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Welcome to this week’s Women Encountering Jesus Bible Study Lesson. Last week we took a closer look at Martha, and how Jesus’ response to her has profound implications for our busy lives today. However, there were two women involved in that conversation with Jesus, right? This week I want to spend a little more time with Mary and hopefully convince you that, in Jesus’ eyes, Mary truly had her priorities in the right order. So, close your eyes.. breathe, and let’s delve deeper into the heart of Jesus as we take a look at why he craves intimacy with you and me.
“-but few things are needed, indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~Luke 10:42 (NIV)
Women Encountering Jesus Bible Study Lesson: Nurturing Intimacy With God
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” ~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
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Craving Intimacy With Someone
Feeling safe with a person. Intimacy. We all long for it. For many it is as elusive as unicorns and the gold at the end of the rainbow. However, intimacy is one of the most vital of human needs. We were created to be in relationship with others. We were made for fellowship. We were designed for intimacy. In Luke 10, Jesus invites us to cultivate an intimate relationship with him. As a matter of fact, he tells us that intimacy with God is ultimately the only thing we need.
However, what is intimacy with God? What does that look like? How do you achieve it? Why is it so important?
In Ephesians 2:13, Paul explains, “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.” Brought near to God. Close to God. We have been brought near to God through the blood of Christ. You see, it’s not just that intimacy with God is essential for us. Nope. God wanted to cultivate intimacy with us so badly that he sent his only son to die on a cross in order to pay the price for our sins. Wow. Read that again.. let it sink in.
The Creator of the Universe Craves Intimacy With You!
No wonder he encouraged Mary to sit at his feet. He longed for relationship with her! He wanted to cultivate intimacy with Mary, and at the same time create a safe place for her to cultivate intimacy with him.
Barriers to Intimacy With God
So, why is it so difficult to develop an intimate relationship with God? What stops us from sitting at Jesus feet, soaking in fellowship with him?
I have a few ideas.. don’t you?
- That pile of dishes in the sink.
- The skinned knee you just had to give some TLC.
- Traffic (need I say more?).
- That get well card you need to run to Target to purchase.
- The casserole that needs to be prepared for the fellowship meal.
- Intimacy? I am too tired for intimacy. I just want to zone out and watch the Food Network.
- Quiet time? How about a 1/2 hour more of sleep?
It isn’t just the usual suspects though. In her fantastic book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver talks about a concept called ‘spiritual snickers bars.’ Basically, she writes that too often when we should be ‘hungering and thirsting’ for intimacy with God, we take the edge off our hunger with spiritual snacks. These snacks are not bad in and of themselves. However, they take enough of the edge off of our spiritual hunger, that we never truly long for a deep relationship with God. We are never truly hungry, so we never take the time to go deep… and really seek out the relationship God is calling us to cultivate with Him. Some examples of ‘spiritual snickers bars’ could be:
- That great novel you stayed up until midnight to finish.
- The afternoon spent in coffee and conversation with your college roommate.
- Those chocolate chip cookies.. right out of the oven. Bonus if you have a tall cold glass of milk to go with them.
- That pair of cute socks you are knitting for your daughter.
Proactive Relationship Building
Are these things bad? Absolutely not! However, if they dull your hunger for an intimate relationship with God.. maybe, just maybe you should re-prioritize. Let me just say right now— I am horrible at this. I will confess here and now that I am the queen of settling for spiritual snickers bars, and you want to know something? When things are going great, time spent with friends, hobbies, food, planning, this blog, etc… sustain me just fine.
However, we all know that things don’t always go great, right? As I write this post, I know of many people whose lives are spiraling out of control.
- a church in upheaval
- a city in crisis
- a daughter close to death’s door
- a family, torn apart by divorce
- a hostile work environment
- a colicky baby
It is when things are not going so great, that you really feel that acute need for closeness with God. You are emotionally fragile. Testy. Impatient. Frustrated. Angry. Depressed. However, just like with any other relationship worth having, you don’t get to enjoy all the benefits of intimacy if you never put the effort into cultivating it before the need arises. A deep relationship takes time. You have to let yourself be vulnerable with God. You have to draw near to God… and He will draw near to you. That doesn’t mean that God will forsake you in your time of need if you haven’t previously spent time with Him. It just means that if you proactively create the space in your life to develop a close relationship with God, your foundation will be that much stronger during the time of trial and testing.
Choosing What is Better
Cultivating an intimate relationship with God is the ultimate ‘Quadrant II’ activity. In another fantastic book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains that Quadrant II activities are very important, but they are not urgent. This means they are easy to ignore.. until their acute need pushes them into a crisis situation. However, the paradox is that if you take time to do these types of activities on a regular basis, your life will be characterized as balanced, disciplined, with few crises, with richer relationships, etc..
I think that when Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen what is better, he is essentially saying that Mary is focusing on something that will sustain her regardless of outside circumstances. Jesus is telling us that He is our safe person. We can feel safe in his bosom. Jesus will be faithful to separate our wheat from our chaff. Jesus, through the power of the blood he shed for us on the cross, will remove our sins from us– blow them away.
So, what are you waiting for? Choose what is better. Choose the only thing that really matters. Choose to nurture an intimate relationship with your creator and your savior.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a blessed week!