We all crave connection.
No matter your gender, your age, or your marital status, we all need touch. We all desire love. We all long for intimacy. It is how God created us, and we are created in His image, and He called it "very good". Babies only thrive and grow when they have loving skin-to-skin contact with another human. As single people growing up and becoming adults, we pursue friendships where we can safely share the deepest part of hearts with another. If we choose to get married, we have the privilege of sharing in a unique kind of intimacy that God designed to be a wonderful (albeit imperfect) window into His relationship with us. This deep intimacy seals covenant between two hearts, brings true joy, and creates new LIFE.
So what does physical intimacy with a person have to do with spiritual intimacy with God? And what is the secret to experiencing this kind of intimacy?
Well...I'm pretty sure it says somewhere in the Beginner's Guide to Blogging that you shouldn't say things like this but, here goes: I don't have the answers.
What I DO know is this: in my own life, Christ-centered meditation has been the catalyst towards experiencing a closeness with God that I previously only dreamed of. (See the blog post What is Meditation?) You might long for this same closeness. An intimacy that doesn't dissolve when the emotions and music of the church service fades away. One that permeates your every day existence. A love that gets you "un-stuck" from your ruts.
If a romantic getaway weekend can spark a fresh-hot flame in a marriage, then meditation is like the all-inclusive resort to which you have DAILY ACCESS to enjoy the very presence of God and the rich pleasures that follow!
I love how when Jesus was here on Earth, He told such simple short stories to illustrate His values and priorities. One day, during a time of meditation, He showed me how common interactions in marriage can sometimes mirror our relationship with Him. My hope is that you take an honest look, just as I did, at which degree of intimacy you most relate to, and that you begin to desire deeper intimacy with God everyday! Even if you're not married, I'm sure you can still identify with these common relational ruts (even if it's with parents, a best friend, or roommate).
1. TENSION IN THE ROOM
Couple: You're in the same house, but you could cut the tension with a knife. There are unfulfilled expectations, deeply-help disappointments, and maybe even anger that has begun to bubble into bitterness. Although you are there in body, you don't make yourself available for any real interaction.
God: Often we think it's wrong to voice our frustrations to God. We've believed that if we have faith, we shouldn't ever have questions about what's happened in our lives or the lives of those around us. But all of this unvoiced disappointment hasn't helped our faith, it's derailed it. You no longer make yourself available to God because you're frustrated at Him and feel like He's holding out on you. Your relationship with Him is strained at best, and you don't know how to move forward. You continue to do all the things you know you "should" do because you're not ready to completely walk away, but inside, you're hurting and know there must be a better way.
2. DISTRACTED DEVOTION
Couple: You're busy all the time and consider yourself a multi-tasking guru. As you mill around the house you might be talking to a friend on the phone, looking up tonight's dinner recipe, overhearing two kids argue in the playroom while the other is tapping your arm with the toilet plunger, all the while thinking about how you still have work that needs to get done before tomorrow. In all the hubbub, you barely notice when your husband walks through the door at the end of his work day. You give a quick, curt kiss without even looking in His eyes. But in order to survive this night you must keep moving until you eventually fall on your bed at 11 o'clock in a stress-induced 5 hour coma without having said another word to him.
God: This type of survival lifestyle (yes, I call it survival because it's not truly living) so often translates over to my relationship with God. What about yours? There is a level of devotion in our hearts but we simply have no time to see that devotion carried out in any meaningful way from day to day. We have powerful encounters with God at church services and conferences, but our every day lives are harried, and we can't remember the last time we had a QUALITY alone moment with God.
3. ACTIVITY-FOCUSED TEAMWORK
Couple: When you are in the same room, you're most likely working on a project together. Maybe you're renovating the house, sharing parental duties, or outside doing the yard together. Yes, you are together, but your focus is often on the task at hand, the latest project. You like working as a team, but if you don't have a project you're actively doing, you find it awkward and hard to just sit and enjoy one another's company. Couples who hide behind this front of connection for decades often call it quits once the kids have grown up and left the house because there are no longer any shared interest and no more projects to work on.
God: Sometimes, we only feel connected to God when we are doing a project with Him, or for Him, or even just loosely in His name. It's not that the project (mission, ministry, or service-oriented task) is bad, it's just that it's the only way you know how to interact with Him. I think of Martha, who wanted to make everything just perfect for Jesus, but he told her that ultimately, she was missing the point. He said something similar to the religious leaders who were performing spiritual activities all the while missing out on genuine relationship with Him.
4. DINNER DATE CONNECTION
Couple: There are those special times when you finally get away on an actual date. You've shelled out the money for a babysitter, you made a pact not to look at your phones the whole night, and you're looking forward to honestly connecting with one another. Soft music plays in the background, you sit across the table from each other, looking into the eyes of the one you love. Listening. Laughing. Catching up on what's been going on in life. Your shoulders loosen and you begin to breath a little easier. It's a good night, and you talk about how you wish you could live more of life like this - connected.
God: Moments when we feel sincerely joined to God's heart are precious. You've made a sacrifice of time and attention and end up having a powerful encounter with Him, maybe during prayer or a worship service. You feel like you hear his voice, leading you and loving you, and you respond to Him in your own unique way. It's such a breath of fresh air, you vow to make more time like this to encounter Him. But there's an even deeper degree of intimacy that He wants you to experience.
5. ULTIMATE INTIMACY
Couple: All healthy relationships have potential for a deep intimacy where someone can share the most vulnerable aspects of their heart in a way that is raw and authentic. These are some of the beautiful moments shared with your beloved:
God: So, let's take a look again at the deepest degree of intimacy, only now through the lens of Christ-centered meditation.
THE BEST KEPT SECRET is that we have access to this measure of intimacy and connection with God EVERY DAY through Christ-centered meditation!
If you are new to Christ-centered meditation, check out the following blog posts: