For most of my life, I believed that the heavenly Father and I shared a relationship for my benefit. However, His primary purpose for creating intimacy with believers is to reveal Himself. The greatest tragedy for anyone, but especially for a churchgoer, is to die without knowing the Lord personally. But like any friendship, intimacy with God requires effort.
In a genuinely loving relationship, each person wants to know more about the other. As believers, we’re sometimes guilty of taking a more self-interested approach and forget that God is the rightful center of attention. Instead, we head to church or into quiet time looking for something to inspire us, motivate us, or help us.
Part of the problem is that we would like to practice our faith in the safest way possible. Bible study, prayer, and church are relatively easy, compared to stepping out in faith or enduring persecution. But to know God intimately is not a purely intellectual pursuit. A truth about the Lord is not truly ours until He works it into our daily life.
First, we must spend time with Him. Bible studies and church are good, but they don’t count toward this requirement. We need to be alone with God, away from distractions and anything that might interfere with our communion. Susanna Wesley was mother to 18th-century evangelist John, hymn-writer Charles, and seven other children who survived to adulthood. She had her quiet time on a kitchen stool with her apron pulled over her head. When was the last time you got alone with the Lord and asked Him to speak to your heart?
Second, intimacy with God depends on our ability to listen. Most of the time, He will speak through Scripture. That’s why we need to give reading and meditation high priority.
Third, we must speak to God transparently and hold nothing back. A loving relationship is built upon honesty. Each person should feel comfortable expressing both positive and negative emotions while still trusting the other’s love. Of course, God already knows what is in our heart. But we must learn to trust Him with our deepest secrets.
Our Father wants His children to understand how He operates. The only way to gain that knowledge is by allowing God to unveil Himself in our life experiences. That means we must be willing to go through difficulty and pain as well as happiness and peace. A man can read that the Holy Spirit is the believer’s Comforter, but he does not know this truth until he has need of solace.
None of us would dare say that the God who saved us is not worthy of our attention. Yet many Christians act as if this were true. Intimacy with the Lord is a privilege. Do not waste the opportunity to be close to Him.
The Christian life is not about feeling good and deriving the greatest personal benefit from our connection to God. Rather, the Lord builds an intimate relationship with each of His followers. In that way, He can reveal more about Himself—truth by truth—as a believer needs that knowledge. What a privilege!