Hey friends! As I already mentioned, my blog is going to be a bit different this year. I’m invited some dear friends to write each month on topics that are near to my heart. Topics that Regina took me through 10 years ago as a part of the Titus 2 Mentoring program.
January begins with “Intimacy with God.” I reached out to my precious friend, Kay Wyma, who I met through the author world – but has become one of my go-to friends the past couple of years. She has walked with me through so many ups and downs and I treasure her wisdom and counsel. So thankful we are now in the same city and can do coffee and lunch.
I asked her to do ONE blog post and you’re going to get three – because she has a passion for this topic! Enjoy. I know you will. – Courtney
by Kay Wyma
A little over ten years ago, I threw up my hands.
Since I was a little girl, I had known the Lord. At least knew who He was. And I knew that I wanted to lean more on His ways than my own. I don’t know why I felt that way except to say that He seemed so safe – in a never-wavering sort of way.
I guess more than anything I longed to be loved unconditionally – with no strings attached/without abandon. As a child, that’s how I understood God’s love to be. And I wanted it.
But, at some point along the way, intimacy with God (a real relationship) took on performance attributes. In order to know Him/to be worthy, I had to do something or be a certain way.
To-dos included all kinds of things – serve, put others first, be kind to my enemies, think nice thoughts, read my Bible, “hide it in my heart.” Which I obligatorily tried to do – struggling under the weight of it all.
Thankfully, through wisdom offered by an older and wiser sojourner, I was introduced to and ran toward God’s grace, a welcome concept for my performance-oriented self. I grabbed onto and embraced the truth that we are saved by grace, not of ourselves. And I leaned into the enormity of that gift and the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf out love.
But I still struggled – especially with lists of directives in Scripture that clearly fall into the to-do camp, lists that made the welcomed gift of grace confusing.
I’d hit passages like 1 Corinthians 13 and be super convicted to love. Paul clearly states that if I “do not have love, I gain nothing.” But the heaviness of it all. I can’t even get past trying my hand at the first Love is…:
- “patient” – yeah, not so much
- “does not envy” – can’t say that either
- “does not boast” – I try to avoid that one. And now with social media in play – is posting boasting?
- “is not proud” – maybe, until I realize that pride is any time my thoughts are anchored on myself, either in puffing up or beating down.
My goodness – it’s right about there that I quit, not knowing quite what to do.
Of course admonitions are not just in 1st Corinthians. They pop up everywhere. And directives felt/feel heavy.
Until that moment when I literally gave up.
I found myself one morning on my knees in prayer. I had come to the end of my trying. I had nothing left except to ask the Lord to please show Himself to me.
I was tired and I ached for the safe/unconditional love I thought possible when I was young. I really needed/need that love. My kids were little. The world’s pressures were so heavy; I just couldn’t handle the weight of religious pressures, too – especially when faced by my inability to measure up.
So I basically asked the Lord:
Will you teach me? Whether the words in my Bible come alive or not, I’m not going to stop believing, but if possible, would you PLEASE show me who you are.
I now know that such a request is the beginning of intimacy with Him.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7: 7)
My time in Scripture and my interaction with lists began to change. Rather than reading passages as they related to me (my actions/inactions), I started to read to know Him.
1 Corinthians 13 changed from a laundry list of to-do’s to a beautiful portrait of Him. For if God is love (Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8.), then HE:
- is patient
- is kind
- does not envy
- does not boast
- is not proud
- does not dishonor others
- is not self-seeking
- is not easily angered
- keeps no record of wrongs
- rejoices in truth
- always protects
- always trusts
- always hopes
- always perseveres
… and, “LOVE (God) NEVER FAILS.”
Can that be true? Is the Lord all of those things?
Yes – and so much more.
Paul adds a little further down in Chapter 13 that we can only see a portion while here on earth. Because “(f)or now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Let the floodgates open – even today.
As I force my eyes off me, I more easily search to see HIM in Scripture; to see HIM in Creation around me; to seek HIM and to find HIM rather than to live up to some method of performance.
Maybe that’s why the intimacy seemed so far out of reach. My focus was more on doing rather than knowing-Him. His yoke didn’t feel light or easy, until I started to understand surrender. What I thought I had to do myself, I realized He does for me.
Maybe this is where the enormity of grace meets the action steps of faith.
The lists really are there “so that (life) may always go well for you” (Deut. 12:28) – because God loves us (in the same way I love my kids and provide directives so they might thrive), but also – maybe because we can only attempt the lists with Him (“…apart from me you can do nothing John 15:15)
And really – what can be more intimate that God doing it for us.
It’s a mind-blower for me: Any time I love, I’m bumping up against/engaging with/tapping into God because He IS love.
Now, that’s intimate.
I recently read a quote by St Augustine:
“The mind commands the body and is instantly obeyed.
The mind commands itself and meet resistance.”
And I contemplated the potential in that statement. What if I actually surrendered to the Lord and invited the Holy Spirit to command my thoughts and subsequent actions as the mind commands the body. In the same way my heart beats, or even my fingers type this message, when directed by my mind (thankfully without a second of resistance), I pray my thoughts surrender to and obey the Holy Spirit. Left to myself, there’s lots of resistance.
And then, I might be able to grasp the essence of intimacy as indicated in Romans 15:13 – a verse wrapping up what in years past could have felt like a laundry list of heavy-burden action steps for right-living in Romans 12-15:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Which rings true to Paul’s doxology in Romans 11: 36
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
EVERYTHING – all of life – is “from him,” “through him,” and “for him.”
That’s exciting intimacy for sure.
Learning from the journey. Thank goodness we don’t walk the road alone. I, for one, would LOVE to hear what the Lord is teaching you about intimacy.