“And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)
I’m sure every one of the disciples would have said, “Jesus is my best friend.” They walked the village streets and dusty country roads together and listened intently as He talked. But they didn’t just listen – they talked, too, and without inhibition. Such an intimate companionship! Do you ever wish you could have been there? Jesus anticipated our loneliness. He promised to send another Comforter who would not just walk with us but who would actually be in us (John 14 :15-21). He was telling us, “I love you with an everlasting love. I won’t leave you orphaned.”
The God kind of love is more than my love for Him expressed in worship and praise. Much more. It’s His love for me! As in marriage, love is the bridge that must reach out from both sides if ever there is to be a union .
Levels of intimacy. Consider the following six levels of intimacy in a human relationship:
- Muriel and I met and liked one another. We’d get together occasionally and talk about things of mutual interest.
- Then love began to fill the relationship, so each of us began to move out of our comfort zones. Muriel tried to figure out football, and I dragged myself to art museums. But still we didn’t touch certain topics.
- Eventually we reached the stage of mutual trust and agreed that nothing is off-limits-we’ll fully share our hearts, no secrets.
- Then we were married and intimacy was complete, or was it? We hadn’t been together long enough to have pain. But we did enjoy one another’s companionship and moments of delight.
- We hit the difficult times and ran to embrace one another in shared agony.
- Finally, my life came to the place where fun wasn’t all that fun if Muriel wasn’t with me; heartache was almost unbearable if she didn’t share it. It was as if the other was there even when she/he wasn’t; and when we were apart, the desire to be together became a gnawing hunger. Outsiders couldn’t disturb the freedom and comfort between us.
Reflect on your relationship to God and, in the list above, consider the level of human relationship that parallels most closely your present experience of God. Actually, there’s a seventh level, a closer intimacy than Muriel and I could ever experience, because we’re finite humans. Such intimacy can be experienced only with God, as we shall see.
It’s so good to be best friends with God! But there’s a level of intimacy above basic friendship.
Daily Companionship. Walking daily with Him. Companioning. Have you thought about how God-intoxicated you are? Since beginning your quiet times, has your daily time with God increased? Has your sense of God’s companionship in that daily time grown closer and more real?
Constant Awareness of His Presence. At age 20 I discovered the motto of Frederic Franson, the pioneer who founded 5 Scandinavian mission agencies at the close of the 19th century. Franson’s life theme was CCCC-Constant Conscious Communion with Christ. The moment I heard it my heart leaped. “That’s what I want, Lord!” I cried out. And God heard my prayer. For about 2 months that summer I was not only always conscious of the Lord’s presence, I seemed to be constantly, consciously conversing with God. But then the feeling of closeness slipped away. I pled for the return of that experience, but it never came back. I’m not sure why He gave me that foretaste of heaven nor why He withdrew it. Was it something like Paul’s brief visit to “the third heaven,” not intended to be permanent, not designed for daily human experience? Yet the mystics down the ages testify of a life pattern of constant conscious communion with Christ. Perhaps God would give you that high level of intimacy if you sought it. Don’t let my experience discourage you. In the meantime, until that day when we all have such a life-filling experience in His presence, I can promise something very special: a constant relationship of intimacy, an uninterrupted awareness of the Spirit’s presence.