2020 has had a ROUGH go of it thus far. There is a lot to say about the suffering happening around the planet, but I don’t want to say any of it. Not today and not in this medium. Instead, I thought I would share the only realization that is getting me through this time. God (the creator of the universe, the Everlasting, the I AM) calls me His child and wants intimacy with me.
The longer I have walked with Jesus, the more and more I have realized there is nothing as important than intimacy with Jesus. It is a simple truth but one we effectively overlook every day. When we struggle to “make time” to read His Word, when we neglect to pray until we have exhausted all other options, when we treat the people God loves like burdens instead of the beloved… Here we admit that we treasure many things more than we treasure our relationship with God.
Let’s identify what we love more than Jesus and call it like it is. I often value my comfort, my reputation, and my earthly relationships more than my relationship with God. I see this most clearly in my thought life. People say, “Show me where you spend your money, and I’ll show you what you value.” That’s definitely true, but I’d add, “Show me where your thoughts are and I’ll show you what you cherish.” If I look at the totality of my thought life, I am embarrassingly aware that I cherish myself (my thoughts, my feelings, my wants) more than I cherish God OFTEN. When I put it into words, I see the insanity of this thinking clearly. The problem is, we don’t normally put it into words. We walk through our days spending our time, money, and devotion chasing things that will (at best) only temporarily satisfy us.
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.C.S. Lewis
What is intimacy? The Oxford English dictionary defines it as “close familiarity; closeness.” This is true, but intimacy with God is deeper, truer, and more central to who we are than this definition alludes. God isn’t just ‘familiar’ with who you are. He has the most intimate knowledge of you.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.Psalm 139:2-4,13
He doesn’t stop there. The Lord doesn’t just know you intimately. He knows you and still loves and pursues you. He doesn’t stop there either. He invites you to know Him also. Jesus moved mountains and sacrificed more than we will ever know so we would have the opportunity to know Him. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
The struggles of the day are real and ever-present. We are meant to be the light, the comforters, and the peacemakers in this world. This doesn’t mean we only focus on the darkness. That life is frustrating, hopeless, and sorrowful. Instead, we are called to focus on the One who IS the answer to the issues and questions we face . We are called to deeper intimacy with a God who wants real, sweet, heart- changing relationships with each and every one of us.
If you feel unseen or unheard, go to Jesus! He promises you that He not only sees and knows you, but He cares very much about what you are going through.
If you are struggling to feel compassion for others or struggling to relate to problems of people who aren’t like you, go to Jesus! The closer we are to Him, the more we love what He loves and the more we hate what He hates.
If you are struggling to continue fighting when it would be easier to give up, go to Jesus! He is our strength. All of it.
Friends, I am not talking about completing your 20 minutes of devotional time so that you can check a box for the day. I am talking about real intimacy. I’m talking about relationship built over time and vulnerability. Take the time to delight in the Lord. When it feels hard to delight in the Lord, take that to Him too! When you don’t see His goodness, ask the hard questions and take the time to listen to His responses. Do the hard work of a long obedience in the same direction. The Lord LOVES you. Oh, how He loves you! He is jealous for your devotion and affection.
And He deserves them.