Two straight nights I’ve dreamed about sharing this blog with you. It seems to be the way my creative brain operates! Any time I prepare to teach or write, I’ve already done it multiple times while sleeping. I know, it’s a strange thing you may think; but it’s comforting to me to know that even while sleeping, God does a great work in my heart. Interestingly, the twice-over, midnight title for the blog seemed to suggest a quest for finding something hidden deep within. Finding Intimacy! October was my month to teach the ‘One Thing’ Home Bible Study, and though it was about the blindman in John 9, intimacy with God resonated strongly with me.
The experience of really knowing and being known by another person is what we call intimacy. An intimate friend is someone we feel very close to; they know us at a deep level. We desire to know and be known. It’s a two-way avenue. Trust is at the heart of intimacy. The more we trust someone, the closer we let them get to us. Trust is a precious gift…one to be given and one to be received! It takes a heart of courage and vulnerability.
The location of those conversations has occurred in the front seat of my car, on my sofa, standing by the car in a parking lot, sitting under a tree, on my porch and side by side on the piano bench, to name just a few. They were all sacred places! A time and place specifically carved out by Creator God and purposed for building deep relationships. Sacred places…It’s were intimacy is found. It's a moment to be fully yourself!
I have discovered, particularly this past weekend, that those sacred moments and places that continuously show up in my life are blessed gifts. They are little love gifts given by God just for me! My mountain excursion was one such gift, as I breathed in the cool air and looked over mountain views on this little family get-away, I felt the presence of God intimately speaking to my heart, “soak it in.”
Literally, I did soak it all in! Our first full day was a rainy one. I was up early enough though to enjoy coffee on the giant porch before the down pour began. The release of my tightly held shoulders slipped away as I heard the birds sing and the quiet of the morning begin to awaken the mountainside. It was a sweet time with the Lord, just me and Him…not really discussing much, but Him offering me a much-needed time of solitude in the mountains that I love so much. The colors placed in sight were just beginning to turn their vivid hues of deep red and gold on a blanket of deep forest green. The midst on the mountain reflected a hint of a rainbow that floated above the valley. Yes, a reminder once again of God’s faithfulness in and through all things.
Sacred places are where God shows up and gently reminds me of Himself, of His provisions, His care, and His heart for my life. Sacred places become evident when I intentionally take notice. I’m sure there have been many times in my life when He has offered those spaces and I haven’t taken time to stop and soak it in! Often, He has to intervene and get me to slow down or stop, just so He can pour more of Himself into me. I’m guilty of depleting quickly and running my tank low. The source of His life-giving fuel never runs dry and is readily available to those who will stop and fill up! I’ve come to realize that it’s not just about stopping to refill…but also, it’s about stopping to take notice, and soak in the many sacred places where He longs to meet us. Remember, trust is at the heart of intimacy. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in today, stop and soak in God’s trustworthy heart for you. Take notice and see past the obvious, for therein lies intimacy that is Holy. And what is the meaning of holy? Set apart – Separated. We need to remember to take those moments, for if we don’t…they will certainly find us!
Other benefits that come from an intimate heart toward God is faith, courage and bravery! As I thought about this concept this morning, the Heroes of the Faith flashed before me. During hairy situations and seemingly impossible tasks, these heroes accomplished great things but only because of their faith in God. They were chosen by God and were intimately close with Him. Their lives were amazing and you can read about them in Hebrews chapter 11.
I wonder what their personal diary or journal might have written in it? I would assume, probably a lot like David’s with cries of frustration, shouts of praise, questions of uncertain outcomes, and reflections of God’s faithful past and hopeful thoughts of the future. Yep, some things never change! Isn’t that what we do whether we write them down or not? It’s all a part of trusting His heart for our lives. Intimacy. Allowing Him to do His good pleasure in and through us. Him drawing us closer to Himself so that we may know and be known…the sacred place where He longs to meet with us.
So again, I challenge you to stop and soak in God’s trustworthy heart for you, whatever situation you find yourself in today. Take notice and see past the obvious, for therein lies intimacy that is Holy, and the Spirit of God will fill you with courage and bravery. Pause to reflect on God's goodness and faithfulness...you'll find yourself learning to live by faith.
Hebrews 10: 32-38
32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,
33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property,
since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
36 For you have need of endurance,
so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
37 For,“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
Spend some time reflecting and write down the moments that you consider sacred and a gift from God. Do those times show up as randoms moments when the patterns of your life call for special attention? Do you often take notice in the time and places and relish them as love gifts from heaven? Take a moment now to whisper a prayer thanking Him for those sacred places. Perhaps today you need a courageous heart to help you face the next hard moment. Don't throw away your confidence.
Here's the thing, we have need of endurance and our Father is right there, cheering us on! He provides the Holy Spirit to guide us to do His will and to comfort us when life is tough. He knows us well and desires Himself to be known because of His great love for us. It's a perfect love, with perfect trust, for faithful hearts. It's a Sacred Place.
When life throws us a curve ball, often fear begins to ease its way in. It's a tactic that the enemy uses to gain a stronghold in our life. We need to remember that in every situation, God is ever present! He allows nothing to slip through His fingers that He hasn't already planned. When our path is darkened by unfamiliar and daunting circumstance, we must remember that God goes before us and also has our back!
Today we welcome Margaret Kemp to share one of her traveling experiences that turned her eyes of fear into eyes and heart that trusts God. He is our refuge and our strength; an ever present help in time of trouble.
When darkness descends and you feel unsafe, who’s got your back?
That’s what I wondered when I found myself walking down unfamiliar streets late at night.
The sidewalk was almost deserted as my husband and I traveled in the darkness towards our hotel. Earlier, we’d brushed shoulders with others strolling the banks of the river: couples walking hand in hand, groups of boisterous young people returning from the bars and cafes, sidewalk bouquinistes locking up their books and art prints inside the green painted boxes. Tourists as we were, we’d stopped to admire the city’s illuminations and to photograph the glimmers of light on the water.
But we’d lingered too long, and once we reached the metro station, we discovered a metal gate blocking our access. We’d missed the last train.
By that time the city was quieter, except for the clack, clack, clack of my heels on the pavement and the infrequent whoosh and roar of passing cars on the street.
I glared suspiciously at the occasional passerby smoking a cigarette. Why was he out so late? (Why were we out so late?)
And the pair of men deep in conversation in an unfamiliar language…what were they conspiring?
Did the pickpockets work this late at night? I clutched my purse tighter.
Why did I wear heels?
Was it dangerous to walk the streets at this hour? I was a visitor in town; I didn’t know.
On the map, our hotel seemed only a short distance away. We marched on, putting one sore foot in front of the other. With each advancing step, the sidewalk seemed to grow longer, as if it were one long rope of playdoh, stretching, stretching…
I wondered how far my little legs could carry me. Just as I began to doubt I had the physical stamina to reach our destination, God provided a way home.
A young man on a bicycle taxi stopped to ask if we wanted a ride. We gladly hired him to carry us home.
When I couldn’t go any further on my own power, God provided a way. It’s been like that throughout my life. God has walked beside me through uncertain times. And when I couldn’t walk another step, He carried me.
But sometimes I forget God’s faithfulness, and I forget my all-powerful Heavenly Father has unseen forces at His disposal. I focus instead on the dangers--real or imaginary--around me.
Fear fences us in, but faith frees us to delight in the Lord.
As a young child, I was taught that the world is a dangerous place. I needed to be wary, to take precautions. As an adult, I continued to expand my catalog of Things to Fear, and in the course of my life I encountered Frightening Things I hadn’t even thought to include in the catalog. Fear is still a real opponent I battle.
How many potentially delightful days have been spoiled because we allow fears to fence us in?
Fear still tries to bully me, but I’m getting better at confronting it. When I feel Fear closing in, I stop and take a deep breath before responding.
I ask myself a few questions:
Is the threat real or imagined? If the threat is imagined, I need to look Fear in the eye and call its bluff.
If the danger is real, before I do anything else, I stop and pray, trusting that the God of Angel Armies has my back.
I talk to God about my problem, asking if there are any steps I need to take to deal with the problem.
Get more information? Make an appointment? Ask for help from friends or experts? Devise a plan?
If Fear still attacks, I recite Scripture. The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is a powerful weapon. (Eph. 6:17)
And I remind myself the God of Angel Armies goes before me. He walks beside me. He’s got my back.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of host is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come. Behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts (angel armies) is with us:
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
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