Posted by Anne Witton on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 Under: Reflections
A visitor to my website recently contacted me to ask “What do you mean when you talk about experiencing intimacy with God? How does it feel being intimate with God / Jesus and is it enough?”
I thought these were excellent questions, so here’s my attempt at an answer.
I guess our culture often defines intimacy in terms of sex, or at least physical intimacy. That’s often what we immediately think of when we think of ‘intimacy’. But I think it’s much broader and deeper than that. It’s about connection with others that happens in all sorts of different ways (for example through shared purpose, laughter, memories, tears, trust, understanding etc.)
The deepest intimacy possible is about being totally known, completely understood and unconditionally loved. We often look for that in another person (often in a romantic / sexual relationship), but actually the only place we can get that level of intimacy is with God.
The Bible uses some great imagery to explain the relationship between God and his people (there are lots of examples, but I’ve just picked out a verse for each):
- Father to child (“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” – Psalm 103: 13)
- Mother to child ([Jesus replied] “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” – Luke 13: 34)
- Husband to wife (“For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name” – Isaiah 54: 5)
- Friends (“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18: 24)
- Brothers and sisters ([Jesus replied] “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matt 12: 50)
All human relationships are pale shadows of the most deeply intimate and secure relationship we were created for.
I think we all want meaning, purpose, unconditional love, forgiveness, freedom from shame and hope for the future. Jesus is the only place those things are found (He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14: 6). In him we are completely known (Psalm 139: 2) and yet not rejected (John 6: 37) and once we’ve embraced his love, we can never lose it (Romans 8: 38-39). All we need to do is come to him in in repentance (basically means being sorry for doing things our way and being willing to change to go God’s way).
In terms of what intimacy with God feels like, it’s a tough one because I guess in some senses it will be different for each person. It’s rooted in the truth of the Bible – the fact that I can trust what God says about me and his promises for me. So I know that I’m loved (John 15: 9), I’m a child of God (1 John 3: 2), I’m forgiven (Acts 13: 39), I’m not forsaken (Heb 13: 5), I’m saved (Heb 7: 25), I’m no longer a slave to my own rebellion against God (Rom 6:6) and I’m alive in Christ (Rom 6:11).
I like being outdoors so I tend to experience my deepest moments of intimacy with God when I’m walking alone on a beach or up a mountain. When I’m talking with him, I can feel his delight in me as his precious daughter. I feel safe and I feel like there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I feel God smiling at me and I enjoy knowing he’s there and he loves me. It’s hard to describe – a bit like trying to describe the taste of a banana – you kind of just have to eat it!
Some people question whether intimacy with God is enough. We’re created for intimacy with God, but we’re also created for intimacy and community with each other. No one is a lone ranger! This doesn’t mean that we need to be in a sexual relationship, but that we all need friends to share our lives with. God also calls us into relationship with his people (other Christians). There’s loads in the Bible about the family of God, but Romans 12: 4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31 are good places to learn about how we belong to one another. My friend Andrew has also written a good piece on what intimacy in friendship looks like.
If you’ve never experienced intimacy with God, there’s no time like the present to embrace the greatest relationship you will ever have. Take some time to call out to him, soak in the truth of his word and thank him that he will never leave you or forsake you (Heb 13: 5).
In : Reflections
Tags: intimacy love