Thursday, April 8, 2010

Intimacy

Whether married or single, we crave close contact on every level. The need for intimacy is as vital as the need for air and water, although too often we're so isolated and alone that we just ignore it or stuff it away. Without intimacy, life loses its color and fades to grayscale.

We want to be touched emotionally and physically. A friend says that her elderly mother wells up with tears when her son-in-law takes her into his embrace. Hugs are known to be therapeutic, to put it a bit clinically. Being held and taking a little time to absorb the feeling is so much better. And then there are kisses...

High on the list of behaviors that can keep you out of intimacy with God is sexual immorality (fornication and adultery), sexual intimacy without commitment to the partner for life, not just for a time, or a trial period. It's not casual sex, physical release, consolation, a relationship, how to end a date, or even a sharing of affection. It's a mortal sin listed in the same breath with murder, debauchery, and idolatry. Matthew 15:19, Acts 15:20, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 Revelation 21:8.

While physical intimacy is so critically important for not only our psyches, but long-term wellness, we want to be known in more than a superficial glance or the image we project. We want to be known for the secret heartbeat of our God-given passions and obsessions. We need to be chosen even when our faults and failures are known. We need to be understood. Cherished. Intimately known by a trustworthy person. We need to be loved, to connect on every level.

The “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11 has many examples of fidelity and trust in God by the heroes of the Bible. We apply their tactics of strength in the face of opposition, trust in the face of doubt, following the whisper of God where we cannot discern the next footstep on our own.

Faith is taking hold of God's unseen hand, taking possession of the title deed to eternity. It means that what you can't see or touch or measure is absolutely real, and the material world we live in now is the shadow or a reflection in a mirror.

BY FAITH, Abraham. BY FAITH, Moses. BY FAITH, David. They did amazing, worthy, historic acts. But is that what pleased God? No, it wasn’t what they did – it was what they believed about God: that He was able, and cared enough, to fulfill His promises.

I believe that God is able to fulfill His promises. He created the world out of chaos and sustains and recreates. He is in absolute control. But I confess that I haven't permanently arrived at the place yet where I believe that God cares so much that He can't wait to fulfill His promises to me. Much of the time, but not all of the time, I believe that God takes delight in me and loves me because-- Oh, wait. He doesn't love me because. He loves me. He loves me. He knew me from eternity and he formed me in my mother's womb. He counted the days until I was born. He blew his Spirit into my lungs for my first breath. He has plans for my life.

When I needed reassurance that I'm loved and still in God's plan, I read Hebrews 11 and sucked in my tummy, dried my tears, and let out a cleansing breath. It was all good until I got to the very end of the chapter, and then my resolution collapsed.

That’s where the book says that “Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” (Hebrews 11:39 MSG)

There we learn that people of faith held out despite torture and death, waiting for their promise to be perfected (matured). But not one got their hands on the promise? Not one of those amazing heroes took hold of the title deed to what God said would happen?

So what was the promise? Was it for wealth and land, a loving spouse and happy children, freedom, security, successful crops, influence and power, beauty, or physical perfection?

The promise was repeated throughout the ages, in all the scriptures. In the Garden, God walked and talked with our parents (Genesis 3:8 CEV). Immanuel, God-With-Us would come and live with us (Isaiah 7:14 and Revelation 21:3). God would be our God, and He’d be intimately known by us (Jeremiah 31:33-34). There would be a Ruler from among us who can approach God’s Presence (Jeremiah 30:21-22). Christ in us is life (Galatians 2:20). He will appear a second time to save those waiting (Hebrews 9:28). He is coming, and soon (Hebrews 10:27). And we will not only worship Him, but actually partake of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

The new covenant is this: “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.(Hebrews 8:10-12 NIV.)

The new, superior covenant is that God is now offering intimacy with us, instead of being separated from us by prophetic symbols, analogies, types, and a written code of regulations. Instead of a temple veil separating Him from us, He became the Door, the Way in to Abba’s throne. Now God is real to us.

The promise that millions have died for was that Jesus is the reality when all else was shadow or reflection. We are aliens in this world, but we are citizens in His kingdom of love.

Yes, that's what God offers – intimacy. That’s why those heroes of faith were willing to go through such trials, such pain, such separation from all they loved, but held loosely. For the promise of intimacy, close contact with the Most High God, they held tight to His hand, they obeyed the Voice, they lived as nomads and settled new territory, they braved the best-equipped armies on earth with songs of praise – and won!

And that is what God offers. That is what those heroes lived and died for. They knew it. They had the Promise in their hearts, the Promise that Immanuel would walk and talk with them as a personal Friend; that He would tenderly wipe away their tears with His own hand.

Regarding Zion [your name here], I can't keep my mouth shut, regarding Jerusalem, I can't hold my tongue, Until her righteousness blazes down like the sun and her salvation flames up like a torch. Foreign countries will see your righteousness, and world leaders your glory. You'll get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God. You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God. No more will anyone call you Rejected, and your country will no more be called Ruined. You'll be called Hephzibah (My Delight), and your land Beulah (Married), Because God delights in you and your land will be like a wedding celebration. For as a young man marries his virgin bride, so your builder marries you, And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so your God is happy with you.(Isaiah 62:1-5 MSG.)

Who doesn’t want to hear the divine whisper in our ears, “You are my delight”? Who doesn’t want to be a cherished, precious jewel, held high in the hands of God for all to admire its beauty? For that unimaginable privilege is offered to you as a gift.

And the only way you can accept the gift is by trusting that Jesus Christ is the reality when all of this world is shifting shadows. That is faith.

It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.(Hebrews 11:6 MSG)

He cares. He responds. He offers what you crave. Why resist?

6 comments:

  1. Michael Munk said:
    I'd click the "Love" button if they had one. Bravo, sister.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Doreen Nimmo Lobock said:
    Once again, Christy, phenomenal job!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Autumn R said:
    Really good!

    John M said:
    Nice share. Like the verse citations. I'm not able to accept all of that yet ..

    Colleen J said:
    Outstanding blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. K E said:
    Great article. You really have a gift, my friend. I know the "intimacy" with God you have....but I understand needing the other as well...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous wrote:
    I think intimacy is difficult to obtain for any length of time, even for Christians. Because the world is still fallen & cursed, I think there are only brief moments that any of us can experience or share such a thing on earth. That only through trials can we learn to reach out to God & cling to Him, many times in faith alone. We live in a shadow darkly, with lightning glimpses of intimacy with our God & Savior through the unimaginable & powerful work of the Holy Spirit. For me, I look forward to the time when all will be joy & intimacy for all time.
    These are just my thoughts. I know that everyone has different life experiences & therefore different viewpoints.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Comments from Facebook:

    Sharon...
    WOW! That was BEAUTIFUL, Christy. I was blessed! In relationships or not, God alone can provide the intimacy for which our hearts long!

    Dan...
    As a preacher's kid who grew up in a not very intimate home, I have had a lot to learn about this subject and how relationships function to give us this dimension that God so desires for us. Recently at our high school reunion, I again discovered how fulfilling it is to connect with friends and to socially interact as well as hug. I realize that God longs to have this kind of intimacy with us but we are so reluctant and busy. It was also great to finally, personally get to meet some of you who I have only known here on FB. I just want to thank everyone for their love, support and thoughts here. Christy, this article was really a blessing for me. I pray that God will give you the desires of your heart.

    ReplyDelete

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