Humans have a general desire to belong and to love, which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship. I live in a part of the world where intimacy, even in marriage, is not common. Spouses live in their own worlds and come together just to talk about the children or issues with the home, or to have sex…..and even that is, more often than not, not an intimate encounter but rather a selfish, self-satisfying act for the man. So I wonder how we can even conceive of having an intimate relationship with God.
What is Intimacy?
Intimacy is about being emotionally close to your partner; about being able to let your guard down, and let him or her know how you really feel; about being able to just be yourself around him or her. Genuine intimacy in human relationships takes place over time and is not stagnant; it is a journey of discovery in a relationship.
It requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity.
Does God want intimacy with us?
In all the instructions for the children of Israel in the wilderness, the recurrent theme was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Even Jesus emphasized this as the primary commandment of God. Can there be any doubt in our minds that God desires intimacy with us?
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8a)
When we read about the kind of relationship God had with people like Abraham and Moses, we easily see that He is keen to have a deep relationship with human beings. He was able to share His heart and His plans with these mere mortals and they were free to express themselves with Him, while still being reverent to Him. Psalm 139 shows that God knows us through and through…..that’s not the problem. Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are now able to come close to God without fear of destruction, so our ‘human-ness’ is also not the problem. The problem is that we don’t know God and are not interested in getting to know Him in an experiential way, not just hearsay. Yet intimacy is developed as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other. As a result, we cannot be intimate with Him.
Barriers to Developing and Maintaining Intimate Relationships
Communication – one barrier is when a person enters a relationship with some mistaken notions about just what intimacy is, or misjudges the needs or the thoughts of the other person in the relationship. Communication or the lack of communication would be one of the main barriers to the foundation of an intimate relationship.
Time – intimacy takes time to develop and a person who is not willing to allow for time for an intimate relationship to occur will not be able to develop that kind of relationship.
Shyness – reluctance to share oneself with another person can keep an intimate relationship from developing. Even if you’re shy with other humans, God already knows you completely and loves you unconditionally, so you can be free with Him.
Game Playing – people who act in stereotypical roles or try to play certain kinds of games cannot develop an intimate relationship with someone else simply because they are not being themselves. Game playing can be a detriment to the development of intimacy and can develop only when two people are being himself or herself in a significant way with another person. We might fool others with our acting like the perfect Christian but God knows better, so let’s drop the act with Him.
How to Develop an Intimate Relationship with God
Awareness – be aware of yourself and start where you are and not try to start some other place or relate with God like some other person does. Start with the level of intimacy where you feel most comfort. You can start by sharing your thoughts with the Holy Spirit. Once comfortable in an intimate relationship on that basis, then other intimate areas can be approached and developed like sharing your fears and failings, your pains and your need for Him/His help, and your love for Him. The most important thing is to be real with God. After all, He already knows and sees those things you think you’re hiding.
Knowledge – get to know God. We get to know other human beings by interacting with them – listening to them, talking with them, doing things with them, and observing them. It’s no different with God. Prayer is really, in its simplest definition, conversing with God. There are times when we need intercessory prayers, yes, but our relationship with God is built through simple, heart-to-heart two-way conversations with God. We can also observe God, learn how He sees things and understand Him better through the written Word of God – the Bible.
Create opportunities for intimacy – purposely make time when you can be alone with God. There is so much fighting for our time but we have to prioritize God and our relationship with Him.
Worship – Be positive about what you have in your relationship and let your partner know what you value about Him and about your Father-child, Saviour-saved, Potter-clay, Friend-friend, Lover-beloved relationship. Put it into words, sung or unsung. Everybody likes to be told that they are appreciated and loved….and God is so worthy of our worship always.
So, are you ready to pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with God? He says He’s at the door of your heart knocking and if you let Him in, He’ll come and fellowship with you. (Rev. 3:20). Go on, you know you want to.