Ever since I can remember I have been addicted to the affirmation and acceptance of people.
I struggle when I’m not the center of attention, the best performer, or the most liked. I was, and can still be, driven by a fear of rejection and disappointment in the eyes of people.
All this reveals my deep insecurity that is rooted in my belief that I am lovable only when I am “doing good,” and the truth is, what I really desire is the intimacy that can only be experienced through God’s unfailing love.
“What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.”Proverbs 19:22 NIV
Intimacy is defined as a “close familiarity or friendship; closeness.” We all long for unconditional acceptance and closeness. We want to be cared for, known, understood, and loved for who we are.
We long for relationships where we don’t have to lie about who we are or what we feel for fear of being less or poor in the eyes of others.
God is the starting place for this kind of intimacy. If we cannot be intimate with a perfect God, then we will certainly struggle to be intimate with imperfect people. Yet if we can be intimate with God, he can and will show us how to be free to experience the kind of intimacy in relationships that we all desire.
I remember the first night I moved into my college dorm. The day of moving into a new place was filled with so many different emotions; I was excited, I was nervous, and I was genuinely happy. By that evening I had assumed I would have a crew of new best friends. But that night reality hit me.
I worried that maybe the people I was meeting didn’t really like me. Maybe they weren’t the friends I wanted or the friends I was “supposed” to have. I was in a new place, with people I had never met before, and I was away from everyone I had ever really known. At that moment, I felt alone.
This is what life looks and feels like when we depend on people for happiness. Intimacy with God is different. What does it mean to experience intimacy with God? It means we are “never alone.” It means we have peace. It means we are courageous and capable of overcoming, no matter the circumstance.
“Jesus replied, ‘Now you finally believe in me. And the time has come when you will all be scattered, and each one of you will go your own way, leaving me alone!
Yet I am never alone, for the Father is always with me. And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me.
For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!’”John 16:31-33 TPT
Jesus had such an intimate relationship with God that he knew he was never alone. No matter the circumstance, no matter who was around him or how people felt about him or treated him, Jesus was at peace, confident, and able to overcome. This is what it is like to experience intimacy with God.
- Are you at peace (free from fear and angst)?
- Are you full of courage in the face of troubles and sorrows?
- Are you overcoming the challenges that life is throwing at you?
Jesus told his disciples in John 16:31-32 “now you finally believe.” In my pursuit of intimacy with God, I have found 4 beliefs that are key to learning and experiencing intimacy with God.
- God is interested in me
- I can be completely truthful with God
- I can be vulnerable with God
- God empowers me
In Part 1, we will explore the first two of these four keys to experiencing intimacy with God, focusing on the love and security we experience in having intimacy with God.
God is interested in me
The first key to experiencing intimacy with God is believing he is interested in us. God knows us and wants to be close to us. Not only this, but God knows why we are here and what he has created us to do. He is invested in us and is helping us make the impact we are meant to have.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.Psalm 139:3-4 TPT
As you can see from this scripture, God is interested in you, in who you are. He knows you. He can finish your sentences. This is a concept I am actually quite familiar with as I grew up with a twin brother.
Since conception I have always had someone there with me. We can sense when each other is in pain. We know each other’s thoughts and can finish each other’s sentences. We are fiercely protective of one another.
I remember this repeatedly proving true for us while playing sports in high school. We both played on the varsity basketball team. At the end of one particular game, a bench-clearing brawl broke out in the other team’s gymnasium. I was surrounded by the opposing team and their crowd. I was in big trouble.
The one guy who came to my side was my brother. He dove into the crowd swinging and screaming, “That’s my brother!” We went down hard that night but we did it together. My relationship with my brother is far from perfect. But it has served as a way to give me an idea of what intimacy with God is like.
The story is what I believe it looks like to experience intimacy with God. He is interested and there for us no matter what the circumstances or personal cost. He is interested and there for us when everyone else is running in a different direction away from us.
This should help us believe we matter. You are not here just to fill space or to be a background character in someone else’s movie. When we are close to God, we are aware of our deep meaning and value to God for who we are.
Consider this: nothing would be the same if you did not exist. Every place you have ever been and everyone you have ever spoken to would be different without you. We are all connected, and are all affected by the decisions and even the existence of those around us.
This kind of understanding and reassurance comes from a connection with God. But when we truly understand this it begs the question: are we interested in God?
Am I interested in God?
Yahweh says, “You are my witnesses, my chosen servants. I chose you in order that you would know me intimately, believe me always, and fully understand that I am the only God. There was no god before me, and there will be no other god after me.Isaiah 43:10 TPT
God wants us to be interested in him: to know who he is, to believe in him, and be close to him. And he desires this, not out of selfishness, but knowing that being with him is what is truly best for us in our lives.
- Do I believe that God wants me to know him? (This includes me knowing how he thinks and feels about me)
- Do I want to know God?
- Do I make daily effort to understand God (his nature, his goodness, his purpose, his love)?
I can be completely truthful with God
Put me on trial and examine me, O Eternal One! Search me through and through—from my deepest longings to every thought that crosses my mind. 3 Your unfailing love is always before me; I have journeyed down Your path of truth.Psalm 26:2-3 Voice
God’s unfailing love allows us to walk on his truthful path. Deceit and denial are roadblocks to experiencing intimacy. We will be motivated to be honest with God even when the truth exposes sin and painful emotions because we will be confident we will still be loved after acknowledging them.
Deep honesty for me begins when I am honest about the thoughts and attitudes of my heart in my relationship with God. Here are five thoughts and attitudes toward God that I have had to continually be honest about:
- Anxious thoughts: God doesn’t care. I have to do it alone. It is all on me. (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)
- Doubtful thoughts: God isn’t real. I have to put my trust in people or money. (Matthew 14:26 NIV)
- Bitter thoughts: God is disappointing and unfair. I have to find my own contentment. (Psalm 73:21-28 NIV)
- Fearful thoughts: God is too hard. I have to protect myself. I can’t meet his expectations. (Matthew 25:24-27 NIV).
- Guilty thoughts: God is going to punish me. I have to avoid God. (Proverbs 28:1 MSG).
Learn to see truth as an opportunity to grow in our wisdom and understanding of God and ourselves. It is when we are truthful with God that he can teach us how to repent and overcome our deepest thoughts and emotions.
Am I truthful with God?
“And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.”James 1:5 TPT
For me, the resistance to deep truth is I want to avoid thoughts and feelings that are connected to painful past experiences. These were times my interest was ignored or rejected. Times I experienced criticism when I didn’t understand something and didn’t know the correct answer.
- Are you secure enough with God to search your thoughts and know your heart?
- Am I honest with God, myself and others about my most private thoughts and feelings?
- What are the hardest thoughts for you to share with God?
- What are you most challenged to confess to God?
When we first understand how much God is interested in us, and in return we grow interested in him, we are then able to understand the safety and security we can have in being honest with him.
Devotionals in this series
- What Does it Mean to Experience Intimacy with God? Part 1
- What Does it Mean to Experience Intimacy with God? Part 2