By Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married for 41 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling, and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 40 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

    Bats Are Not Blind

    Wednesday, June 05, 2024

    Let me tell you about my Grandpa Cook. Grandpa had very little formal education. He raised five kids on a hillside farm and was a Sawyer on a sawmill. Everyone in our county who knew Jack Cook knew that a handshake was like a contract. It didn’t matter if Grandpa lost money on the horse trade, he had given his word, and the deal was closed. Grandpa has been dead for 40+ years. If he were alive today and I told him he was a man of integrity he may not have known what that word meant, but he lived a life of integrity every day.

    I remember spending the night with Grandma and Grandpa when I was about 7 years old. Grandma milked the cows while Grandpa fed the other livestock. Grandpa and I were walking up to the feedlot and bats started flying out from the barn loft. I started ducking around and just before I bolted and ran, Grandpa put one of his huge hands on my shoulder and said, “Boy, don’t pay any attention to those bats. They are blind. They are not going to bother you.” Well, that settled it. Bats are blind because Grandpa Cook said they were.

    We lived in the country, and at dusk, I would be out in the yard playing, and bats would begin flying around. I would head to the house only to hear my dad say, “Son, stay out there and play. Those bats aren’t going to hurt you. They are blind.”

    Fast forward to 5th grade science class, and my teacher had the audacity to tell us that bats are not blind. “What? Who do you think you are anyway? My Grandpa and my dad told me bats are blind. I don’t even like you. You’ve got coffee breath, and you smell bad.” That was a nonverbal conversation taking place in my head. An introvert like me would never verbalize such things, but I sure had some heated conversations in my head.

    The truth of the matter is bats are not blind. Contrary to country legend, they have very good eyesight.

    I have shared this story with hundreds of people over the years and, at the end of the story, I ask this question, “Did my grandpa lie to me?” How would you answer this question, yes or no? ___ Don’t skip over this. Your answer is ____.  Next, did my dad lie to me, yes or no? ____

    Both my grandpa and my dad gave me information based on what they were told verbally and what they believed to be true. But what they told me did not square up with scientific truth. The point I am making is, over the course of a lifetime, people tell us things verbally and nonverbally that don’t square with the Book of Truth, scripture. It is not just the verbal and nonverbals that we tell ourselves but mix in life experiences that don’t line up with the Truth of God’s Word, and the result is we have the perfect formula to believe that “bats are blind.”

    Believing Lies Rather than the Truth

    One of the fallacies of being human is we would rather believe a lie than the truth. This goes all the way back to Adam and Eve, who heard the truth from the very lips of God and chose to believe a lie instead of the truth. Our enemy is called the father of lies and the accuser of the brethren for a reason: he knows what works with us.

    We can’t disregard the profound impact of verbals, nonverbals, life experiences, and messages we hear early in life. They do not square with the truth of what God‘s Word declares. These messages based on the enemy’s lies and accusations had a profound effect on my life. Add in feelings of inferiority and you have a formula for defeat and depression.

    My church background is steeped in legalism. The message I received was that God’s love for me was conditional. If I was doing all the right things, then I could expect God to love me and, if I wasn’t performing and keeping all the rules and regulations (most of them manmade), I could expect God’s chastisement. “For whom the Lord loves he chastens!” I don’t remember being told verbally that God’s love was conditional, but the nonverbals were loud and clear. The performance trap of the enemy was set, and I settled into the lie that the amount and the depths of God’s love were dependent on what I did. The verbals, nonverbals, and life experiences all gave the same message. The problem was the messages were not based on the Truth of God’s Word.

    So, whatever I was told I needed to do for God to love me and not chasten me, I did. No movies, because would you want to be in a movie theater if Jesus were to come back? Your hair can’t touch your ears, you don’t want to look like a hippie, and long hair is a sin. No mixed bathing at the pool or the sinful beach. Cards of any kind are an open door to gambling and, yes, that includes Old Maid. Wire-rim glasses were a “no” because they were too worldly. You cannot support any grocery store that sells beer or alcohol. Every good Christian must read their Bible from Genesis to Revelation every year and be in every church service and at every visitation night. If any of these are not fulfilled, you can expect the chastisement of God!

    For some of you reading this, you are wondering what planet I grew up on, because this couldn’t happen in the real world. Others who are reading this will identify with this quickly and you may even be having flashbacks, or you may still be living in this legalism of doing. I might add, this is not an exhaustive list; the list of “dos” was ongoing. Being a compliant and obedient child and teenager, I submitted to all the “do” and “don’t do” lists because I loved God deeply and wanted Him to love me deeply. I served, but I served out of fear. The verbals, nonverbals, and life experiences were loud and clear. “Doing” for God was far more important than “being a child of God.”

    Over the years, something strange began to happen; they started changing the rules. Now, it is okay to go to a movie theater to watch certain movies; some high-profile pastors and evangelists started wearing their hair over their ears to reach people. It seemed that every rule to show I loved God began to change. The clincher came when the local Kroger store started selling beer, but since it was the major grocery store in town, it was OK to shop there. God will understand. Really? You told me in order for God to love me and not chasten me there are things I must do! The verbals and nonverbals were clear, and I did not misunderstand the message.

    I was believing that “bats are blind.” The very core of my belief system was corrupted by the enemy’s lies. I was not living in the freedom of Truth but in the bondage of the enemy’s lies. Outwardly, I was the good Christian who attempted to do all the right things but, inwardly, I was a mess.

    We don’t like pain and will do anything possible to avoid pain. That is why pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars each year. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The joy of living in truth will be worth the pain of self-examination. I am living proof!

    Question: Have you been believing the enemy’s lies about you? Have you allowed the verbals, nonverbals, and life experiences that don’t square with God’s truth to rob you of the joy of the Lord? Truth always sets us free!

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

    Pin It on Pinterest