Our relationships can be organized into five stages, based on their intimacy. Every relationship begins as a casual one, and some progress to deeper levels of intimacy.
- Stage 1: Casual—I speak as an acquaintance (safe but shallow talk)
- Stage 2: Beginning Trust—I speak of what I think and feel
- Stage 3: Deep Trust—I share my dreams, frustrations, mistakes, and fears
- Stage 4: Intimacy—I sit quietly with my friend, experiencing a presence beyond words
- Stage 5: Union—I become like that person, speaking, feeling, and acting with his reactions
The same is true in our relationship with God. As children of God, we are all equally loved, yet we do not all experience the same depth of intimacy with God. This is because God offers the depths of relationship with Him to all of us, but our level of intimacy with Him is up to us. We get to choose. This is why it’s important to spend time with God.
In Luke 2, when Jesus was just 12 years old, He traveled to Jerusalem with his parents and their relatives and friends for the annual Passover Feast. After the festivities were over, they set out for home. However, on the second day, they discovered that Jesus was not actually with them.
So they returned to Jerusalem and found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the religious teachers, listening and asking questions. When His parents found him, they asked why He had stayed behind, giving them all a fright. Jesus’ answer shows us, even from a young age, the priority of His focus.
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
In other words, Jesus was saying, “My focus and objective, the core of who I am, is My Father and His business.” We too can develop this kind of focus and intentionality in our relationship with our Father. We simply need to practice His presence. Like Jesus, we need to make conversation with the Father our way of life, not just a discipline.
Many people are hungry for God, hungry to experience a deep, intimate, and ongoing awareness of the love of the Father. This is the purpose and result of conversation with Him. When practiced consistently, speaking directly with Him and actively listening to His voice leads to a connected relational lifestyle. In other words, practicing two-way conversation with God will eventually enable us to live with an awareness of God’s presence and love with us, even in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.
Of course, God is with us all the time, whether we are aware of Him or not. He lives within every believer. However, practicing awareness of His presence at all times enables us to live out the abundant new covenant life He has given us.
This may seem weird or impossible to those who have not experienced it, but it is both simple and possible. When we received new life in Christ, He restored our relationship with the Father, and we now have access to Him at all times. His Spirit lives within us, and we have the mind of Christ (see Rom. 8:9–11; 1 Cor. 2:16).
Further, as a good Father, He is always thinking about us and speaking to us. All we need to do to encounter God’s love is to be still and look at Him. It really is that simple. When we do this regularly, we begin to live a lifestyle of connection with our Father. We begin to continually experience His presence—living under the influence and in the overflow of His love for us. This is not something reserved for the super-holy; it should be the reality for every believer.
This is an excerpt from my new book Loved Like Jesus.
I wrote it because I want you to experience the deep love that your heavenly Father has for you. Living from this reality as a much loved son or daughter, you can rest in a confident connection with Him and experience abundant living and lasting freedom.
Order my book today for yourself and an extra copy for a friend, your pastor and/or your small group.
Be blessed, my friends.
Thanking Him for you,