Monday, July 18, 2011

Intimacy with God

I've been working on the devotional for Living Room for this Friday. As usual, this one grew out of my own experience, combined with the reading I've been doing.

A while back I was reading Traveling Light by Max Lucado. And I noted how he said that "loneliness is the absence of intimacy." He went on to say how loneliness could be looked on as a gift from God, because when we're lonely and have no one close who we can be honest and intimate with, we would be forced to go to God. He'd be the only one left to go to.

But I so disagree with him and I feel it was a somewhat insensitive thing to say. So many of us living with depression have a hard time going to God when we're in the depths.

I so very much need people with skin on too. A person I can have a coffee with. A person who will respond to what I have to say. I need more than God alone. I need the love of people who represent Him. I need a regular "fix" of people like this. The best are from my church family - people I worship with, people who are spiritually on the same page as me, people who will support me and who I, in turn, can give support to.

There are times when I'm so lonely. Often when depression threatens and especially when depression has taken hold. God seems further away and then I really do need to be reminded I'm loved. And I have found that God does love through people. People can, and have been, God's hands for me. I don't think loneliness is a gift as Lucado claimed.

In his book, One Life, Scot McKnight says, “The dream of Jesus [the kingdom of heaven] never lets anyone dwell in solitude.” So maybe it’s not so bad to need your friends? …but I suppose to rely on them is a bit different, isn’t it? In the end, God is the only one we can truly rely on, isn’t He? People will at times let us down. Our friends are needy as well at times. They can’t always be there for us.

But God is always there for us, even though at times He may seem distant. In fact, He longs for us to reach out to Him. We always long to feel God’s presence, but have you ever thought that God probably longs for us more than we long for Him? Brennan Manning even wrote a book called The Furious Longing of God. By “furious” he referred to the enormous vitality and strength of God – loving us with intense energy. How God wants us to spend time with Him!

A verse that really spoke to me and gave me a lot of comfort some time ago when I was going through a long and deep depression was Zephaniah 3:17:

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Only thing was, I was too down to be able to think of God rejoicing, singing, or taking delight in me. I left that part of the verse out. Mostly what I focused on during those painful days, was "He will quiet you with his love."

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