The Freedom of Silence
Recently, I was asked how I find intimacy with God. Quite honestly, I was relieved to have an answer at all, albeit one that seems, even to me, a tad avant garde. That word intimacy is probably the scariest word in the english language to me. intimacy: Noun-close familiarity or friendship. There is no hiding in intimacy. No protection. No safety. When you are intimate with someone you are all in, bearing your soul and, in my mind, waiting for the ball to drop. I understand now that this view of intimacy stems from being hurt. Because I blamed God for all of the pain I experienced in life, I built a great, big fortress around my heart and avoided intimacy with Him for fear of being hurt, yet again. I was scared that if I put my heart back out there, if I opened up to Him even just a little, He would let me down. And it wasn’t just Him. This false sense of protection carried over to hard earthly relationships as well. I spent my days making sure that the people who hurt me most could not get near to me to crush my heart again. It kind of worked. I felt protected and a little more safe. But with this sense of control came a desolate life of solitude which brought death to my soul. No people. No God. Just emptiness. Nothing but a drought quenchable only by relationship and intimacy.
How do we move out of our carefully dug trenches and back into relationships? How do we find intimacy with God when everything in us wants to run? I have found that the more God reveals His true character to me, the more I grow to trust Him. And the more I trust God, the easier it is to build intimacy here on earth. When the unwavering, matchless love of a good God fills your heart, it becomes less scary to love and invest in earthly relationships. We gain the confidence to jump knowing that we can only fall as far as God’s hands. No matter what is said to us, or done to us or thought about us, God is still good and always loves us unconditionally. He is our strength and our shield. And oh how intimate is being with someone who loves us no matter what! Someone who promises He always wants the best for us and that He will never abandon us. It's cyclical you see: The more we know the Real God, the more we trust Him. And the more we trust Him, the easier it becomes to love others without fear.
This becoming intimate again not only requires a revelation of God’s true character but it also requires redefining what intimacy really is. It looks so different in my life now. When I was younger, the intimacy I had was a very narrow window of performance driven obedience. There was no power or depth or intensity. It was small and therefore did not hold up in the winds of life. It did not support me when I hurt. It did not come through for me in times of loss because I only knew a shell of the One who longed to comfort me. As God has revealed just how good and big he really is, I realize how vast intimacy with Him can be. It cannot be constrained to the normal and expected ways of our past. It is new and exciting and can only grow deeper as you learn of his faithfulness to you. As you begin to see God in all of life, the good times and the bad, you will grow to trust His love for you and that is intimate. He was there. He is there. He will be there. You can lean into Him. It's okay to come out of hiding because He is your fortress of protection.
How will you redefine intimacy? What will it look like to crawl out from under the covers and pursue God? One of the ways I am finding intimacy right now is through the freedom of silence. I rarely use words with God. As a writer, this seems almost unthinkable and as a Christian it seems almost unsayable. I have lived much of my life feeling guilty for my struggling prayer life. For some reason words are just scary with God. It feels hard and tiresome and staged. Perhaps I am tired of feeling and if I put things into words for God and I feel the pain of life, I fear I may never crawl back out. Or maybe God just doesn’t make sense to me in words. The way He works and the things He does in my life transcends the words I have in my vocabulary. It’s tricky with God because he just IS. He is the beginning and the end of everything. He is not just beautiful but He actually IS beauty. He IS love. He IS faithfulness. He IS. This concept really cannot be explained in words and He even foretold of this phenomenon in His word. He says His ways are not our ways and His thoughts not ours. He knew we would never really understand the depth and breadth of his person.
But lately I have realized my communion with God is deepest when I don’t worry about having words. When I don’t think about what to say, that is when the intimacy is the greatest . And, it is also when He speaks the loudest to my heart. I can listen when I am not talking. And somehow, in a way I struggle to explain, I pray without words. It is pictures and feelings and truth and scripture and life all whisked together in this sweet little bundle. And I know He hears me. And I think this is okay.
It is time to take off the shackles of expectation and explanation. It is time to dig deep and rely on what He tells my heart. I know there is more power than I can fathom through communion with Him and I want it. I crave it. I love the sensation of power as it travels through my heart and into my hands. It is this power that heals, not the words. It is this power that enables, not the words. And it is this power that saves, not the words. For He is the power and He absolutely will not be constrained by our words or lack thereof. He longs to use our hearts and minds as vessels for His strength and power if we will just relinquish the control we think we need. If we will just rest and be and surrender to what He wants to do through us, He will do it. and oh how intimate is being used in this way by the one who has the power to create, save and love with a passion far greater than anything we could ever imagine!