When it came to being close to God, I used to believe He played “keep away” with His presence and I was just subject to His whims. When He wanted us close He’d be there, if not I was just showing up to quiet time to be disappointed. And this is what I believed for a long time. My belief totally affected my faith and thus my reality. I would go into my quiet time not knowing if God would show up. Eventually, after feeling like God flaked on me a couple of times, I would stop showing up. That was easier for me than for my belief in a God, who existed and was supposed to love me but kept disappointing me
My field of study right now is mental health counseling- we study people and relationships. My undergrad degree was the study of people in systems- families, friendships, marriages, and communities. So Jesus used some of the things I learned about relationships and intimacy from school to teach me about my relationship with Him.
So when it comes to intimacy and relationships, sometimes single people idealize marriage as a gift box with all this wonderful stuff in it that they don’t have access to as singles. False. Marriage, like any relationship, comes as an empty box. You determine what goes into it. Like a blank canvas you and the person you are building a relationship with create norms, a culture, and an atmosphere.
Intimacy is an atmosphere and environment that you cultivate and foster and protect. It, therefore, requires investment. If a husband, having been gone all day at work, sits down and delves into ESPN until dinner, chances are trying to connect later might feel forced and awkward. Why? Because if this is his habit, he did not invest before he attempted to make a withdrawal. He did not check in with his wife, ask how her day went, or give her a chance to hear about his day. These are all gestures that say, “Hey, I’m present and you are a priority.”
This principle goes for spiritual intimacy and closeness. If in all of my down time I’m turning to Pinterest, Facebook, and other things, chances are I’m going to feel distant. Not just that- what you put in your ears and before your eyes deeply impacts your soil, your receptivity to the things of God and God himself.
When there is a problem with connecting or feeling close to or interested in God, you’ve got to stop and ask, ‘Is it me?’ We don’t question the Vine, we examine the branch’s connection. We don’t critique the Seed, we examine our soil. Is it dry? Is it rocky? Have we let it become overgrown with weeds?
So what had to change for me? I had to get in the Word and renew my mind to what God said about Himself and choose to believe Him. I had to adjust other beliefs that stood contrary to Truth. God’s heart is good towards me (Eph. 2:4-7). He is a Shield for those that run to Him (Ps.18:30). He is for me, even when others are against me (Ps. 27, Rom. 8).
Jude 21 states that you are charged with keeping yourself anchored in God’s love for you. Because it is always there the only thing that can change is your relation to that Love. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled out of His love for you. Things are going to try to pull you out of that love, agitate your soul, and cast a shadow on your belief. It is your job to stay on it. Do not allow anything to pull you off of it. When you feel like the edges are starting to cool off, stir yourself up. The verse before says, “But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit…” Pray in the Spirit. A personal favorite of mine is spending time interceding for others. But you can dive into worship with a favorite song, instrument, or just your voice. If you dance, write, paint, etc. that can most definitely be an intimate time of worship. Sometimes it may be getting alone with God, getting honest, and taking communion to hit refresh. It’s basically doing what you know to do with renewed vigor and intensity. Not out of works but to be busy about eternal things.
When I say you control your soil, I mean this: when I believed God played keep-away I felt powerless and like the victim of some tyrant who had what I needed and wanted but didn’t care enough to let me freely have or enjoy it. However, that’s not the case. The Holy Spirit and I collaboratively creating and environment of closeness is really on me. He’s always there (John 14:16,26).
It was in that place where I showed up, not questioning if, but choosing to believe that God was there, that I was finally able to connect with Him. I had to develop in trust- trust that I could hear Him, hear what He had to say to me specifically, and truly receive it for myself. That was a choice.
There’s a song that goes “Your love never fails/never gives up/never runs out on me.” For me, it always evokes an image of doing an about face to turn smack-dab into the Grace and Love of God.
It’s always there. I am empowered to cultivate an intimacy rich environment because it simply takes adjustments on my part. It takes listening and responding to the Holy Spirit’s nudges. Being intentional with your down time. Feeding your spirit with the Word as much or as often as you feed your physical body is a start. When I chose to believe his Word was true, instead of consulting my senses and listening to the enemy’s lie, I realized God responds to faith. In my outstretched neck, His promise to never fail or disappoint those who look to Him proved true.
Believing that He is for you in this is the first step. Partnering with Him in bringing you two closer together is an awesome ongoing journey. Get ready for the ride.