by Brian G. Bettes
A good friend texted me this picture as a joke recently. Then he said, “This would make a good subject for a blog.” I decided He was right!
How often do we take this approach to our relationship with God? Has anyone else ever realized they were doing this, or am I the only one?
See, the thing is, we are supposed to be involved in a relationship with God; and it is supposed to be a strong healthy one, right? What does a strong healthy relationship consist of? Think about your friends. I mean the really good friends you have that have been through thick and thin with you. Are these people that you call on only when you need them? Or are you pretty much in communication with them all the time in one way or another? Are they just an afterthought in your life, or do they have a prominent role?
What about God? Is He someone you think about only when bad things hit and you need help? Do you look at God as your personal genie that you let out of the bottle only when things aren’t going well?
The Bible says we are to “love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your heart, and with all your soul” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30). Does that sound like a casual, “only-when-I-need-you” relationship? It sounds more like an intimate, “in-contact-with-you-all-the-time” relationship to me. Whether we like it or not, intimacy takes work. Real intimacy is not the idealized emotional “love” that is espoused by Hollywood. Real intimacy is like agape love, the Biblical kind of love, that takes work, sacrifice, and sometimes even suffering.
Intimacy requires trust, which is not built overnight. That takes time. Time has to be spent together doing things like talking (remember how much you and your mate talked when you first met, and during the first years of your marriage), walking the walk of life together, solving problems, sharing in honesty, and giving of yourself for the good of the other person. Intimacy is doing what is right for someone else, even if it means humbling and “lessening” yourself.
I have seen a lot of intimacy that took years to build destroyed in a very short period of time by violating these principles. In every case, one of the parties stopped giving of themselves for some reason (not usually a good one). Suddenly the trust that supports the relationship starts to erode, breaking down the foundation, eventually collapsing all intimacy within the relationship. It is painful to see how quickly that intimacy cools into a distant memory of a once thriving, loving relationship.
Anyone who is married understands this. Intimacy, not the physical kind, but the emotional kind, takes a lot of work to keep alive. One cannot claim intimacy with one’s mate when there are little “corners,” or parts, of their lives that are “off-limits.” I have heard couples say so many times, “Well, we just don’t talk about that.” REALLY!?! How can intimacy grow in an environment of secrecy?
The question has to be asked, do we do that with God? Are there parts of our lives that are “off-limits” to Him? Kind of ridiculous when you think about it, right? I mean, you are telling the Being who has all knowledge, can read your mind, knows every thought you think, and has power over your life, that He is not allowed in a certain corner of your life. But I get it! Who hasn’t done that, right?
Thankfully, God is much more faithful to us than we are to Him. He loves us deeply and wants to see us succeed. He yearns for us to become His children. As a result, though He does NOT compromise with sin, He waits patiently while we “figure it out” and return to Him as we stumble our way through this life. He is always there, ready to forgive upon our repentance, ready to lift up, and ready to encourage when we turn to Him. But is that the kind of relationship God wants with us?
Let’s look at the example of Moses. God talked with Moses face-to-face, and said that He was Moses’ friend (Exodus 33:9, 11). Can you image God calling you His BFF (that is Best Friend Forever for us older folks)? God said He knew Moses by name, like one would be with a close personal friend, and that Moses found grace (chen, a Hebrew word meaning “favor”) in God’s sight. These are all signs of intimacy in a relationship. There was the trust that leads to intimacy there because they spent time talking together, working together, and solving problems together with an “all-in” respect for one another. I will not quote it here for lack of space, but carefully read through Exodus 33:12-22 from a relationship perspective. Note the depth of intimacy on both sides of this friendship. It was not a one-way relationship from Moses to God. God shows deep personal investment in this friendship with Moses. Moses really did walk with God on a daily basis!
Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22-24). Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). There was Abraham whom God said He knew in an intimate way (Genesis 18:17-19). David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). And there were MANY more. Most importantly, we see our forebear, older Brother, and example, Jesus, whose deep relationship with the Father was so intimate that He said They were ONE (John 10:30; 17:11, 21-22). So close were They that there was “no daylight” between Them. Jesus said that those who saw Him, saw the Father, and those who heard His words heard the words of the Father (John 14:9-10).
What about us? Are we that close to the Father? Do we literally walk with God? Do people literally see Jesus (and therefore the Father) living in us? Sadly, it is all too often that only during times of duress do we turn to Him. Yet He desires that we actually walk with Him, as Abraham and those others mentioned above did. He is our Father and wants a close, intimate, personal relationship with us. What about us, do we want that same intimate relationship with Him, or do we only turn to Him when it is time to break the glass?