Let’s pretend that we are having coffee. I love grabbing coffee with friends. Hot steamy cups in hand. They are mirrors of the warmth of conversation, smoky tendrils of steam lift from the coffee and mix between us, our souls interacting and finding their oneness with the other. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but that’s a pretty amazing picture of what I’ve been learning so much about these past few months, intimacy.
Just for a moment, I want to share what in my heart about intimacy with you, and then I’ll share what’s been going on these past few months. This topic of intimacy is so grand, and I’d hate to leave our pretend coffee without sharing the depths of my heart with you.
I’ve been learning that Jesus is the fund of my intimacy. What a delightful realization that He is at once the supplier of the intimacy my heart longs for and the receiver of my greatest intimacy. Oh, before I traipse any further through our chat when I say intimacy, I am not talking about the 50’s euphemism for sex. I’m talking about what your heart and mine all long for, to be seen and to be completely known.
What a huge desire we all have for intimacy. Some of us know it well, and others of us struggle through life slaying dragons we name by other names. Truly, if we found the loose scale on the breast of that beast, its point of weakness, we’d lift it to find the word “loneliness” scrawled beneath. This is the true identity of many of humanity’s woes.
We all long to be truly known by the people we love. And yet, what we most desire we find to simultaneously be one of the scariest things imaginable to enter into. It is the warmth of the fire we long to touch, but fear its burn. What is more terrifying than rejection? “Bull!” might interrupt one’s thoughts, “I am not so weak that someone rejecting me could hurt me, or keep me from doing what I want. I am stronger than that.” But, isn’t this the wound that marks all humanity? Isn’t this the common thread across all peoples? We all bear the mark of rejection by someone in our lives. At some point, someone’s words made the last jab for the knock-out. Someone taught us all that it was unsafe to reveal our heart. At some point, we erected walls and locked the gates; if others were not trustworthy to care for our hearts, then it was going to be us that protected ourselves. “No one will ever hurt me again.”
It is a journey to come out of the dark forest of loneliness. Initially, we have to acknowledge that we long for intimacy and mourn the time that we’ve run from it. Then we have to relearn how to let others in.
This could get quite long, but suffice it to say for now that what I’m discovering (maybe I should say rediscovering because I feel I had known this before but had forgotten) is while our hearts long for intimacy with those around us, it’s Jesus that ultimately satisfies our hungry hearts. Our brothers and sisters are but finite wells of love, for their love isn’t even their own, “… for love is from God…” (1 John 4:7) What we long for from those who surround us doesn’t even come from them. It’s like going to the bank to cash a check believing that the money handed over came from the teller’s own wallet. Humans are the delivery system of God’s love. Depending on the delivery system instead of the patron Himself is a quick way to disappointment. What happens when your spouse/friend/family member has nothing to give? Do we get mad that we leave empty-handed? Do we feel denied what we feel we deserve? Do we press in and serve thinking that if we pour in more we’ll get a greater return?
But, Jesus is standing alongside, full of the very love we faint for. The banquet table is set and He’s prodding us with his elbow to gain our attention. “Look at the bounty of love I have prepared for you! Eat and drink! Be merry!” The invitation has been made. The invitation to the Love Feast has been extended!
When Catherine of Siena was asked to describe her experience of God, she responded, “He is pazzo d’amore, ebro d’amore…”—crazed with love, drunk with love. This was a contemplative nun of the 1300s describing God’s love in what some might deem an offensive way! “Crazed and drunk with love?! It is too vulgar of a description…” Or, is it the reality of how God feels about us? If God is love (1 John 4:8), then that means He is the standard of complete and unadulterated love. Think of the moment you felt love for someone most strongly. Some have described the experience as if their heart might burst with being so full of love. The experience of loving someone deeply can be so strong that it can feel euphoric. And if that is our experience as humans living with a low threshold of receiving love, what must it be like to experience the full weight of love… the full expression of love in the form of God? What would it mean to you, to know that God is so in love with you… He is actually drunk with love for you? That He is actually crazed with love for you?
Jesus is offering us the exact thing we were created for, the love of the Father. I have been learning to open my heart to Him in the same way that I’d open my heart to my neighbor, and say, “Jesus, I let you in. I let you see me.” I have been learning to turn to Jesus, depending on Him to fill the need I thought could be filled by people. Seems foolish to think that we could offer Him anything in our heart that He doesn’t already know, but the very act of choosing to let Him in is the very gift over which He swoons with delight. It feels exactly the same the way I turn and open up to Him as I would to my closest friend, and yet, His love spills out over me more abundantly than any love I’ve ever known.
Have you tasted this love?! It is the water that quenches our thirst. How desperate are we for it?
Something else that is so crazy is that He wants us to taste His love even more than we want it. I’ve found that He brings little reminders to me through the day to take a sip. A flutter of the heart, a touch on the shoulder (I literally feel his physical touch), the time on the clock (Jesus always brings my eyes to the clock on double times… in fact, I just looked at the clock and it says 12:12!!!! I just freaked out! He spoke to me once that double times represent Him and me…), whatever it is, He draws my attention to Him and reminds me to imbibe. He wants us to know this love. He cannot help himself!!!
Here is the point. This is the culmination of all I’d like to say over our sharing of coffee and spirit. Jesus is the most amazing lover we’ll ever know. He always accepts us and receives us. He is our prize… what an amazing prize it is to be seen and completely known. Let us not fear to step into this intimacy with our God like we have feared intimacy from our fellow humans. Our God is truly good and trustworthy to let Him see inside of us. Let us not fear the words that we will hear when He sees our hearts. I promise the words He will speak to you will be words of affirmation and love.