Intimacy. That word conjures up many images. A love that is understood that does not require words. A closeness that geographical distance cannot take away. A relationship that deepens with time. My wife and I are near the quarter of a century mark in our marriage. You may laugh, but sometimes in the middle of the night as our bodies shift and change positions, we hold each others hand as we sleep. We did have a belly laugh when our Pastor told our church one Sunday morning that Sea Otters hold hands while they sleep. Why? So they will not drift apart or float away from each other. (www.thedodo.com)
What about spiritual intimacy? Isn’t it fascinating that Creator God, the person Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit desires intimacy with you and I? Rather than quickly suggest what spiritual intimacy looks like, let’s listen to examples of what it is not.
While working with teenagers at a non-profit organization years ago, I met with our adult volunteer leaders regularly. At one meeting, I passed out a photo-copied selection from a devotional. After reading it out loud to the group, an older gentleman looked me in the eyes and said rather emphatically “I never read devotionals. I only read theology books.” I wanted to barf. Instead, I smiled back at him. Then there was the time I took a missionary friend out for supper one night while he was in the states. During the course of our meal, he admitted how difficult the work was in the Middle East. I asked him, “Do you get alone with God?” He said, “I listen to sermons on-line.”
Author Ken Gire helps explain the difference between theology and spiritual intimacy. “Our study of God will not prepare us for the upheavals of life-only our experience of God will do that. Theology, which is the study of God, is largely a bookish endeavor, undertaken from the sequestered safety of a study. It is not an adventure. It is an analysis of the adventure of others. It is one thing to study Mount Everest. It is another thing to scale it.” (The Weathering Grace of God)
So how do you experience intimacy with God? Gire explains, “Everything that happens to us should be brought into a dialogue with God, an honest and ongoing dialogue. No experience should be excluded.” I may be driving down the road and utter Jesus from my lips as a lie enters my psyche like some viral bug. God is our constant companion. Do you tell Him how you feel about your life and all that is going on within it? I cannot fill myself with His truth until I empty my junk. Then, I am ready to hear God’s voice as I read His scriptures. After eating His daily bread, I then lift up the needs of others and myself through conversational prayer. Since God will never let you go, have you…drifted away from Him? Why not reconnect?
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”