Since the creation of man, the desire of God has always been to have a relationship with man. He placed the desire for relationship and fellowship within man. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, He walked and talked with them in the cool of the day. He had fellowship with them. They had an intimate relationship with God.
Webster's defines intimacy as: belonging to or characterizing one's deepest nature; marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity; marked by a warm friendship developing through long association (intimate friends).
The relationship God desires with us is more than us simply having a knowledge of Him it is intimacy that is built, cultivated, and alive. It means having a heart that is one with Him in its desires. Jesus prayed to God, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21).
We believe that in the garden, this oneness existed. But man sinned, and immediately the relationship was changed from that of oneness and intimacy, to fear and dread at the thought of God's presence. Disobedience created a rift in the relationship. Because of his sin, man could no longer come directly to God.
But God... it was the grace of God that sent a Savior to bridge that gap between the sinful human race and a holy God. It is the grace of God that even allows us as humans to grow into intimacy with the Father.
God has amply provided for us to enter into a relationship with Him. In John 15, Jesus gives the picture of a vine and branch, saying "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman" (John 15:1). He goes on in verse 4 to say, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." God is saying to us, "I am near you." He has grafted us into the vine. He is there to nourish us, to feed us and sustain us. His life-giving power is flowing to us.
Another picture found in the Scripture is that of a temple. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" God says to us, "I am within you." In the Old Testament, God dwelt in temples made by the work of men. His presence was always there. People could observe His glory, and worship Him there. Now He comes and dwells in hearts that open to Him.
God also conveys a picture to us when He calls us His bride. God is saying, "I am intimate with you." God loves us. He talks with us. And He patiently waits for us.
Psalm 23 graphically portrays God's shepherd heart. God says to us, "I am devoted to you." He protects us, leads us, provides and cares for us, and lays down His life for us just as a loving shepherd does for his sheep.
God's provisions for us are immeasurable and complete. Why then do we as humans find ourselves distanced from God, in a relationship that lacks intimacy, warmth and oneness?
We want to explore some things that we must lay aside in order to find intimacy with God.
The fast-paced world we live in is not a friend, but rather a foe in our quest for intimacy. The advertising schemes of retailers have a way of keeping people aloof from reality, constantly moving from one raging fad to the next. This places a haze in people's minds as to what is truth and reality, what is quality, and what is inferior. The world wants us to settle for what looks good on the surface. It offers instant wealth and happiness, prestige and position. It is full of fun and exciting things to do. It invites us to be our own God, letting us decide what we believe to be right and wrong. It blurs vision and makes one susceptible to a life filled with regret and remorse. Yes, we must lay aside the world with all its allurements and attractions, and clearly identify what will be a hindrance to experiencing an intimate relationship with God. But is the world our greatest enemy? Probably not.
At the root of the world's philosophies is the mastermind Satan, scheming and devising ways to carry out his evil intentions. He appears in many different forms, some ever so violent and others subtle and deceiving. He tries to make sin look appealing. His ultimate goal is the hearts of men. Once in his grasp, he binds them and lulls them to sleep, making them oblivious to impending doom. We must wield our weapons of warfare and fight against Satan and the works of darkness in order to experience that intimate relationship with God. But is Satan our greatest enemy? Probably not.
We are our greatest enemy. Nothing hinders our relationship with God more than our selfish heart and desires. Our sinful hearts must be broken and washed in Jesus' blood. God plants within us a new heart, and opens the way for our relationship with Him.
Apathy or indifference toward our relationship with God is a sign of a heart that has turned cold toward God and toward spiritual values. It is a heart that obviously will not find intimacy with God. If the desire is not in our hearts, we certainly will not experience it.
We are tearing down instead of building intimacy when we harbor attitudes of bitterness, resentment, or ill will in our hearts toward someone who has wronged us. Our earthly relationships must be free from contention and strife before deep intimacy can be found in our relationship with God.
Our priorities will have a great impact on how intimate we become with God. What are the "big issues" in our lives? What are our values? And where does God fit into the picture? These are questions we must face and analyze. Does my desire to build my financial image come before Kingdom goals? We must crucify attitudes of greed and the lust for power in order to find a oneness with our Father.
Each of us has twenty-four hours of time each day that we will use according to the priorities that we have determined in our hearts, whether consciously or not. How much time do we spend in devotion with God each day? This is so important. Building intimate relationships is a time-consuming endeavor. If our time set aside for personal worship is hurried and easily shortened or ignored, we will most certainly miss the intimacy God desire to have with us. Take time "But I have too much to do" take time. "But I'm doing Kingdom work, won't God understand?" Take time. Nothing can take the place of spending time alone with God, feeding on His Word, and letting Him speak to our hearts.
A noted evangelist of the past once wrote, "Spend much time with Jesus, and you will have much assurance. Spend little time with Jesus, and your faith will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and lack in the joy of the Lord."
Prayer is a way to express our dependence upon God. The carnal man wants control. He wants to feel like he can manage, and everything will work out. Understanding our dependence upon God should draw us to our Father's bosom. Don't forget that in relationships, each must be willing to speak and to listen. Be still, and listen to God speak.
Too often intimacy with God is never achieved because communication with God is reserved for our morning devotions and at church. God's desire is for us to stay near Him throughout each day. We need to learn the value of brief sentence prayers through the day. The six months that an average person spends in a lifetime waiting at traffic lights is an excellent opportunity to communicate with God. The five years spent waiting in various lines can be excellent time to continue your building venture with God. Stay in a frame of mind where the daily happenings turn you to God. "Thank-you God," "Praise the Lord," "Help me Father," should be prayers that ascend often to the throne. Give God every moment. After all, who gave us time?
Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matt 22:37). Jesus didn't leave any room for the love of the world in our hearts. He wants all of our love or none. Our hearts must have an ever-deepening love for God and the things of God. The songwriter put it so beautiful when he wrote, "And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!"
Building intimacy with God will be a life-long endeavor. Indeed, our relationship will live on beyond this life into the glorious future, where we will enjoy the purest and fullest degree of love and intimacy with God. Let us be Enochs who walk with God. Let us be Davids who pant after the living God, the source of our refreshment. Let us be Elijahs who can hear God's still small voice. Let us be Daniels whose prayers ascend morning, noon, and night. Let us follow the example of our Lord who spent the night in prayer with His Father. Let us be those who open when God knocks, so He may enter in and sup with us, and we with Him.
"But it is good for me to draw near to God:" (Psa 73:28).
- North East, PA