I have a confession. I really like chick flicks, movies in which Mr. Right meets Miss Right, they fall in love, experience a crisis that rips their relationship apart, then make up with a kiss.
I like these movies because they speak to a place deep inside me that longs for romantic love. However, I know I will never find total satisfaction even if I could experience the romantic love of the movies because it's not the highest aspiration of mankind or the zenith of fulfillment. If it were, then a scriptural command to love romantically would be our greatest calling. Instead, it's to love God most (Matt. 22:37-40). In His love, we can find fulfillment that no human can provide.
Take these steps to help you experience an intimate love relationship with God.
One of my girlfriends was lonely and frustrated that God hadn't delivered her greatest desire: a husband. Never married and 40, she was tired of praying and waiting and waiting and waiting, but most of all she was convinced that her life was somehow less-than. "Being single is not the abundant life!" she stated emphatically.
I certainly identified with the sometimes heart-wrenching emotions of feeling like the only girl without a date to the prom. I empathized with her loneliness, her cries late at night when only God can hear and her zillion prayers for a man she wasn't even sure exists. But the absence of abundant life?
Our conversation sent me running for my Bible where I found John 10:10.
"The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full."
The word life jumped off the page. I had to look up its meaning. In the definition, I found the prescription for my friend's sickness of heart: God Himself is the abundant life that both she and I seek—not relationship with a man. The Greek word for life is zoe (the original language) and means:
"life, referring to the principle of life in the spirit and the soul. (emphasis mine). [Zoe is] all the highest and best that Christ is, which He gives to the Saints. The highest blessedness of the creature."
Life. Inside of me. Inside of you. In the spirit. In the soul. God-given. The highest blessing we can have this side of heaven. Christ Himself.
The first step to developing an intimate (and fulfilling) love relationship with God is to admit that the abundant life He promises will never be found in another person. Instead, as the definition of zoe (life) shows, true abundant life is internal and it's found in Christ alone.
Don't get me wrong; God created us to experience human love, and romance can add a wonderful dimension to life. But romantic love will never be able to trump an intimate love relationship with God. Frankly, God likes it this way because He doesn't want any contenders for your heart; He's jealous for your affection (Ex. 34:14).
This describes my relationship with Christ. He has comforted me as I have cried, directed me, taught me, rebuked me, guided me and loved me. There have been times when I have thought that my heart would burst with emotion for Him. Who could understand the depth of my relationship with Him but me and my Savior? This is true intimacy with God: when we feel that no one else would totally understand, even if we tried to explain, because relationship with God is personal.
If you haven't ever committed yourself to a personal relationship with Him, it's not fraught with difficult requirements and religious duties. He doesn't ask that you change yourself before you commit yourself to Him; He just asks that you come as you are, confess your sin to Him, recognize your need to have your sins forgiven and accept His gift of forgiveness that He has offered to you through His death on the cross (Matt. 27:1-66, 2 Cor. 5:21). After you have done this, you can begin a life-long conversation with Him which is part of the abundance of zoe.
Just as close relationship with another person requires conversation, so relationship with God is the same. Conversing with Him happens through reading the Bible (His main way of communicating with those who love Him) and prayer (a two-way conversation between you God).
When you pray, God is not asking for a formula; He doesn't want you to pretend to be something that you are not. He doesn't want you to only praise Him, never ask Him for anything, or to say particular phrases to make yourself sound "religious." Instead, He just wants you to tell Him what is on your heart and mind, just as you would with a trusted friend (1 Peter 5:6-8).
As you pray, you will learn how to hear God's voice, just as Jesus says those who know Him do (John 10:27-29). However, remember that it takes time to learn how to accurately hear Him. Sometimes you may know He is speaking to you through the Holy Spirit, other times you may not be sure. But the more you understand who God is through His Word and your mind is changed, the more you will be able to discern when He is speaking to you and when He is not (Rom. 12:2).
When I look back on my relationship with Jesus since I came to know Him over 20 years ago, I'm not sure where I would be without other precious believers who showed me a picture of Him.
One woman befriended me and taught me a tremendous amount about Christ. She showed me His love; read the Bible (His Word) with me, encouraged me and prayed for me. Without her care and concern, I'm not sure how I would have handled many of the adversities I faced during one particular dark season.
Because being in close relationship with others who know Him is a vital part of developing an intimate love relationship with Him, Jesus prayed that those who know Him would experience the same kind of unity that He experiences with His Father. I experienced this with my friend.
If you don't know anyone who you can develop a close relationship with in this way, reach out. Ask around for a spiritual mentor, become a part of a Bible study at a Bible-believing church, or join a Christian discipleship group.
Lastly, remember that just as developing intimacy with another person takes time, so it is with relationship with God. As you grow to trust Him and believe what He says in His Word more and more, your love affair with Him will become increasingly fulfilling and the abundance of zoe will grow inside your spirit and soul.