Closeness vs. Intimacy

“A man may say, ‘I feel that my son is coming nearer to me as he gets older,’ and yet the son has lived by his father’s side since he was born has never been away from home for more than a day or so in his entire life.” (The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer)

I start my post today with this quote from this incredible book I am reading. It’s very profound. It takes what we have all been taught throughout our Christian lives and explains it on a level it has never been delivered before. I have to say with every chapter, I have been convicted but mostly profoundly affected. His teaching of God and our relationship with Him is very deep. I can only take in one chapter a day, but I find myself thinking about it throughout the day.

Yesterday’s chapter was about our closeness to God. Tozer talked about the difference between someone who has been with God intimately and someone who has not. He talks about the fact that once you have truly experienced God, nothing else will satisfy us. The thing that stuck out to me the most was the above excerpt. It really explained the difference between closeness and intimacy. Here the father talked about his son growing closer to him as he aged. If you are a parent you know there are different stages of closeness in your child’s life. It changes with the age. And as a Mom this example really made sense to me.

When your child is born, you are in complete and utter love with that child. You are the one to take care of him. He basically just lies there waiting to be fed, changed and soothed. You don’t mind because you know this stage will end soon. And when it does you have now a little toddler. That toddler still comes to you for the basic necessities, but he is more independent now. He can go off on his own for a while and play, until a new need arises. You take care to be sure he has all that he needs, but your relationship with him remains as the giver and he is the taker. As your child grows and grows, you spend more and more time training them in the ways of life. You show them how to dress themselves and tie their shoes. Eventually, they begin to fend for themselves more and more. They can make themselves breakfast, bathe themselves and even pick up after themselves. They spend less and less time with you because they don’t need you to do as much for them anymore. Then the dreaded teenage years hit. They begin to have an attitude. You have become stupid. They don’t want to listen and they don’t have any desire to please you anymore. This is still a time of training but there is also a separation that is beginning. They are spreading their wings a little more. They don’t need you for much. They can mostly do everything for themselves. And so, your relationship has changed again. Finally, they become adults. If you have a good relationship with them, they begin to desire intimacy with you. They come back asking for advice. They want to know what you did when you were faced with the same challenges. Your relationship has reached a new level.

You see, it’s the same in our relationship with God. He desires intimacy and we desire a vending machine. The older I get, the more I realize that I cannot see beyond my little world but God can. I want immediate relief and God wants eternal peace. If my relationship is only about getting what I need from God then I have not grown up. I have lived beside Him. He has provided for my needs but the rest of my life is independent of Him. He desires to be in a relationship that is not one-sided. He doesn’t just want to hear about what I want. He doesn’t just want to hear my complaints. He wants to know what is going on in my heart. He wants me to bring my deepest needs to Him. He desires to know me. But at the same time He wants me to know Him. He doesn’t want me to know only about Him or to know His character. He wants me to spend time knowing Him.

I think the basic need to be known and to know someone we care about is built into us. Over the years we have had relationships with people that have been maintained and those that have been broken. I know for myself, the relationships that mean something to me are with the people who make an effort to know me. They make time for me. They get to know me. They give something into the relationship, not just take. A one-sided relationship only lasts as long as the giver continues to give. Sooner or later, the giver gets tired and stops trying. Relationships require both individuals to make it work and be complete. It’s the same with God. He loves to give to us, but at some point we have to give back. We have to care about what He wants. We need to spend time with Him. Although God will never tire, our relationship with Him will always be stagnant until we make the effort. Spend time with God getting to know Him, not just putting in your requests for the day.

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