Midweek Fellowship – August 10, 2016
Intimacy with God – Part III
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
The topic, “Intimacy with God,” is supposed to challenge our hearts and to speak to our hearts. It is to stir up our inner man, to long for, to truly crave for and to awaken the true desires in our hearts. Many times, we are so caught up with the world that we do not realize how much we are dancing according to the beat and rhythm of the world.
In John 14:2-3New American Standard Bible (NASB), Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Intimacy with God must be approached as something vital for us. This means intimacy must be seen as something necessary, a requirement to live the kind and quality of life that we first have chosen to live. We must first choose in our hearts that we want to live this God-kind of life. If we don’t take this first step, all of the teachings that we had means nothing. If living God’s life is not your desire, then, we are just wasting our time; but, if living this life is our passion, which we should really have, this kind of life is sustained by giving intimacy with Him as a necessary and vital component of this life. First, we must have a conviction that intimacy as important. Two, we must have the staunch determination and discipline to persist, and to persevere in this lifestyle. This world would try to distract us with so many things around us. Even as we go and dismiss ourselves tonight, before we reach home, we will already encounter many temptations that will steal the Word from us.
When we talk about intimacy with God, we come into the very purpose that Christ came for. Remember that when God created man, he was the very epitome of His work. He said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper, suitable for him.” Right from the beginning, God intended love, relationship, and intimacy as the essence of our being and life.
Why is sex the most abused, the most controversial, the most scandalous, the most provocative, and the hottest issue in human existence today? It is also the most suppressed, the most stifled and silenced of all desires in man. We don’t want to talk about it, thinking it is something malicious, but we won’t be alive today without sex. It is one of the vital keys in God’s plan for multiplication.
When God created the first woman, He took her straight out from the side of man. God did not make another new creation as He did with man from the elements of the dust of the earth. Rather, He took a portion of man and fashioned a woman from this. None of us, men, have fully recovered from this surgery. There is always an aloneness, and an incompleteness that we experience everyday of our lives. Because of this first action, when God took something from us, we wanted to seek it out in a relationship. Why do people want to have friends? Why do people want to be someone? Why are boys attracted to girls and vice versa? At this perverted times, why are boys attracted to boys and girls are attracted to girls? Even worst is that humans are attracted to animals and vice versa? When we talk of human love, the love of man and woman, the love of parent and child, the love of friends, all these are just a clue to a deeper reality, a search for something that exist but this something is out of this world.
In Ephesians 5:31-32 (NIV), talking about the marriage of man and woman, it says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” It is a profound mystery indeed! God created man for the greatest romance story of all time, for intimacy with Himself, as His beloved.
In Jeremiah 2:2-3 (NIV), “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the Lord says: ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’ declares the Lord.”
In Ezekiel 16:8-14 NIV, “Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine. “‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Herein is the story, the drama of the love affair of God with His people. This is why Zephaniah couldn’t hold himself to say in chapter 3 verse 17, “God dances over us with joy.”
In Song of Solomon 4:9, “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.” In Song of Solomon 5:8, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, As to what you will tell him: For I am lovesick.”
The words of Jesus in John 14:2-3 were given in the context of the practice that day, when a suitor makes his proposal to his fiancée. Once the man secures the hand of his bride, he would return to his father’s house and build the additional room that would be their bridal suite. It was preparing a place for her. When all was ready, he would come for her and take her to be with him forever.
Saint Augustine says, “The whole life of a Christian is a holy longing, what you desire ardently, as yet you do not see…. By withholding of the vision, God extends the longing, through longing he extends the soul, by extending he makes room in it. … So let us long because we are to be filled… that is our life, to be exercised by longing.”
There is a deep cry in every man for this relationship because we do not understand it, and we have allowed the perversions of the flesh and sexual passions to assuage, to appease this longing. We worship sex today because we have forgotten to worship God. We have turned a cynical, suspicious, even scornful attitude toward human intimacy because we have not understood the purity of our divine intimacy. Many of us have a hard time conceiving this kind of intimacy with God.
“Carole was out by the river banks early one morning, watching the sun rising above the mists on the water. Overwhelmed by the beauty around her, Carole had praised the Lord by saying, ‘Jesus, Your sunrise is so beautiful! I bet You really enjoy painting such a scene. In fact, I bet it’s a real release for You after having to deal with us all day and all night. It must be Your favorite part of the day.’ Carole said that God answered her in the secret places of her heart. ‘Yes, Carole, I love sunrises and sunsets, and they are all fun to paint. I love to paint them. but, rather than a release, it’s just something I do on the side. My greatest joy is in you. You are much more important than any sunrise or sunset. In fact, I would leave a sunrise unfinished in a moment if you needed My help and I were not big enough to do both. But I am big enough, so you need not worry. And even if I were not, you wouldn’t need to worry, because you come first’”
Do you think that Carole would be ready to face the day after hearing this? Would she go out to the world discouraged after hearing this? No! She will be excited, exhilarated, and joyful leaving the presence of the Lord!
Why do people pray for only 5 minutes, repeat memorized prayers, and come out rushing because it seemed like a nuisance to their morning? In the busyness of our life each day, prayer and time with the Lord seems to be an option in the bottom of our lists of things to do. Yet, prayer was the only thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them.
When we come to God’s presence, with a sense of duty, with just a one-way conversation, “Lord, bless this day, bless me…” then time with God will indeed be a dull and boring experience. Prayer must be transformed when it moves from a monologue to a dialogue; when you listen to God speak after you have spoken; even when you listen to Him speak before you say anything. It takes practice to hear God.
Christianity is not about rules and good behavior, morals, and right conduct. These are by-products, results, fruits of a deeper, weightier, and more profound essence of Christianity. Christianity is about desire, a desire to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is about healing our brokenness, which we have borne for many years like the hurts that we had with our family members and to people whom we thought will never betray us; the hurts we had from our best friends, from our previous relationships with the opposite sex. Brokenness makes us uncomfortable; it makes us betrayed and uneasy when we talk about love and relationships. We don’t want to get close to anyone any more. Healing our brokenness is when we have to endure each other, to forgive an offense, to suffer the pains of betrayal, of personal differences. We have borne the burden of all these years, abused by a society whose only goal is to bleed us dry not to make us producers but consumers of material things and its unsatiated passion to satisfy self.
Worship, prayer, spending time with the Holy Scriptures are but a few of the things that bring intimacy with God into a tangible, real, “experienciable” point in our lives. Someone asked Mother Teresa for spiritual direction and she replied, “Spend one hour each day in adoration of your Lord, and never do anything you know is wrong” It is a simple yet profound advice.
Intimacy with God is the act of the abandoned heart adoring God. It is the union that we crave. Few of us, if any, really experience this in our lives, but this is what we need desperately. Simply being involved in a Sunday mass, doing the liturgy, singing religious songs will not pass for intimacy. What really counts is the attitude and posture of our heart - a heart, open bare pouring forth its love toward God and communing with him. It is a life of desire.
Tomas Kempis said, “There is nothing created that can fully satisfy my desires. Make me one with You in a sure bond of heavenly love for You alone are sufficient to Your lover, and without You all things are vain and of no substance.” How do make intimacy with God? Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God.”
We need to keep our heart free from things which do not belong in it. When we buy “pure water”, we get water that does not have other chemicals or substances apart from the H20 family. Anything that does not belong to this substance are things that causes impurities. In the same way, a pure heart is a heart that has no impurities. A pure heart is to be single minded. A single minded heart is a heart focused, like a laser beam, to the one purpose of our life. We were created by God and for God. When we keep our heart and mind single in God and God alone, then, we have a pure heart. This is what brings spiritual focus; and thus, spiritual strength.
Intimacy with God brings out the impurities of our hearts and makes us focused to and concentrated in the purpose and reason for our creation. There are many people today who are unaware, ignorant, and oblivious of the purpose why they were born and why they are living. So they go about life day by day, expending energy and resources with no clue where they going and what life they are to live.
When we spend time with the Lord, He unclutters the impurities of our lives. He gives direction and reason for our existence. He shows our destiny and the necessary steps we must take to reach that. “Where will I live? Who will I court and marry? What course in college will I take? What should I do? Where will I work? Will I enter the mission field? Or will I establish a business to support the Lord’s work?” All of these are questions that we face each day, and all of these will have their answers with a time with God.
Countless men and women in our time are where they are today, successful in their endeavors because of the intimacy they developed with God. Someone I know very well, started with me in pastoral training in the Church. After we began developing our time with God and understanding the value and worth of intimacy with Him, he realized that his real calling was in the business world. He left the ministry training and became a very successful businessman to this day. Intimacy with God will give us the answer that we seek for – not from friends and not even advices from people that we know.
My own personal testimony abounds with times I spent with God during my two and a half year stint in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. I grappled and struggled with leaving a bustling career in Electrical Engineering with all the promises of a solid, secure future in this field against the decision of going into full time ministry for God and serve Him with no assurance of any income. This was also at a time while I was at the threshold also of getting married and starting a family, and to this time, I never regretted the decision that I made because I knew that it was God who spoke to me. At the very edge of Rub' al Khali, a desert in Saudi Arabia, driving through the highways between Riyadh and Dammam, I heard God speak, “I want you.”
When we come to God and we strengthen our relationship with Him, He clears the way, relieves us from the encumbrances, the unnecessary, the impurities, and the sin which so easily entangles us so that we can run the race with endurance, while fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Perfecter of our faith.
What is a pure heart? It is to be intimate with God and to be single minded - God and God alone! I end with the very words of our Lord at the end of John 14, “Let us arise and go from here.”