God wants to be wanted. Isn’t that like you? Don’t you want to be wanted? What if your desire for intimacy with God is what He’s longing for? I’m recommending your number one goal this year should be to pursue intimacy – with others, and with God. When it comes to intimacy with God, how do you do that?
You might say, “Oh yes! There’s nothing I desire more than Him!” (Psalm 73:25) You treasure moments when you feel a sense of His presence, and you’re hungry for more.
Or the idea of intimacy with God might feel mysterious, even scary. Part of you imagines He’s frustrated or disappointed in you, or maybe He’s out to get you. Why would you want to be close to anyone like that? Would intimacy with God be good if you were to experience it?
Your internal picture of God makes all the difference. That’s why Jesus came to be God with us, to show us what God is really like (Matthew 1:23, John 14:9). In pursuing intimacy with God, first pause and consider how you feel about Him – not what your intellectual left brain “believes” about Him, but what your sensory emotional right brain feels about Him. If that internal picture of God is less than good, acknowledge that and give your brain permission to consider there may be more you can yet learn and experience about God.
Whether your heart sings at the prospect of greater intimacy with God, or you cautiously determine to take just one small step in that direction, how can this become real for you? How do you pursue intimacy with God?
Be With Him
This is where religion tries valiantly and comes up short more often than not. Complying with a list of religious activities or disciplines doesn’t earn you brownie points with God and it doesn’t necessarily change you. Most of the benefits of Bible reading, prayer, attending church, giving, or doing good to others is because they make being with Jesus possible.
The spiritual practices that are the most helpful for you may be different based on your personality. Most important is practicing the presence of God. You can do that washing dishes, teaching children, reading your Bible, driving to work, writing a paper, or creating music. It’s not the activity itself that changes you to become like Jesus; it’s being in His presence.
You become like the One you worship and admire. By beholding we become changed (2 Corinthians 3:18). When Peter and John were hauled in front of the council the Jewish authorities “were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). It was being with Jesus that had changed them.
And it will be being with Jesus that changes you too. It’s not the list of religious activities you do; it’s the time you spend in His presence.
How to be With Him
Many people hear that and think, “Oh, I’ve got to go to church every week.” Or, “I must read my Bible more.” That’s only a small part, if any, of what changes you. You can go to church every week or read your Bible every day and never enter His presence. So how do you do that?
You and I are integrated human beings, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual. All those parts of you must be present to truly be with Jesus in ways that bring transformation. That can look like:
Include your body in the process. Pay attention to what your body is feeling. Nourish your physical senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, even taste, during your time with God. Enjoy experiences in nature that help you sense His presence. Spiritual gatherings that nourish your soul with beauty, music, etc. can also help.
Bring your emotions into His presence. Turning off your emotions can actually block your sense of His presence. What God’s best friends do with their difficult emotions is bring them to God. Speak or write your feelings to God; you might write out a letter to Jesus, imagining you could see Him physically sitting right next to you. Use the Psalms as a starting place for your prayers, perhaps especially the Psalms that express pain, frustration, or sadness. Let your emotions roll out in God’s presence.
Get Still. Silence and stillness are hard to come by in our culture. Distractions are all too readily available. Your brain can get better at this with practice. Start with literally one or two minutes, just being silent in His presence. Listen for His voice. When your mind wanders, just gently keep bringing it back. It’s in still and quiet moments that you become able to hear Him speak to you.
Welcome Him In
You won’t experience lasting transformation through telehealth; God doesn’t work through robotic surgery from a distance. You get to choose to allow Him in. It may feel scary, vulnerable. Intimacy means letting the walls down around your heart. You stop hiding from Him, open the door, and invite Him to enter.
That’s the kind of intimacy with God that He intended intercourse between husband and wife to demonstrate. But don’t get hung up on the object lesson; ponder how deeply you are allowing Him into your inner being. The resistance your soul puts up at that thought is why intimacy gone wrong in your past must be addressed.
For today, imagine your inner being as the rooms in your home. What rooms have you allowed Jesus to fully enter and take up residence in? What rooms do you frantically try to clean up before allowing Him in every now and then? And what rooms have you built walls in front of barricading the door against His entrance?
Let me both encourage and challenge you that intimacy with Him is worth it. He’s patient. But He’ll never be satisfied with anything less than all of you.
Your Turn: Have you learned to pursue intimacy with God? How does your heart feel about that? How will you do that this year? Leave a comment below.
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