Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts…They are always straying in their hearts…Take care, my dear family, that none of you possess an evil and unbelieving heart, leading you to withdraw from the living God.
A lot of heart talk in this chapter.
What does God most want from us?
It seems to be our hearts.
What does that mean?
We talk about intimacy with Christ, but do we know what we’re saying? We always need to be careful to not throw terms and phrases around as they can lose their meaning and intended connotation over time.
Intimacy is sharing. Sharing yourself. The more mutual sharing going on between people, the more intimate they become. The more you give of yourself in vulnerability, the closer you become to that person. And if they give the same to you, then you really become close. To be naked and unashamed with one another, as Adam and Eve were in the garden. No holding back. Total giving, and total receiving without judgment. This is intimacy. This is what we mean when we say intimacy with God. To cultivate sharing, and thus, nearness with God.
The way to intimacy with God is no holding back sharing of all of your self with Him. And it is also an open and receptive receiving of God for who God is. I don’t think it is to be just one-way. There is something healing and peace-giving about the uninhibited, unprotected giving of one’s self to God. When you bear your soul to Him, without pretense, and experience His acceptance, smile, and embrace, you are renewed in ways available through no other source or means. Sure, God already knows it all, but maybe He wants you to share yourself because He knows what it will do for you, not so much because He is clueless as to how you feel or what you desire.
Then we listen. Don’t be that person who always shares and never listens. Newsflash: You drain everybody around you! Thankfully, God cannot be drained of energy and get tired. His mercy endures forever. In listening, we let God be God. So many times we box God in. I always think of that scene in The Jerk with Steve Martin where he’s working at the carnival thing, and tells someone that they won any prize of their choice–as long as they choose it from within this tiny 5 inch by 5 inch square on the shelf of prizes. This is what we do with God, projecting our own ways and comprehension on to Him. “They do not know my ways”, therefore, we do not really believe that He can do abundantly above what we can ask or think. So, in reality, we believe in some sort of god of our own making. As has been said, “We shape our god, and then our god shapes us.”
The less intimate with someone you are, the less you know them, the easier it is to judge them. It’s very easy to judge the actions of people we hear about in the news. We don’t know them at all, so we can sit and point out there faults and stupidity all day long, really dehumanizing them when you think about it. But someone you know really well, spend a lot of time with, and care deeply for, you defend them–even their most ridiculous of actions if you love them deeply. You know them, so you have a deeper understanding of them, and see why they did what they did. It could be as simple as, “Hey, they’ve had a really rough week. Do you know what they’ve gone through lately?” Or, “If you knew their story from their growing up, you’d realize how well they’re actually doing and have adjusted to a somewhat normal life.”
We do the same with God. The less you know Him, the less you understand, and then the more we project and guess and speculate. We judge God. The less time we spend with God, the less intimacy we have, the less we know Him. The more our hearts stray from Him, and we become more and more distant. I’m not sure how you get to know God without a vibrant, open prayer life. How do you foster intimacy without communicating? And I’m not sure how well you get to know the God who Jesus revealed without immersing yourself in the gospel accounts of the New Testament. Otherwise, you’re likely to get to know…someone else, I guess.
And so we encourage one another every day so that we do not become hardened, distant. We need constant reminding of truth. We need encouragement from one another to get to know God for who God has revealed Himself to be.
Then we enter His rest. I think He says we enter His rest because when you become intimate with someone who loves you just for who you are, then, whenever you enter that person’s presence, it’s rest. You can be you, naked and unashamed, and it is beautiful. You experience their full embrace and feel you are, finally and thankfully, home.
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria