“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2
In my opinion, intimacy is a really attractive word. Deep down inside, all of us long for meaningful connections that satisfy our souls and chase away the shadows of aloneness. But if we’re not careful, we may be looking for true intimacy in all the wrong places. Thoughts of intimacy often conjure up mental pictures of close encounters of the physical kind or the shallow, shabby offers of alluring lingerie, one-night stands, colognes, video titles, evenings of candlelight and red wine, or voyeuristic exchanges on the Internet. More innocently, your thoughts of intimacy may be about just finding a good friend that can be a soul mate. But even deep friendships can be sometimes fleeting and fickle.
It’s easy to be lured into counterfeit offers of intimacy only to find that they are not what our soul really craves. In fact, every time we dip into these buckets, we eventually come up empty, disappointed, and frequently left with shame and regret. Accept no substitutes! Don’t stop looking until you have found the soul mate that will truly satisfy.
You ask, “Who would that be?” Search no more, the offer of fulfilling intimacy is found in a deepening relationship with God Himself. After all, you were built for intimacy with Him. That’s what Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden until sin blocked access to God. But thankfully, God didn’t give up on His desire for intimacy with you. He stepped in and removed the barrier through the death of His Son so that intimacy with Him could be restored! And now He welcomes you to Himself by saying, “Come near to [me] and [I] will draw near to you” (James 4:8) and “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). He’s wanting and waiting to come in and dine with you!
God is the only One perfectly suited to satisfy and sustain us. The joy of true intimacy is ours as we grow more deeply conscious of, connected to, and confident in God—and Him alone—as our unfailing resource in life.
As in any relationship, intimacy with God has some dynamics that make it grow. We don’t experience His nearness by just telling Him that we love Him, as important as that is. Intimacy is cultivated by drawing near to Him in obedience; by loving what He loves and hating what He hates; by sharing our deepest desires and struggles with Him in prayer; and by expressing our love to Him by acts of loyalty, sacrifice, and service to others. These attitudes and actions all say to God, “I love you!” in clear and compelling ways. Hebrews assures us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Indeed, intimacy with God will reward your spirit with peace, confidence, a sense of direction and purpose, and the blessing of knowing that you are loved, really loved, by the one who promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you!
Intimacy with God can’t be bought at the corner newsstand. Nor can it be purchased at the mall, found on an exotic vacation, or acquired in developing the most impressive of social calendars. When it comes to the joy of intimacy, these things are the small talk of life compared to the deep satisfaction that comes from the privilege of knowing that “in a love that cannot cease, I am His and He is mine!”
- Have you looked to other people and things to satisfy the longings of your heart? If so, in what ways have they fallen short of your expectations? Inevitably they will!
- How would you rate your relationship with God? If a lack of obedience has hindered your intimacy with Him, pray and ask Him to “work in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
- How can you show God a deeper love today?
Replace Complaints with Thanks
November 23 | Bob Christian | Emphasis: Thankfulness
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 thessalonians 5:18
During my junior year at Northwestern University, I learned an important lesson about thankfulness. It was midseason, and we had yet to win a game. Our homecoming game was very close—going back and forth right down to the last seconds. Trailing by 2 with 7 seconds left, we called a timeout on the 17-yard line and sent the field goal unit out for the game-winning field goal. The kick was tipped, however, and it went just wide. Instead of an exhilarating win, we suffered a bitter defeat.
That loss hurt badly. It didn’t seem fair that we never seemed to catch a break. Our chances of winning a single game that year started to look grim. The next week I was sitting in church and started complaining to God about how life was unfair. When I finally stopped, God quietly spoke to me. He asked me how many people would love to be in my shoes? How many would love to have a scholarship to Northwestern? How many would love to start for a Division I team? How many would just love the chance to play football? How many would just love to be able to walk?
Thinking about those questions made me ashamed of complaining. I had a lot to be thankful for. I started approaching each day, each practice, and each game with thankfulness. It didn’t change my circumstances, but it changed me within the circumstances. I ended up working harder and enjoying life more in the midst of a difficult season.