“AND THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE, THAT THEY KNOW YOU THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND JESUS CHRIST WHOM YOU HAVE SENT.“ (JOHN 17:3)
When we hear this word intimacy, i think right away we tend to put up some guards. At least I do. I have put these guards up to words like intimacy because for most of my life, especially early on, when i began to feel love or closeness with others, or give my own love away towards others; it has been cheated, walked on, abused, or generally otherwise misguided for purposes outside of God’s will for my life. You may be able to relate to this hesitation to the word intimacy in your own life. For myself, growing up in a home with a father that was absent, and a stepfather that was difficult to bond with, I learned that when i did truly feel deep feelings of closeness, they were soon damaged in one way or another.
For example, as I grew very close to my grandfather on my father’s side, Curtis E. Kurtz, the man that taught me how to fish, how to woodwork and craft with my hands, and the one that first pointed me to Christ; I remember the day my cousins and I were all playing on the dock at the lake waiting patiently for our turn to be pulled up on waterskis and perfect our slalom skills. As we goofed around, we’d always be weary of a bigger cousin trying to push us off the dock into the water prior to our readiness. This day I choose to make my move against my cousin, Brian, two years younger than me, and I gave him a shove. Off the dock he went, splashing into the water, and as i looked up at my grandad sitting in the boat, his eyes met me with a stern disapproval. Out loud, in front of the whole Kurtz family he said, “Brenden, now you go up to the cabin and you stay up there with grandma until we are done down here.” Despite me watching this trick be performed by my uncles and aunts many times to myself or others, Granda Kurtz had no tolerance for this from me. Especially, to my younger, slightly weaker cousin Brian.
Another example of intimacy damaged was the deaths of my best friend Eric, in a snowmobiling accident, in which Eric had asked me to join him one weekend during my college years. I had to decline his invitation yet the following Monday when I returned to school, i received the call from his brother, informing me of the accident. As Eric and Craig were speeding across the frozen lake, his sled hit a patch of water, and stopping in the ice, threw him over 300 feet to his death when his helmet impacted the ice first. The one most important friend I had since the 1st grade was gone in an instant and all the time and memories I had made with him seemed to disappear in comparison to my sadness. These are simply two examples of heartache that can happen once our intimacy with someone has been established.
You see, i have had other losses as well, such as the later passing of my Grandpa Kurtz, my failed first marriage, and a deadly love affair with drugs that almost cost me my life. My inability to stay intimate with Christ has made room for sin and selfishness to take over. When I think back over the years, I can see clearly now that lack of intimacy with God, with Jesus, with people has been one of my greatest hang-ups.
Let’s go back to the verse: “AND THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE, THAT THEY KNOW YOU THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND JESUS CHRIST WHOM YOU HAVE SENT.“ (JOHN 17:3)
More recently, around 8 years ago, my lack of intimacy, which by know you can use as a synonym with TRANSPARENCY, (That they KNOW you), my lack of this characteristic did in fact cost me everything. My career, my finances, my 2nd marriage, and even my relationships with my children. Through selfishness, sin, fear and doubt, I had managed to lie and cheat every person that was anything close to intimate with me. That is, the ones that REALLY KNEW me, were the ones I lied and cheated towards.
As with any sin, or covering of sin and hiding, MY SINS would find me out. Jesus reiterates the point in Luke 12, saying, “There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3). One day my wife looked over to me and with a sad and sorry voice, she said, “I’m done with this.” It did not go well for me. I fought the reality that she was serious about. I denied the fact that I had been an absent, non-intimate man, husband, father, and christian. My faith in Christ had NO ACTION and my life reflected that in my relationships. Fortunately for me, my intimacy problems had a cure.
In the summer of 2010, at that time my very distant wife invited me to a church service. I’m confident to this day it was not herself inviting me but God Himself speaking through her. She agreed to join me with the kids to visit this church and all I had to do was get there. After hearing the message shared about God using screwed up people to do HIS will, my heart had a softness I can still recall. As we tried to exit, or as I tried to exit the building, we were met by a man and his wife that seemed to be looking right through my soul. His stare at me had…. what I would call now… intimacy. They sat down with us and as another couple watched the children, they began to share with us their story and Heather, my wife, began to dump on them all of ours. Little did I know that moment, but Steve and Cheryl Yates went on to become and still are to this day, one of the most intimate relationships Heather and I have. Even more intimate than we are with our parents, or brothers and sisters. This was God’s hand in our struggle. Weeks meeting with this couple, turned into months, which in turn led us into the Restore Group they had led at this church. Those months of Restore with Heather soon turned into years, and here i stand, 8 years later, sharing our intimacy with you.
Can you feel how this works? God, our father calls us to be different. His love is unlike any human love we have other known. This is why HE WANTS TO KNOW US, to fully know us. Regeneration to me now is not just swaking up each day and fighting to live right but it is LAYING DOWN my wants, it is dying to ourself DAILY, that brings intimacy with Christ and others. If you aren’t familiar with the book of Thessalonians i encourage tonight to spend some time in it… but listen to this:
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
Thanks to others giving intimacy TO ME, I have been able to SEE the evidence of true intimacy in my life. When true Intimacy with God is happening there is no “goal”, it is the ACTUAL ongoing participation that is the REAL JOY. “AND THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE, THAT THEY KNOW YOU THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND JESUS CHRIST WHOM YOU HAVE SENT.“ (JOHN 17:3)
Did you catch that, “AND THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE” – Right now, right here. He is RIGHT HERE. After 8 years and many more to follow with Christ I can still remember that stare from my Grandpa Kurtz on the boat. You see he was acting as the father that was missing for me…. he was disciplining me for my actions because He loved me and cared for me and was being intimate. This was such great a picture of God my Father with my faith and actions with intimacy.
We want healing, God says “Yes!”
We want new, God says “YES!”
Today God may be saying to you, “RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, This is ETERNAL LIFE, That they KNOW ME the only true GOD, and Jesus Christ who I have sent.”