Intimacy with God, Part 1: What is Intimacy?

 

grayscale photography of man sitting on grass field

Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

This is one of 5 parts in a series of articles titled “Intimacy with God.” My personal intimacy with God has meant everything to me, so I cannot emphasize enough the power and beauty of drawing near to God in a daily, intimate relationship with Him. I hope you enjoy reading these, and enjoy drawing nearer to our gracious God, because in return He promises to draw near to you (James 4:8).

How do you feel when you hear the phrase “intimacy with God”?

Recently, a small group leader in a biblical healing class asked us this question. Understandably, it was met by some hesitation.

Two years ago, I would have felt the same uneasiness. I felt like there was a certain place a person could reach in their relationship with God, and that I had not arrived there yet. There was a place so deep, so pure, so close, so exciting, so wonderful, and so beautiful to be—and it was with God. I just knew it. So, how was I supposed to get there? Such deep intimacy with God seemed impossible! And too good to be true.

But soon, I learned with great surprise and joy that intimacy with God was true, and not only that, but it was better than I could have ever imagined.

What is intimacy anyway? I’m not asking what the culture’s definition of it is (a one nightstand, perhaps), but what the best kind of intimacy is: being close to God. This kind of intimacy is what our hearts are all longing for, whether we know it or not.

Nevertheless, instead of coming to God, we so often search in empty and barren places, in hopes that mere men or women, fame or money will fill our deepest desires.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word “yada” is used to mean “to know intimately, to understand, to experience.” (If you want to read more about intimacy with God aside from my blog post, check this informative article out.)

This “yada” is a great word to look at in our study of intimacy, because it encapsulates what we are searching for to fill our longings: someone to know us. To really know us. And to still, somehow, love us deeply, passionately, and tenderly, in spite of the dirty things we have ever done or thought.

Interestingly, the word “yada” is used both in Genesis 4:1, “Adam knew Eve,” and the many times David says “know” in Psalm 139, as in verse 1, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” How is it that the same word “yada” is used for two seemingly different topics (Adam and Eve’s sex vs. David’s relationship with God)? Well, in English we have it tricky, because we have only one word for “know.”

In Spanish, for example, there are two different words for “know”: “saber” which means to know about something, like information, and “conocer” which means to really know a person, rather than just know about them. The word “conocer” often refers to knowing or being familiar with a person, rather than a surface level ability to know that, say, the capital of China is Beijing.

In a similar fashion as “conocer”, the Hebrew word “yada” isn’t your typical word for “know.” God doesn’t merely know information about us. He doesn’t simply know that we are smart or clumsy or talented or naïve. While He does know certain things about us at face value, His knowing goes far beyond the facts. He knows our hearts. Our faults. Our shortcomings. Our desires. Our longings. Our hopes. Our fears. Our dreams.

God knows every single part of us. He knows us intimately. From the beginning, He has known all about us. And not only that, but He loves us in spite of our deep failure. Because God knows us and loves so well, He made intimate knowledge of Himself and intimate communication with Him available to us through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus paid His very own life to pull us out of the muddy pit where we have rebelled against God—all so we could come to intimately know God in a personal relationship with Him!

And this is all because God desires deeply for us to come back into relationship with Him. He desires this because knows all about us and loves us anyway. He knows us completely and thoroughly for all that we really are and all that we really do. In Psalm 139, David was well aware of God’s intimate knowledge of himself:

“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”

Wow! God knows us so well. These are only the first six verses of this Psalm. I encourage you to go and read the entire Psalm when you are finished with this post. It is one of my favorite Psalms, because of how close to God it makes me feel. It is so full of God’s intimate knowledge of David, which transfers to that same intimate knowledge He has of us. For example, in verses 17-18, it talks about how God numbers each one of our thoughts and regards them as precious! God is so wild about us that He would be so careful and thoughtful to do a thing like that. He so adores us and is pleased with us! (Can we just appreciate God for a moment? He is pretty sweet. Hallelujah!)

Getting to know a person is a huge part of loving that person. When you meet up with a  new friend or significant other you are dating, you naturally have a desire to get to know them more. The reality that God knows EVERYTHING about us and still hasn’t struck us with lightening bolts is pretty significant.

He is mighty, He is holy, He is just, but He is also faithful, merciful, and full of steadfast love. He desires good for us. And it is plain for Him to see that, in all honesty, getting to know Him intimately is what will do us the most good in our lives. This isn’t pride or arrogance, this is pure, honest, love. It would be selfish for Him to withhold knowledge of Himself from us, just like it would be selfish for a friend to ignore us and not keep us updated on how they are doing—how they are really doing. He allows us to get to know Him by filling us with the Holy Spirit, once we put our trust in His perfect Son, Jesus, for our salvation. He reveals to us the deep things about Himself through His Spirit inside of us!

“However, as it is written:
‘What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’ —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

So, the Holy Spirit helps us get to know God in a deep, intimate way!

And through His Spirit, we have the ability to understand God’s primary source of knowledge about Himself: His Word! Always, always, always, go to His Word, the Bible as your safe place to get to know God with full certainty that everything in it is true. Unlike every other book in the world, the Bible has not one trace of a lie in it. God has provided His Word so we can stand our ground on what He says is true! (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible is powerful and God-breathed, but as we read it we must keep in mind that it is only a way of getting to know God! Getting to know God in a personal way goes much deeper than simply reading off a few verses and then rushing off to work or school. We need to not merely listen to the truth, but do what it says (James 1:22). And not only that, but we need to get to know the Truth as it really is, a person (Jesus), and get to know Him intimately and personally! Only then can we do what His Word says out of love for Him, and not out of false religion.

The truth is, you don’t get your life from the Bible, you get your life from Jesus! Here Jesus says in John 5:39-40: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

Come to Jesus to have life! Get to know Him in a personal way, through reading and soaking in His Word, and through constant, faith-filled prayer.

For me, having intimacy with God has changed everything about my life for the better. I have always felt a deep need inside me to be loved. To be valued. Cherished. Adored. Delighted in. Important and special to someone. I have often felt that, and always thought, unconsciously, that some man out there would be able to fulfill that longing in my heart, someday.

Lately I have been pondering it more. No matter what “perfect” fantasy I have of the man I marry (when I am not taking my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ as it says to in 2 Cor. 10:5), the Only one who can truly make that fantasy become a reality is God Himself. He doesn’t romance our hormones; He romances our heart and soul, our entire beings!

Get beyond the ideas of sex and romance culture imposes on us and listen to the heart of God, to the dream that He allows for us to come true: being intimately known and loved by Him, and given the offer to intimately know and love Him in return.

This is SO much better than earthly romance! Really. I have experienced it myself, and it is soooo true! Being laid bare before God can at first seem intimidating, frightening, and far too vulnerable, but you will soon find that your vulnerability leads to deeper trust in Him, because as it turns out, God doesn’t hurt us when we are painfully honest with Him. Instead, He leads us patiently out of our sin and into paths of life, joy, and peace, one step at a time.

I feel the Spirit weighing these words on my heart, so once again, I will say, with greatest sincerity and tenderness, Beloved: God doesn’t hurt you. He doesn’t hurt you in your honest, raw, naked moment. He knows all about you, but He doesn’t hurt you. Unlike every other human relationship, we can get close to God without Him hurting us with words or deeds at any moment. And not only is it in His entire nature to never hurt you, His child, but He graciously covers you with the blood of Jesus and fully accepts you into His family. Trust in the good Father, who wants nothing but to lavish good things on you! (Matthew 7:11)

I have come to a point where I often (not always) feel intimate with God. I am sensitive to His Spirit, and I pray to Him often. I have moments of deep peace and joy, where God lifts my burdens and gives rest to my weary soul. I have moments where God speaks to me about a specific area of my life that I need to bring to His loving gaze for mending and repair. I have moments where God reveals His truth to me in a powerful way that greatly encourages my heart.

I know God, and I love Him, and somehow He accepts me, in spite of my imperfections. Somehow He speaks to me and encourages me and helps me. Somehow He delights in me, and there are moments where I am deeply aware of His delight, and filled with His love. I am far from perfect, but God cleanses me daily through Jesus’ blood, allowing me to have unbridled, deep intimacy with Him.

It is a wonder to me that I have come this far in intimacy with Him, and yet it is not overly surprising, considering that I have often asked God for more of Himself. He is always willing and gracious to answer prayers like that, so I encourage you: press into God, and ask for more of Him in your life! You won’t be sorry you did, and I mean that with all my heart! He wants your whole heart and your full attention, Beloved. And He is so, soooo worth it!

Because I have experienced the beauty and power of being intimate with God, I want others to experience intimacy with Him, too. No longer am I bound by chains of perfectionism. It’s not about me anymore. It’s all about Him! I want others to have this, too.

Intimacy with God changes everything. Because I am in relationship with Him, I want nothing more than to know Him, to love Him, and to do what He says. And because I am in relationship with Him, I can do what He says. I have the ability! After all, I am not relying on my own ability anymore, but on His enabling Spirit that works within me day by day, by His grace alone! Praise God!!! Thank you, Jesus!!! Amen.

OK, maybe you get the idea by this time: developing an intimate relationship with God is super important. And not only it is important, it is life-changing. The God of the universe “yadas” (intimately knows) you, and now it’s time for you to “yada” Him.

So, now you might be wondering, how do I do that? How do I begin to have intimacy with God?

Well, come back next week to find out! Because this is such an important topic, I have split this topic into 5 sections: “What is Intimacy?,” “Let God Break Down Your Defenses”, “Be Totally and Completely Honest with Him”, “Want Him More than Anything”, “How to Abide, Remain, and Rest in Him At All Times.” I might change things up once I start writing, but this is what it’s looking like at least for now.

Today, begin to trust Him. Begin to get to know Him. Begin to love Him like never before. Today is the day to draw near to God, to go deeper than you ever have before! He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you with hopeful anticipation. He is waiting for you to begin your adventure and romance with Him and to continue with Him for a lifetime, and even afterwards, into all eternity.

I hope you enjoy this song, and have a Spirit-filled, intimate day with the Lord!

This Light

blur bokeh bright burnt

Photo by john paul tyrone fernandez on Pexels.com

I’m not a friend of the darkness
I’m a friend of the Light
And not only that
But I follow the Light wherever it goes.

I’m not a lover of darkness
I’m a lover of Light
And not only that
But I love all the goodness that the Light shows.

I’m not a servant of darkness
I‘m a servant of the light
And not only that
But I serve the Light because it’s all I know.

What is the Light?
The Light is life
It’s peace and joy and truth and hope
It’s grace; it’s love
It’s never letting you go
It’s exposing the darkness
So you can find freedom and growth.

This Light is Jesus
This Light is in you
This Light is Him who wipes sin from you
He is no kin to darkness
All that has to leave
Because here with Jesus
I am finally free.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46

A Message To My Brothers In Christ

 

gray rock

Photo by Wesley Eland on Pexels.com

I want to take a moment to address you, men.
The strong ones;
The brave ones.
I want to address you as my brothers in Christ.
I plead with you on behalf of the girls in my life:
Stop for a moment,
And listen.

Too many of us have bad opinions of you,
And perhaps many of us have a right to;
You have a responsibility as men to take care of our hearts,
But too often you play or you steal or your tear us apart;
Too often you treat us just as you view us—as objects to take pleasure in
Or simply persons to ignore.
And while that sounds harsh, I want to set for you a higher standard,
To encourage you to be the men that God will first and foremost admire.

We may not always admit it to you,
But we’re weak—
Just as you may not always admit to us.
We may not always say it, but when you open the door wide for us our soul smiles wider;
When you take the time to just listen to us,
We admire your endeavor to honor us;
And when you ask us how we’re doing,
The whole world seems all right again.

Men, we might act casual, but you are important to us.
We often look up to you hoping we can trust,
Hoping we can trust you to be truly good men.
Don’t ignore the power of sensitivity—
To us, it’s the highest form of masculinity.
Be interested in who we truly are inside, not merely what we are on the outside;
And while this may be a lot to ask,
View us as your sisters in Christ—good friends whom you will never marry;
And when we see the deep respect you carry,
Your selflessness will teach us more of God and His glory.

Men, don’t settle for less than your best;
We challenge you to be truly great men.
Dare yourselves to be the men you want to be;
Dare yourselves to be good, strong, and free.
Don’t compare yourselves to those around you;
Compare yourselves to Christ who is in you,
And you always see that you can be something more.

“[Treat] younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” — 1 Timothy 5:2b

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” — 1 Peter 3:7

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Thank you for reading, and look out for my next post, A Message to My Sisters in Christ!

My Childhood Best Friend

black and white photo of holding hands

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Don’t be bitter.
Even if your friend walked away
As you stood with your hand reaching out
And your voice about to shout,
Don’t be bitter.

These words I tell myself
Whenever I think of her.
I’ve mourned for her as I mourned for my dog when he went away,
But it’s even worse.
I can’t be bitter.

We planned to be best friends forever,
Because as children we couldn’t imagine being without each other.
We shared laughs, we shared dreams;
There wasn’t much of a thing she didn’t know about me.

She won my heart from the start with her wild game plans;
She knew how to have fun like no one else I’ve ever met.
And when the day was over, and our laughter died,
We talked of deep things, the kind that make you cry.

I’d always ask her what she wanted to do,
She’d say, “How about this?”
And I’d let her choose.
We poured out our hearts like cement,
And I don’t know about hers,
But mine’s been stuck since.
Our sisterly love was like nothing I’d ever known;
She was my hero, she was my home.

When she drifted away, I felt rejected;
I felt like a worm being dissected,
Unworthy and small.
I guessed our personalities weren’t right for each other at all.

I blamed her for things that weren’t really her fault;
I opened my wounds and poured out the salt.
And when I finally gave up trying to make her be my friend again,
That’s really when I looked up from the ground,
And God got my attention.

He told me I was clinging to a plant that would die;
He told me I was missing out on His Son who was crucified.
He grabbed hold of my shoulders and looked me in the face, said: “Now you’re done with your best friend being your idol in My place.”

I want vs. I have

team-motivation-teamwork-together-53958.jpeg

With God, relationships with Him and others are an outpouring of His love. ❤

I want a connection

My mind is awake
I want a deep conversation
From a guy or a girl—
Either one, I don’t care.

I just want real interaction
All I hear is
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
But that’s it and I’m drowning
Yearning for a connection
I just want a connection.

The human connection
That grows a soul
The touching a heart
The filling a hole
Deep inside me.
I want that.

We hide in the dark
But we want the light
Friendship means nothing
If we don’t really know
One another
If we think we know them
but never feel that we need each other.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of smiles and hugs and politeness
I want to understand you
I really do.

I want, I want,
This selfishness wired inside me
It’s taking control; it’s becoming a desire
I can’t withhold.

I want love to bind us
Because without love,
We’re only a pair
Of separate individuals
Yearning for something more.

 

I have a connection

My heart is awake
In a deep conversation
With my Savior and Lord
He’s the One who cares.

This is real interaction
Not just
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
If that was it I’d be drowning
Yearning for a connection—
But I have a connection.

The supernatural connection
As He grows my soul,
Touches my heart,
And fills a hole
Deep inside me.
He does that.

When I hide in the dark
He guides me to His light
Our relationship with God means nothing
If we don’t really know Him
If we think we know Him
But never feel that we need Him.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of prayers and songs and kindness
I want to understand Him
I really do.

I want, I want
This desire fires inside me
It’s taking control; it’s breaking the boundaries
Of my restricted soul.

His love binds us
Because without love
We’re detached from our Creator
Yearning for something more.

Never Alone

Dearest friends,
Don’t look at me as too quiet to care,
Too innocent to know,
Or too happy to sympathize.
I am here to laugh with you on the good days,
But I am also here to help you on the bad.
If you don’t feel comfortable to talk to me about the bad,
It makes me sad.
Maybe I don’t know how to be a friend to you,
Maybe I’m learning.
But I hope I can be better and stronger and kinder towards you,
Because each moment with you is precious to me;
Each second gives me a chance to smile
Or to ask you what’s wrong.
I am not loud or especially smart or particularly good at comforting you,
But I care
I know
And I sympathize.
Because God is so much more than loneliness;
He is the light in the darkness,
And He is here for you.
I started this poem pleading you to spill out your troubles
To me,
And that burden I would gladly bear
If it could set you free.
But I should urge you to first spill them in the gracious hands of God,
Who takes them and kills them
With His Shepherd’s rod.
Just as His Son trampled the serpent to death,
So His presence can now be our place of rest.
He is our Father
Who sent His Son to die in our place,
So you would have eternal comfort and grace.
He is your Father.
I am your sister.
The church is your family.
Even if you’re far from home,
We are here for you, so you never have to be alone,
And neither do I.
Together we can endure the storms
That slay our hearts
And rise up into the light
Whole again,
And stronger,
With a friendship that
Will never die.

“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 1 Cor. 1:3-4 (NIV)

An Excerpt from The Thrall’s Sword

Here’s the excerpt, as promised!

The following day, he caught me crying as we hiked up a cliff.
“Sigrid, are ye doin’ all right?” he said from behind me.
I brushed back tears. “I’m doing wonderful,” I said as I stumbled over a protruding rock. Every memory of Mum lay trapped in the center of my mind. Today the thought of her had entered my head when I had picked her favorite flowers, lavender primroses, and now I could not push my grief out of my mind.
I kept walking, faster now, trying to draw closer to Lars who strode through the thick pines in the distance, energized by his morning breakfast. The last thing I wanted was this pathetic boy discovering my own weakness.
“Did ye find those purple flowers ye was lookin’ for?”
“It doesn’t matter. You can’t eat them, so there’s no point in having them.”
The truth was, I’d looked everywhere for them, but couldn’t find them. I was as if the gods themselves were ruining everything I tried to do.
“Are ye… are ye not enjoying yerself on this noble adventure of ours?” he asked gently.
I shot a glance at him. “I don’t even know why I came on your ‘noble adventure’ in the first place. To ruin a friendship and become a burden? To defend a country I have no reason to love?”
“Ye didn’t have to—”
“—I didn’t have a choice, really. It was the only way to do it.” I walked faster, but Erik drew alongside me.
“The only way for ye to do what, lass?” he asked, his forehead creased with anxiety.
We stared at each other, motionless, my heart trembling at his gaze. I wanted to cry again, but I withheld my tears. I could never tell him why I was truly going to Ireland. “I… I just want to go home.” Not to Bergen, but to my mother, my real home.
I turned away and hurried to catch up with Lars, feeling Erik’s eyes locked on me the whole way. He would never understand.

And I was beginning to fear I would never be able to go home.

Uncle John’s Mansion

An excerpt from a novel I wrote when I was twelve and thirteen.

The train jolted. She woke up from the pleasant dream. Looking at the train clock, it appeared that several hours had passed by. And outside the window she saw the sun slowly setting in the west. She had slept practically the whole day!

From the window she could see the train was rumbling over a tall bridge that hung over a dazzling canyon.

The train started to sway. Continue reading