He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Salter

Amen and glory be to God. Thank you for blessing me today Jay.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Tate

Dusty, it was a tremendous rescue by Father God. Thank you my friend!

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

Sarah, that is soooo true! He loves us so much, as we are and yet desires for us to grow into all He has for us. That a Father's love! Bless you Sis!

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

Yes Ryan, all the Glory honor and praise belongs to the Father, who never gave up on His pursuit of my life. Thanks Bro'

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

Jay, I read every word. Slowly. Twice. I was suppose to be doing that writing.

I had no clue. That's a good thing. It's a testimony of how thorough, how radical His grace, mercy, strength. For every future contact will be the recall of this dramatic rescue by the Lord God Himself as He pulled you out of the mire so you could be my friend.

Thanks, God. Thanks, Jay.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGary

You'll likely never know how many people you encouraged today, how many hearts you touched. This i overwhelmingly, Jay, in a good way.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlynn

What a difference God makes in our lives when we submit. This is a precious sharing that will touch many and perhaps give some strength to allow Christ to make this same change in their lives. A "worthy" testimony for others to hear.

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiawa

Thanks Gary...I thought I mentioned my story during one of our online talks...I'm glad He rescued me to be your friend too Bro'!

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

Bless you Glynn...that's my hope and prayer bro'!

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

Thank you Miawa...I do appreciate those kind words. Bless you!

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cookingham

We have so much in common. One of the amazing blessings for me is that, although I became a mean and angry kid, headed towards suicide and/or alcoholic death before the Lord broke into my life when I was just shy of 21, I really never blamed God for any of it. That's rather amazing. Now, it took nearly 10 years after my salvation before I had a wonderful "Heavenly Father" experience that completely lifted a portion of my heart out of fear of Him and He truly became my FATHER. Thanks so much for sharing.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercaryjo

I'm glad you stayed ... and share your gifts.

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterS.Etole

Wow, this literally brought me to chills sitting here at my desk......What a redeeming story and one that many need to hear, thank you so much for sharing your own pain and shining the Light of the Gospel message of love. What a risk you took that Sunday. What a great God we serve! Lori

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLori

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