Intimacy with God; February 13, 2018

Jeremiah 11:5 “‘Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.”
I answered, “Amen, Lord.”

One of the interesting characteristics of Jeremiah’s ministry was his frank conversations with God. Time and time again we see him hearing God clearly and responding, just as we would in a conversation with someone we can see. That level of intimacy is something God wants with each of His children, but we tend to draw back from it for various reasons. In the first place, it requires a simple but rock-solid faith that God both exists and He cares – and is listening to us. We all fall short at times on one or more of those points! The next point is that our sinful nature doesn’t want to be accountable to God, so we try to hide from Him. That’s futile by definition, but we do it anyway. Intimacy with God requires the courage to let Him shine His light into every corner of our being, which is a major reason so few people strive for it. (John 3:19-21) The reason churches have so many baptized non-Christians in them is that we have forgotten repentance. Jesus didn’t just say, “Believe,” He said, “Repent and believe.” (Mark 1:15) Without repentance, an awareness and confession of our need for salvation and our utter inability to save ourselves, we aren’t born again as God’s children. Some people are born again in a very dramatic, “Damascus road” sort of experience, and for some it is more gradual, but repentance is essential for all.

Thinking about it, I have a lot in common with Jeremiah. That’s not to say I would like his ministry of pronouncing judgment, however! Like him, I come from a “priestly” family. (Jeremiah 1:1) My parents were missionaries, my paternal grandfather was a pastor, and my maternal grandfather was a seminary professor. Like him, I don’t think I ever doubted that God existed or that He cared. I remember going to my parents at age seven, expressing my decision to be baptized, but I had professed love for Jesus at least two years prior to that. The problem was, I don’t know how much awareness of sin I really had. My mother was baptized at five, but she shared with me (of course many years later) what she had done that gave her a sharp awareness that she was a sinner. It was after I was already a father myself that the Lord showed me the state of my heart, and I repented indeed. I won’t say that I wasn’t saved before that, but I can say without hesitation that I have been saved ever since! The Lord has given me a desire for intimacy with Him that still has its ups and downs, but it has become perhaps the major driving force in my life. I wish I acted like it more consistently! As a pastor, I desire intimacy with God for each of the believers in my care, and indeed for each of the people I encounter. I can’t force anyone to accept it, but I can at least let them know it is available, and how to receive it.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me continue to grow in intimacy with You and in effectiveness in drawing others likewise into intimacy with You, for our salvation and Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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