“Jesus is saying to you that you need to come away with Him, to the secret place.” The lady praying for us whispered in my ear, as soft worship music played in the background, and people streamed out of church, and the baby wriggled madly in my arms, hanging herself upside down. And I knew that. I knew I needed to be spending more time with God, but it was more than that; I needed intimacy with God.
This coming away with Jesus to a secret place, was a phrase I heard over and over in my teen years and I thought it meant having some great revelation and vision like the prophets of the Bible every time I sat down with God, and feeling His presence whirling around the room. When that didn’t happen I’d get disappointed. It sounded mysterious and out of reach for anyone who didn’t have 3 hours a day to spend with God, but that is just a lie to prevent us spending any time with God. It can be three minutes.
Photo Credit: Suzanne Rowe, author of China Ramblings
What does it mean to come away to the secret place? I’ve been pondering these words over the last few weeks, and I’ve come to some conclusions that have somewhat surprised me, and help me also see my marriage in a new light.
To Come Away – is a literal walking away from the stuff that’s distracting you, TV, social media, phone, facebook, even that lovely Christian novel or teaching book to spend that time quietly praying or reading the Word. Those things are not bad in and of themselves, but where they are placed in our lives are the issue. I’m talking to myself here about not being quite so quick to pick up my Kindle in a spare moment when I’m breastfeeding and to quiet my heart before God and pray quietly.
Praying in tongues is my favourite way to refresh, recharge and refocus. I find that as I pray to God in this unknown language it focuses me on what’s on His heart. It brings to mind sometimes people that I haven’t thought of for weeks, and situations that I otherwise wouldn’t know about. It’s a gateway into the prophetic. Of course this is not the only way to pray, just one of many.
Intimacy With God – More than Just Prayer and Reading the Word
Sometimes I’ve been guilty of coming to God just wanting an answer on a specific situation, but is this the way we build any relationship?
Does anybody want to spend time with someone who just wants something from them, and this has just been a big mindset shift for me. To be comfortable enough to sit with God, beyond just getting a great blog post idea or the answer to the problem I’m seeking and just sit and linger in His presence, whether He’s speaking or not.
Photo Credit: Shelly Neideck
Jesus spent a lot of time ministering to others but He also regularly escaped to spend time alone with God.
We know this but need reminding so often.
It can begin as a spiritual discipline but the more we spend time with Him, the more we want, and the less we do, the harder it is to get back into it.
I really thought I had intimacy with God. My life looked good. I was writing blog posts all the time but I realized I was only spending just enough time with Him to get a good idea for a blog post, and I was freaked out about what He might say about me personally, so I didn’t linger.
. . . And then all those blog ideas dried up and it was about me and Him, not everyone else.
I realised one day standing in church that I wasn’t really hungry for God anymore and I had to pray honestly and say God, I’m not hungry anymore, but make me hungry again cause I don’t want to live in anything less than what You have for me.
And it was a slow process to take me back to my first love, and where you are dreaming big for God . . . but I realized it was about focusing on God not the dreams.
I asked Him the question, “God, what fears prevent people from having intimacy with You?” I wanted a nice five point answer to edit this blog post, but from that God started renovating my foundations.
The secret place is a place where it’s just you and Him and only you know what really happens in that moment. It is a place you can be totally honest with Him, and in that place you experience intimacy. You can’t be truly intimate with someone when you are trying to hide bits of yourself. It’s in this place that He speaks and also uses His Word to adjust the lenses we have on life, they way we see situations, ourselves and Him.
And I don’t want to make it seem like I have all the answers together for this journey but just share in a raw honest way the thought processes and resources that have helped me dig deeper.
A favourite resource in really building this beyond just reading my Bible and scurrying onto the next thing, have been Lana Vawser’s books Desperately Deep and The Prophetic Voice of God. As a teenager she realised that the way she would get to know a friend would be to arrange to have coffee with them and ask questions, and so she began to literally block out time to have ‘Coffee With Jesus’. She would sit down with her journal and Bible and spend time asking Him questions and allow Him to guide her to passages of Scripture. She talks about what God sounds like and how He loves to use creativity to speak to us. As I’ve written in the past Hearing from God is not just about a voice.
These books make you hungry for a deeper relationship, and although we may not have the time of a teenager, Lana is now a mother to three little boys but still has that coffee time with Jesus because she prioritises it.
And sometimes you don’t feel safe in that time with God, you are afraid of what He might say and Lana totally delves in here, so that this time with Jesus becomes something we can all do, not just a few spiritually elevated ones. While some books about hearing from God are hard to read and understand, I wolfed down Lana’s Kindle book in a day and went back and ordered the hard copy. It was so real and relatable.
I bought both her newly released book and her older book because I wanted to see where she was at 10 years ago and it gave me such encouragement to see where my thought process can be in ten years time.
Books like Lana’s and also Heidi Baker make you realise how much more God has for you, how deeply He wants you to feel His love, they make you hungry to have this sort of relationship for yourself and can become a diving board for this relationship as long as we don’t just stop short and say that was a nice book, but don’t put it into practice.
While Lana spends time with her Bible having ‘coffee with Jesus’, Heidi Baker shares about finding Jesus on walks, whilst snorkeling and riding her bike and I can’t wait to start walking around the beautiful carrot fields at our new home and hearing God in the fresh air.
This truth has been slowly working it’s way from my head to my heart.
As I have been pondering how to protect my own time with Jesus over a period of months, the analogy of marriage has come to mind many times.
In marriage, most of the time you are surrounded by other people, family, co-workers, friends etc, and in our Christian walks its similar. The only way for that marriage to truly be solid though is in intimacy. We don’t always feel like it, but it is what separates that relationship from every other. It’s about faithfulness and protecting that relationship. Whether it’s marriage or our time with God, if we aren’t protecting it, we allow other influences to come in.
In marriage it doesn’t always have to look romantic, our legs don’t have to be shaved. With God, it’s not always going to be perfectly quiet and the kids might be hanging around, your coming away might be in the shower.
My favourite resource in regards to marriage and how to truly protect it with intimacy has been Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage by Mark Gungor.
Like the title suggests its fun and funny, and you learn best when you’re laughing and disarmed through humour. Mark explains not only how male and female brains work with practical applications for communication but also what porn and masturbation actually does to the brain, how to be free of it and build yourself a good foundation. It’s pricey, but it’s a resource I would buy as a wedding present for those getting married, but it’s not just for newly weds. My husband’s parents found it incredibly helpful even after 30 years of marriage.
And one more thought about coming away . . . I think it can be valuable at times to get away from home and be refreshed in a different setting. It’s certainly not a replacement to your everyday relationship with God, and I’m not advocating hopping from one conference to another to hear from God, we need to be mature children who can hear for ourselves, but we are all parts of the body and each have a different part of the picture.
There can be something so special about fellowshipping with others in a camp or conference setting, that you just don’t get from a podcast.
After a bunch of ladies from our Bible Study spent some time going to the Colour Your World women’s conference, we were discussing the value of conferences and it was put forward that our walks with God should be solid day in and day out regardless. And they should, but in the Old Testament God knew the value of getting His people to Come Away from their daily activities to spend time with Him for the different feasts He orchestrated, and I think it’s something that we have lost in our busy worlds.
The point is at times we need to get away from our normal distractions for a holiday or as my Dad says, Holy Day or to surround ourselves in an atmosphere where there are many hungry people seeking God. Either way good stuff happens as we make Him a priority, and it’s something we certainly need to work on as a family.
I hope this has encouraged you to keep pressing in and on towards God.
He promises that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. James 4:8
What is your favourite way to experience intimacy with God?