You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely….
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How amazing are your thoughts concerning me God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
Every single person is deeply hungry for intimacy with Father God, even if they don’t realize that’s what the empty void pulling on their heart is yet. To know someone deeply and to be deeply known is such a violent need in us, that without it being met in a healthy way, we do all kinds of crazy things to try and satisfy it. In fact, many psychologists believe that a lack of healthy intimacy is the root of a lot of behavior issues from promiscuity to pornography, which are simply counterfeit imitations of intimacy.
True intimacy only can occur with someone who you let into every part of your heart, including all the dark and messy closets you’ve tried to keep hidden for years. Intimacy requires vulnerability. It requires taking off all our masks, some of which we’ve worn for so long that we feel naked without them. Intimacy is scary because we fear rejection for exposing those dark corners. But the only way to feel truly seen, known and loved is to shed the masks, open the closets and let people in. Of course this kind of intimacy isn’t meant to be shared with everyone, and we will have different levels of intimacy with different people, but God has created in us a need for intimacy within certain covenant relationships such as our closest friends, marriage partners and certainly with Himself. Our Maker wants to build intimacy with each of us and paid a high price to make it possible.
Do you know God presently?
To be intimate with someone, not only do we have to know them, but we have to know them presently. Just because you once knew every dream, fear and struggle of your next door neighbor in 5th grade, doesn’t mean you have intimacy with them when you meet again 20 years later. Intimacy is something we have to continually cultivate and it requires knowing someone’s current life and thoughts.
So often we focus on getting to know God by reading His Word; and while that is super important and I highly recommend it, reading about someone and their thoughts is not enough to cultivate a truly intimate relationship. It would be like me reading an autobiography by Bill Gates and afterwards declaring that we have a relationship. I’ve grown in knowledge about him and some of his thoughts and ways from a book he’s written about himself, but by no means do I have a relationship with him because of reading it. I know it’s not a perfect metaphor because God’s word is living and active, but you get my point. We need to also have the present word of God (which sometimes He does deliver through the Word).
Do you know God presently? Do you know what He thinks of that loan you want to give, or that house you’re thinking of buying? Do you know what He thinks about the news story you’ve had floating in the back of your mind, or what advice He has for that relationship issue you are currently struggling with? Do you know what He’s doing on the earth, what His plans and purposes are for you and the people around you?
If not, don’t worry. You can! We all can hear God’s voice (John 10:4). I think a lot of us just don’t realize it, because we spend so much time talking at God we never ask Him questions and listen for the answer. I remember the first time I ever tried to ask God a sincere question about 10 years ago. I asked Him, “Why am I always going through these cycles of depression?” The answer and solution popped into my head so instantly and not from anywhere I was expecting. And I was never the same. Not only did I find a solution for depression that changed my life, but I realized I actually can hear God’s voice! And so can you!
4 Steps for Building Intimacy with God:
1. Ask Him Questions: Make your daily prayer/devotional time more conversational. Ask Him questions. Write down the answers. I often journal in conversation with God. Sometimes He gives me specific answers, other times I simply get an inner-knowing, other times He simply tells me to wait. That I cant’ know yet. Other times He may be silent because He’s telling me I already know the answer, or because He’s saying it’s my choice. The more I’ve done this over the years, the more my “listener” has been growing.
2. Talk to Him Unfiltered: In order to build intimacy we have seek out knowing the other person, but we also have to let them know us. We can’t hide from God if we want to be intimate with Him. I love Psalm 139 because it shows how intimately acquainted David was with God and God with David. Because we see from this Psalm that God already knows us completely, why hide your true feelings of jealousy, anger, sadness, disappointment or whatever it is from God in your prayer time? Why do we sometimes feel like we have to stay away from God until those things are dealt with? That’s like saying we have to get clean before we take a shower! We see in the Psalms that David is very free with all of his emotions. Sometimes it even makes me uncomfortable when I see how raw and real he is with God, sometimes saying things that are flat out spiteful or faithless. But God wants to be the one who walks us through and out of those emotions. So stop stuffing them down and pretending they aren’t there, and stop running from God when you’re feeling boggled down by scary emotions. Come into His loving arms and let Him in! (If this sounds really hard or scary for you, you may want to read this post on the nature of Father God and His heart towards you.)
3. Do Things Together: You may be in a point of your life where you don’t have a lot of questions for God. Or maybe you’re just a person that likes to be active. Spending time with God for you might look like going on a hike with Him. Or painting with Him. How do you do that? Ask Him to come! Talk to Him. Listen. Ask Him to show you things you haven’t seen before, ask Him questions about His creation.
I like to watch movies with God. I’ll go to my movie collection and say, “What movie should we watch today God?” Then I’ll ask Him to show me things about Himself or His creation from the movie. It’s always incredible. I can watch Lord of the Rings for example multiple times a year because He shows me new stuff about Himself and the Kingdom using that story every time.
4. Be in Community with Other Believers: I truly believe there are parts of God that He will only show you through other people. Likewise, I believe there are breakthroughs you need, that He’ll only deliver to you through other people. He loves you too much to let you miss out on intimacy with Himself or other people. He made us to need each other. Each of us are only one part of the body and we’re meant to be connected to the rest and receive the benefits of being connected. I’ve been amazed over the last few years as I’ve pursued community and tried to manage my hermit tendencies, how much I’ve learned about God and how much breakthrough He’s brought me just by getting to know other people who think and behave differently than me.