Last night I closed a meeting with the Eastside Church in Denton, Texas. At their request, I spoke on a series called, “Experiencing Intimacy with God.” The lessons were well received by the brethren as well as the guests who attended. However, I may have received the greatest benefit of all by visiting again this vital theme and reflecting on my personal relationship with the Lord.
I know using the word “intimacy” gives some folks a slightly uneasy feeling when talking about God. We often use the word referring to a romantic relationship between a husband and wife. Yet, the word means “a close, familiar, loving relationship with another person.”
Intimacy speaks of closeness. Communion. Commonality Familiarity. Friendship. Warmth. And affection.
These Bible verses all speak of the need for a close relationship with our God.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas 4:8).
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near” (Isa 55:6),
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Ps 34:8)
Modern religious writers have described our desire to enjoy a relationship with God in various ways. Mike Cope calls it “holy hunger.” Martin DeHann refers to it as a “radical reliance.” Joe Beam speaks of it as a “craving.” And my friend Dee Bowman often describes it as “divine association.”
The challenge Christians often face in developing this relationship is described by John Eldredge this way. “Communion with God is replaced by activity for God.” To overcome this barrier Eldredge encourages us to think of our relationship as a “Sacred Romance.” If this sounds a little weird, consider the words of David in Psalm 63.
“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you…On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me”
No wonder David is called “a man after God’s own heart.” David was in love with the Lord. Just casual perusal of the Psalms impresses us with David’s longing for spiritual intimacy with God. Although Bible characters often encountered a more direct communication with the Lord, we can “draw near to God” as we learn of Him through the “Book of nature” and the “Book of Revelation,” the Bible.
God desires for His people to seek Him. To come to Him. To commune with Him. To communicate with Him. To enjoy fellowship with Him. In fact, Paul pictures God as calling us to leave behind the darkness of sin, and the fellowship of the world, and to come to Him. He declares that He will be our Father. And that we can be his children–His sons and daughters(2 Cor. 6:17-18).
Part of the challenge of a close communion with God may lie in our genuine desire and effort to develop our relationship with God. In his book, One Holy Hunger, Mike Cope writes, “When our vision of God diminishes or fails to grow, Christianity becomes a tame, drab, lukewarm, safe religion that fits comfortably into our malnourished world view.” Could it be that we want to live as we please, asking for divine favor, and neglect to “draw near to the heart of God?”
Our attitude needs to be that of Asaph, the Psalmist, who penned, “But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works” (Ps 73:28).
As we assemble on the Lord’s day to sing, pray, listen to the Word, and enjoy fellowship, let us draw near to the heart of God, and worship with awe and reverence “in the spirit of holiness.”
When we leave the assembly may we seek to walk in His way in our work. Our family life. And our social relationships. Instead of trying to squeeze God into what we already feel, believe or practice, we need to draw near to God. Come to know His heart. His Word. His Plan for our lives.
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Ps 145:18).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman