The Ease of Intimacy
What does an all-in relationship with God look like? It starts with understanding that He did not call you to a career, calling, purpose, or church relationship. He called you to build a life with Him, in a relationship that permeates all areas of your life. Marlita looks at the all-in relationship and explores fears we have about what might happen to our career if we go all the way in.
In the past couple of episodes, we’ve been talking about relationship. We’ve been talking about getting in touch with what God wants in a relationship with us; and what we think we’re involved in, in relationship with Him. In episodes 6 and 7, we talked about how this harmony between our faith, art, and career that we’ve been pursuing has to start with us and God having a unified understanding of what our relationship with each other is about. And, we have to understand where our career life fits in that relationship. Now, I’m assuming if you’ve come back to listen to episode 8, you’re ready to move forward in this relationship that we’ve been laying out in these past couple of episodes.
In this episode, I want to look at how this all-in relationship is lived out, particularly in our career life. So, let’s get to it.
The first thing for us to establish is that when we come into an all-in relationship with someone, that relationship is not confined to one area of our life. For instance, if we have a boyfriend, or girlfriend, our life with them is not just confined to our work life. It’s not just confined to our life at church. If I have a best friend, my friendship with them permeates all parts of my life. In the same way, an all-in relationship with God, first of all, is one that permeates all parts of your life.
God did not invite you to a career.
He did not invite you to a calling or purpose.
He did not invite you to a church relationship.
He invited you to build a life together, to walk through that life together. In the course of that life together, there will be career. There will be purposes that need to be tended. However, that’s not why He’s invited you to a relationship.
In the course of being together, there are things that He will need you to do for Him, just as there are things you’ll need Him to do for you. But you guys aren’t in relationship with one another just because of what you can do for each other. You guys are in relationship to build a life together –
a life of shared vision and purpose,
to walk that life together and enjoy each other as you walk that life together,
even while you’re doing career,
and even while you’re tending purposes.
The biggest barrier to living this all-in relationship is our misconception of what it looks like when we actually try to do it. I think we can all agree that relationship with God has been presented to most of us in a less-than-desirable way. From that, we feel like relationship with God is just too tedious. There are too many rules, too many things that we have to do that we can’t possibly fit into our already overwhelming schedule.
We don’t have time or the energy to pray or read our Bible for three hours every day.
We don’t even have time for one hour.
I mean, we want to get to know God more intimately but we can’t possibly measure up to what we imagine He wants from us. Nor do we want to walk around feeling guilty all the time because we failed Him.
Another thing we’re afraid of is what we might lose if we agree to go all-in. Does all-in mean that I have to leave my career and become a missionary for poor children in Uruguay? I mean, I don’t knock being a missionary but that’s not my walk.
Will I lose creative control?
Will I lose directional control over my art and career trajectory?
Does this mean that I won’t get to experience the career life that I’ve worked so hard for? It must mean that because there is no way that this is the career life for me that God would be pleased with.
Will I get my hopes up and trust in another person and be disappointed again; because I can’t take another person not doing what they said they would do. I just got myself put together from the last time. I’m in a good place and if that happens again, I don’t know if I’ll be able to recover this time.
Family, these are all misconceptions. True, they are misconceptions that didn’t just appear out of thin air. But they are misconceptions, nonetheless. And we have them because of what we’ve been taught, or what has been presented and demonstrated to us. But that doesn’t mean that they are correct.
Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The message translation says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
In Hebrews 4:9-11 of the Amplified version, it says, “so then there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God. For he who has once entered [God’s] rest has also ceased from the [weariness and pain] of his human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own. Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].”
Listen, life is difficult. Life is difficult. Difficulty doesn’t suddenly come because we’re in relationship with God. A different form of difficulty is introduced when we get into relationship, but difficulty itself is simply a part of life. The beautiful thing about being in a relationship with God is that He makes us overcomers, victorious. Actually, He has made us more than conquerors. He says I’ll show you how to get to where you want to go without it destroying you, breaking you down along the way. Walking with God is supposed to be the easiest, healthiest, most restful, nourishing thing that we can do in this life.
It’s supposed to be simple.
Just follow the voice.
Live your life and be attentive to that voice.
And when He speaks, follow it.
There’s no stress, no strain, no ritual, no quotas.
Just live and follow the voice.
And when God wants more than that, He has no problem asking you for it.
To follow that voice with confidence, we have to change two things:
One, our perception of where He is
Two, our perception of His interest in the everydayness of our career life.
1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of the Living God, and that the spirit of the God dwells in you.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own. In The Message Bible Deuteronomy 30:11 -14 says, “This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!”
Following His voice is not something that’s difficult to do. And it’s not something that you have to strive for or work hard for, or deny yourself something in order to do it. Think about text messages. The beauty of text messages is that they’re easy to use. And people are generally always able to respond to them. And I don’t have to do a whole lot just to ask a question, tell a joke and get a laugh, say I miss you, ask you what you want for dinner. I can just reach out, and it has the sort of immediacy that kind of feels like we’re just sitting right next to each other in a way that’s very different from the formality of a phone call or an email. There’s no prep time, no waiting until I have a block of time that I can set aside to call you, no making sure that I’m going to a place where I can hear you or where I have privacy. I can just text you. Just like I can say something to you if you were actually sitting next to me. Now, imagine this times a bajillion, trillion because God actually lives in you, so He is actually always right there.
All you have to do is say what you have to say.
When He talks, all you have to do is listen.
Now, sometimes texting is not enough. I may need a longer period of time, or have to talk to you about something that’s just too deep for text. Then, I just tell you I need to see you or have a phone call. God will do the same thing. If He needs more, He’ll tell you.
The second thing we have to get over is our perception of His interest in our daily life. Our tendency is to think that there are too many bigger, more important things going on in the world – so why would God care about the paint that I use?
And my question to you is, of all the bigger things going on in the world, why would anyone who cares about you care about the paint you use?
Because they care about you.
Psalms 56:8 NLT says this about God: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You’ve recorded each one in your book.”
Psalms 139:1-18 says:
“O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!”
Now does that sound like someone who wouldn’t be interested in the “mundanity” of your life and career? Luke tells us that God even counts the numbers of hairs on our head. That’s how into us He is!!
So, what does all this look like in our career life?
Creatively, He might tell you throw a little yellow on a spot when your painting. He might say take that line to the right a little more. In the dance studio, you might do a move and He might say turn your head to the right when you do that next time. Cross your right leg over the front step to the back.
Business-wise, we go on auditions, we’re signing contracts, we’re making decisions, we’re hiring people, firing people, making choices between locations. We’re doing all kinds of things. And the Holy Spirit might whisper and say go talk to the lady in yellow. You know what don’t sign that contract today. Go stand in the front on the left for this audition. Before you go on that addition put on that purple shirt that you have. Ask that man about optioning your movie. Ask Him to explain to you what that is.
Socially, He might tell you ask that young lady to lunch. Bring your boss flowers. Write that after a card and bring it to Him tomorrow. Stop by your agent’s office and just ask how he’s doing.
Now some might say this is all too weird, too religious. And I say no it’s not. If someone was sitting right in front of me, a colleague that I respected artistically, and they told me hey you should try putting some yellow right there, I would look and I would say oh okay.
Or if I was at the dance studio and I had a colleague sitting right there watching, and they saw what I was doing and said hey you know what the next time you do that you should try putting your head to the right, I wouldn’t think that was strange at all. Why, then, would I think it strange that God is dialoguing with me like that?
Psalms 139:17-18 says, “How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God? How great is the sum of them? If I should count them they would be more in number than the sand.”
Guys, He is God. He has enough capacity to handle the issues of our world and talk to you about the colors you use in your sketch.
I started a Kingdom Art Life home group and one of the things we talked about is how we develop this intimacy?
How do we begin to hear God like this?
How do we develop that confidence that what we hear is actually Him?
Well, let’s talk about the confidence issue first.
I was taught that the Word of God, the bible, trains our spirit to be able to recognize when the Spirit of God is speaking to us. For instance, I could tell you that your mother said something to me about you. Depending on what I say and how I say it, you would be able to tell me whether or not that actually came out of her mouth. You would know if that’s something she would actually say because you’ve lived with her. You’ve gotten used to the way she speaks. You’ve gotten used to the kinds of things that she actually would, and would not say.
The bible’s the same way.
It helps us understand the kind of person God is, and the kind of things He would and would not say.
Another way to look at this is if there are a crowd of people talking, and my mother says something, even if she were far away from me, I would recognize her voice because I know what that voice sounds like… even in a crowd of people.
Because I’ve spent my life listening to that voice.
A crowd cannot hinder my ability to know when my mom is talking. I recognize the unique resonance and timbre of her voice.
God is the same way.
The more you spend time with Him, the more you recognize His voice when He’s talking to you.
The other issue is how do we even begin to develop this intimacy with God in the first place?
And my question to you is how did you become close to any of the people that are in your life now?
The same way you became close with them is the same where you’re going to become close with God. He is God, yes, but He’s a person.
The same way you would develop intimacy with any person is the same way you develop intimacy with God.
Over this next week, I want you to really ask yourself what were the things you actually did to get to know someone and get close to them? And what are those same things you can use and do to get to know God and get closer to Him. Some of it is just working on our awareness that He’s there, always there.
He’s not something that we have to put on or take off. Sometimes we think this way, that if we forget “to put Him on,” like a coat, then we don’t have Him with us.
For some of us it’s just about developing the confidence, or getting over feeling silly that I could just start talking to Him without the formality of having to block out time, find a quiet space, put my hands together, get on my knees and pray. That I can just talk to Him because He’s right there. I could be in the middle of a sketch and just talk to Him. I could be choreographing and looking for a step and just talk to Him. I could be looking at resumes and just talk to Him.
One person in our home group said that she started talking out loud about everything when she was by herself. This is how she started to practice that someone was actually there.
TALK TO ME
How easy is it to receive God’s attention and interest in the way we described? Isn’t that what we all want…for someone to be that interested in the things we’re passionate about, to be ready to hear about it whenever we’re ready to talk about it…everytime? What is that like to think about that. Can you receive that? Is that going to take some mental rearranging? Talk to me.