Steps to Intimacy Part 1


The key to spiritual authority and to fulfillment in the Mercy season is intimacy, both with God and with our community.  This series of articles will address only the former.

The first step to intimacy with God is to realize that you are already at the first step.  You don’t have to go somewhere, do something, buy something, change something.  Achieving intimacy with God is not an algebraic formula where a standardized set of actions on your part will produce a predictable result.

This article was prompted by someone who wrote despairing over the lack of intimacy in her life and she ended by saying, “I probably need to be on a computer fast, first off, and sit and LISTEN maybe…”

This is a classic formula approach.  If we deprive ourselves of the distractions of the world (and there are 1,000 variations on this theme) God will not feel like He has to compete and therefore He will come and intimacy will happen.  After all, there are many case histories to support this view!

I wrote back:  “Or not!  I think that is a classic religious spirit reaction.  The monastic era has come and gone.  There is certainly time for a media fast or a phone fast or those kinds of things, but at the end of the day, intimacy will come from erasing the line between the secular and sacred, so that when you are at an antique show with your boss, you can experience uncommon intimacy.”

Because you see, in this Mercy season, God wants to be intimate in your whole life, not just your spiritual exercises.   If you are only able to be intimate with God in the solitude of your prayer closet, it is like a couple who can only experience intimacy through sex, and the other 23.5 hours a day are loveless — not a pretty picture.

And intimacy at work, on the golf course or in the grocery store is not just the end game that the really, really super spiritual people get to.  It is where God wants to begin with most people.

The second step is to stop all comparisons with others as to the process and the product.  Intimacy between you and God is not going to look like intimacy between me and God.  And how you get to intimacy will be different from the pathway God took me on.

Let me give you one simple example.  There are kids who grew up playing with water.  Give them a large bucket of water and a lot of smaller containers and they could entertain themselves for a long time, pouring water back and forth.  Those kids grow up to be adults who can hear God best in the shower, while surfing or in the hot tub.  That is design.

There are others of you who have never had a second of interaction with God in the shower, and that is OK too.  Different design.

I look at three highly diverse snapshots of intimacy with God from my life and realize that it would take half an hour apiece to explain to anyone why those were intimate experiences.  One time I was driving north on the 5 freeway and saw some cattle standing in a lush field with grass up to their bellies.  Another time was in KwaZulu Natal, on a mountain ridge overlooking a small village.   A third moment was in my office struggling with some software that was not working.

Those are my encounters with God and every single one of them was based on my design and my unique journey.  They would mean very little to you.

For one person, surprises are a love gift.  Other people hate surprises.  For some people, intimacy is expressed through safety and comfort.  For another, the deepest moments of intimacy are based on life-risking, adrenaline-consuming adventures.

So spend a little time collecting the moments of intimacy you have already had.  Look for patterns.  God knows your design.  God knows how to meet you where you are in your pilgrimage.  Your intimacy may not be as deep as you would like it to be.  Your periods of time between moments of intimacy may be weeks or years, instead of hours.

I know.  We are trying to  improve your intimacy with these articles.  Don’t get stuck on what isn’t.

Evaluate what you have.  How does God meet you?  What does intimacy look like for YOU on Monday morning, and no one else?

If you would like to drop some comments on the subject, I might be able to play off them in subsequent articles — unless they are like mine — too hard to explain.

To be continued.

Copyright January 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck in Anaheim

This entry was posted in Intimacy, Spiritual Growth. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Steps to Intimacy Part 1

  1. Rose Boon says:

    Oh, yes, I can relate to these awesome things that God does just for me. My favorite ones are surprises that appear when I least expect them and then wonder why no one eles is seeing them like: Moving from Minnesota to Florida and missing the fun of tramping in the woods with dad to find and cut the Christmas tree. In Florida we have artificial ones. One year I was asking God for a real tree…husband saw no reason for a real one when we already had the artificial one from the year before. Out in the yard one day I was amazed to see an evergreen tree growing there 2-3 feet tall. How had I missed seeing it there? How long had it been there? I was amazed!

    Another time while driving toward down town, I looked up to see a perfect cloud formation of Jesus lying on his back, eyes closed, completely at peace. I looked around at the drivers in the cars around me to see they were totally unaware. I couldn’t figure out how to get them to look, how would you explain such a thing while driving and trying to pay attention to the traffic and the road? I wanted to just stop and shout. Instead, I was blessed the whole day just because God did that special thing for me.

    Another time there was a huge rainbow right over the road as I turned a corner…almost like I could touch it. Vivid, beautiful.

    I wanted Wisteria when we first moved here, because it was so like lilacs (my favorite–doesn’t grow down here) but husband said, number one son has allergies so it wouldn’t be a good idea. One day sitting in my office I happened to look out the window overlooking the vegetable garden space at the back of the house. The neighbor’s wisteria had grown over the fence that separates us with ONE wisteria bloom on the single branch just for me to see.

    Intimacy also comes through words in devotionals, the Bible, or other readings at just the right time addressing the very issue I am going through that day.

    Parking spaces appearing just at the right time, always right in front of the building.

    Things I’ve lost appearing right in front of me when I know I’ve looked there before.

    I could go on, but you know I was just remembering the first things when the rest of my list here came into my thoughts. Thank you God.

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  2. Gerrie says:

    Thank you Arthur, I’m blessed by this article. Recently somebody recommended a book to me called ‘Into the silent land – The practice of contemplation’. Well I bought the book and read it or shall I rather say plodded through it. All the time I was reading I felt ruffled in my spirit. This morning I believe the Lord led me to this post and my spirit said “Yes”. The monastic time is over. God reveals Himself to us in many different ways and situations. I often experience moments of intimacy when I hear beautiful music or when I’m working in my rose garden. Just the other day I listened to an annointed worship song that I heard for the first time and my spirit just jumped up and danced and I believe that can happen any time any where and not only in times of deep contemplation.

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  3. Irina Rivera says:

    Here’s a question that I think is related to intimacy – I was talking with a friend about worship and we were looking at it in a much broader sense than the Sunday at church. These times of intimacy sound so much like times of worship – they come as we chose to do something for God instead of ourselves, let’s say, or respond to a moment of intimacy in our day. So I’m thinking that intimacy and worship are firstly, closely linked, and secondly, in this Mercy season, a possibility any time of day, any where. My worship experiences, in fact, are often very intimate because they are for Him and no one knows that except us. Is that just another level of worship?

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    • I think a lot depends on the definition of the word. I believe there can be worship without intimacy. I feel that Abraham’s act of offering Isaac on the alter was an act of worship, but I suspect Abraham was not feeling very many good emotions at the time.

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  4. Roslyn says:

    Huh.

    This is such an interesing thread and of course I am enjoying reading the teaching, comments of others and reflecting on my own feelings of intimate moments. I Love the times when clouds form patterns, always so different, fun, expressive, powerful; our beautiful sunsets, 360 degrees of God’s splendor, majesty, love and power displayed. I love the moments in worship that take my breath away and anytime I am at the ocean doing anything at all I feel a special connectedness, more free, more open, closer to God my Father.

    But the times that I feel the very most intimate, deeply personal and as though He is there just for me, giving His Love and receiving mine ~ is when study His Word.

    Hmmmm ~

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  5. Nerina Fourie says:

    I could not sleep last night. I was paging through my life to see where those intimate moments were and my spririt got so excited, sleep left me!
    I loved the “random- senseless -moments -to- others” events most.
    Just pacing through all these events was an event of intimacy in if self! Nice…

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  6. Jana says:

    I love it that God walks His own path with me!

    Many things fall in place for me e.g.: Now I know why I never liked the idea of (morning) devotions, nor the idea of a devotional book.

    I am very intimate with God when I’m being mauled by waves. A calm ocean doesn’t have the same effect. However, I don’t live close by the sea. It is more than 7 hours’ drive and I definitely don’t like the idea of staying by the sea 🙂 ; so I also have intimate moments in my house alone, but also when I am with people having intimate conversations about God.

    Thanks for the thought provoking articles!

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  7. paula says:

    Interesting comments…all. As a mercy I find that the times I feel closest to God are the times I am alone…so many other things and needs tend to pull on me when I am with others. I am wondering how many of you do have times of intimacy in a group…I do believe that this is a fertile place for many. For years and years I was trained in this mode of intimacy…and do think that I “went there” many times…but this past season has been one of being separate from group worship , as a result I have seen many of my former methods challenged and changed. Without the measuring stick of others I have found new freedom to just be….to just enjoy doing the everyday…to enjoy creating…or not! It is finally occurring to me that I know how to do religious…but I’m only just learning how to do “living”…and that is intimacy..and the best and most intense freedom I have ever experienced! Also I do find that movement is an important component…however my favorite place would have to be sitting in tall grass or on a warm rock under a warm sun with crisp air…motionless. The times I have felt the most at one with Him (and that is intimacy) is when I have felt in tune with His heart…hard to explain but is more of an understanding vs a feeling.

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  8. I have served the Lord for 35 years and throughout this time have experienced many intimate moments with HIM in the most unusual places, especially not in religious settings. Few folk spoke of such experiences with Abba so I thought that I was strange BUT now I see that is what HE wants all of the time total intimacy and I just love it. Thank you for writing about this. I feel so amazing and enjoying all your spirit ministry – sets me free to soar with my creator and reign with HIM.Thank you Arthur!

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  9. Jansie Fourie says:

    What was really hard for me to learn about intimacy with God was that while He is consistent in seeking intimacy with me, the way He sought it was ever changing. The Israelites following the cloud in the desert was a good picture for me – His intimate presence is a moving target. He is longing for us to manifest the fullness of the lovers He created us to be. To help us grow into this He continually draws us deaper or higher by allowing us to experience Him and then slipping just out of reach over and over again.

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  10. Zac Maré says:

    Shalom Arthur!
    I just love the new everything and it confirms exactly what I was saying to our fellowship here in Dana Bay and Mossel Bay, S.A. Father has led us into a new phase of the new season and those that adapt to it is enjoying a new dimension of “walk” with Him!

    It is so true that you experience intimacy with Him in so many different ways, in nature and a new facet that I “discovered” last year was in a councelling session. I was listening to a spiritual son on mine, standing in his garage, telling me how he felt that Father was so very far from him of late. While he was explaining his whole emotion I “saw” Father standing right behind him with arms wide open! Immediately there was such a sence of His tangible presence, just awesome!

    I interupted Malcolm and said to him: What you are telling me is a lie from the pit of hell bacause Father is standing right behind you with His arms wide open! Father wants you to return to Him in all that you do. In the morning when you go jogging, take Him with you! As you run see His fingerprints in nature and start talking to Him in response to what you see or hear.

    Malcom applied the advice and was amazed how Father was “waiting” for him every morning! A few months later his eldest son said to his mother that he wolud like to be baptised. Danessa said to him: “Go to your bedroom and ask your heavenly Father when you should be baptised. About ten minutes later Joshua came back and said: “He said I should wait untill I am 8 years old”. During Joshua’s pregnancy Danessa used to Read Scripture aloud to Joshua — on my advice. Danessa even discovered that even when Joshau was “asleep” and she will read the Name of Father “Jehovah” aloud Joshua will immedialtely sit upright! If she used the normal “Lord” he showed now response.

    On Saturday 8th January I had the privelidge of rededicating Malcom in immersion. There after Malcolm immersed Joshua [now 8 years old] and after he came out of the water he gave his father such an awesome hug! It was precious to see!

    After I changed my clothes Joshua came to me and said he has got an question. Joshua then asked me how many types of baptism is there in the Bible? My spirit in me rejoiced because I knew that because of the early spirit ministry Joshua received caused him to have a much deeper depth of relationship with his heavenly Father!

    Arthur, I am Father so thankfull for allowing and guiding you to share the truth that He has revealed to you. It not only confirms that which He is sharing with us, but it also enable us to share in the wealth that He shares with you! Thank you for your to “the bone” honesty — a true sign of true humbleness. I salute you and bless you in the Name of the King of kings, Yahshua the Messiah!

    Zac Maré

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  11. mariovd says:

    Wow – what a post. I can definitely identify with the lady who took the “classic formula approach”. I very much tend to think like that most of the time. One of my greatest challenges for instance is to figure out what to do with devotional time in the mornings. If I am honest with myself, I believe deep down that I have to be faithful in it for my relationship with God to not come crashing down. In some way there has to be merit in it because it is the first fruits of the day etc etc but still I find myself becoming condemned so many times. Even if I do have quiet time, I don’t exactly know what to do. Sometimes I manage to really just listen to the Spirit and I have glorious encounters with God but other times I frantically search between my Bible and my thoughts and my diary to figure out what I am supposed to be focusing on and then it just comes crashing down.

    What I have realised after reading your post is that so many of the intimate times I can recall happened while I was listening to music, and most of them were either in my car or when I was on a plane, glued to my ipod. For instance, I went to Zanzibar this December, and I had a great expectation of meeting with the Lord there. When we were transferring from Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar on the ferry, I was listening to my Ipod and I had one of the most precious encounters with the Lord that I have ever had. I was expecting to have encounters with Him because of the beauty that we were surrounded with on the island. But I didn’t have a single one. Weird. I actually yearned for the time on the ferry more than anything else while being there. I remember one evening when we went on a sunset cruise on one of the local fishermen’s boats – at some stage I experienced a stirring in my heart. I thought it was because of the beautiful sunset but maybe it was because we were moving on a boat. (How crazy is that?!?) People always talk about how they experience the Lord in nature but I think I can safely say now that that is definitely not my design. Somewhere along the line in one of your teachings I remember you mentioning something about people who can only connect with God when they are in motion but I ruled it out because I don’t have a problem sitting still in church for hours on end and I usually don’t have a huge urge to jump around or move extensively while worshipping. But to some degree, I guess I definitely do experience it when I am in some or other moving vehicle. What a road of discovery this is!

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  12. Sonia says:

    Oh thank you Arthur for this article. I have had intimate moments with God in very painful moments, on the ascent when climbing mountains, when driving, near and when crossing the finish line when running a race and the most exquisite and memorable Manhattan, NY. I wouldn’t trade any of these for a moment at the front of the church. I have had moments with him in church usually when I tune out a very soulish sermon and tune into His voice. Thank you for providing a safe place to share these moments and be able to share the beauty of these moments. Thank you.

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  13. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    I have heard snippets in your teaching about people who find intimacy in the shower, I relate to that , and to lying in the bath. I did not grow up near a lake or sea, but have memories of building cities with dams and waterways in the dirt next to the outside tap. Intimacy with my King and with my husband is also driving …. anywhere, just around, or long distance, no CD or radio on as that gets in the way and breaks the intimacy. And lastly, walking through the inner city, with no special destination in mind, just walking and looking and listening and smelling every one of the senses engaged, the sun on my skin, the hard pavement under my feet, not much of the farm girl left in me …. But when I read your newsletter on the symbol of a city, it all fell into place. On 1 Jan we moved back into a house near the inner city and I know we have moved home, spiritually and physically.

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  14. Dottie T says:

    Arthur, thanks so much for this article. I find it so true. I am a Mercy and I realize as I have gotten older that the circular thinking over a subject that Mercies do helps me to receive God and intimacy with Him in many different ways and many different venues. I identified with most of the above comments because I have experienced intimacy in all those places….always where water and sun are involved, in the yard working to create beauty, driving by myself on longer trips, at prayer meetings where the corporate unity embraces His Presence and He shows up, sometimes cooking in the kitchen, at inner healing session that I am involved in, when He chooses to do some inner healing in me, and so many more places! I find that the daily meeting with Him sets me up to be more aware of Him in my day but does not necessarily make me feel any intimacy with Him. Thanks for all you do!

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  15. Bruce Jacobs says:

    Steps to Intimacy is a great title for this message. Is it not the Omniessence of our God. That beyond knowing all the stars by name. He knows each and every one of His creations. By name , by thought, by our very DNA He designed. Then He uses that very knowledge to reach us as we are. No matter how or who we are. He tries to reach us constantly , and we occassionally connect with these attempts. These are our intimacies with Him. It is so interesting the times we let Him break thru. They vary as much as our lives do. For me most of these times come from a time of total confident submission to Him. It may be from a totally awesome experience to the worst event in your life. I have experienced both and many inbetween. My lastest was yesterday while pondering a great change in life. I stopped long enough to discover that in all the varriables before me. I had failed to factor in the importance God had put into my heart about the covenant I had with Him. Once I allowed that to become the focus , I was transformed to His in the arms of a father “Sonship”. There does not exist a better feeling for a sinful creation redeemed. Mercy season it is and I believe He is there for us , looking daily for the connection to be made. Praise God when we let it plug into us.

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  16. Erica says:

    I had a deeply pivotal shift in my relationship with God several years ago. Yes this would take a half hour at least to explain the fullness. But what began that time was a week of intensive inner healing ministry. I had traveled to California where the ministry is and before I began the week of sessions I had a desperate desire to visit the beach, which I did. It ended up being the most peaceful three hours of my life. It haunts me to this day. The deliverance I received through the ministry was essential, but the beach is what I remember most vividly. Then about a year ago I was receiving a word from a group of people I do not know at all. One of them saw a picture of me on a beach and he proceeded to describe essentially what I was doing on the day I was actually there. And then he began interpreting the picture he saw as a picture of how I walk with God. I was so stunned. The specific detail of what I was doing on the beach was exactly what I had spent my three hours doing. It revealed to me how much He cherishes intimacy with me and that the beach experience is a real place I can always return to in my spirit with him.

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  17. Donna Apl;in says:

    Thank you so so much for this article. This has been a struggle for me as I am not where I want to be intimately with God. But I have always had such wonderful encounters with God when I work in the yard or just sit and look at nature. He shows me so many things about Himself and others and myself.
    Thank you for the validation. I so appreciate what God is telling us through you and your ministry.

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  18. Roslyn says:

    Intimacy comes these days when I stop all other thoughts and whisper: “You are here”

    Such gentleness and Peace surrounds, my soul becomes at rest, I long to stay in this attitude of always recognition of His nearness. He seems to like it, too. What I mean is, He expands as I acknowledge ~

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  19. Becki Taylor says:

    Thank you so much Arthur~! I found your article so validating. In this life so full of ‘activites’ of work, church, family and entertainment. The guilt that can come because of lack of ‘devotional’ time that has been prounouced as the only way to spend quality time with God has robbed us of so many intimate moments, by heaping a false guilt upon our conscience.
    I find my most intimate moments in the car while driving. I can find that freely I can have a cave of quietness or a loud worship fest and time of mutual adoration with God.
    Some of my most powerful God ‘encounters’ have been alone in my car, yes, driving.

    Thank you again for your work of ‘stripping’ away the religous spirit mentality and unwrapping the gift of this Mercy season to us all~!

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  20. Rosa says:

    Intimacy…nothing like it, riding on a motorcycle.

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  21. Caleb says:

    My moments of intimacy almost never come when I’m “in the prayer closet.” They come when I’m with a bunch of other people praying to God (usually asking for healing of some sort or the growth of His Kingdom). Those are the most powerful moments for me.

    Other moments of intimacy come randomly, often when my schedule is so jam-packed full of ‘stuff’ that I can’t fit in even another minute–and my deepest ‘God-time’ is synchronized side-by-side with my ‘stuff-time.’ Go figure.

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  22. Julia A says:

    Great post! My most recent intimacy experience with God was when I was cataloging my heirloom vegetable seeds 🙂 Once you let go of your ideas of when and where you should meet God the fun begins, I start each day with expectation of meeting with Him and He chooses the place and time.

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  23. I was reflecting this last week about why my spirit yearns to be up high overlooking water, I even dreamt that I was looking into an oval shaped mirror and the reflection was a picture of trees, castle and a view to the water from on high…I’m passionate about learning my design so I can be more effective for Kingdom purposes. You bought another piece to the puzzle this morning TY with this article as I recalled a photo of myself at the beach as a two year old and apparently we as a Toddler we had lived very close to the beach that I ws able to climb out of the house and found there.

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    • I feel like my heart is a neverending row of dominoes as I’m overjoyed by unpacking truths one after another after another about water and being up high on hills – huge insights TY for being a catalyst Proverbs 11:25 Who ever refreshes others WILL be refreshed.

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  24. Pat says:

    Well said, as usual. I’ve noticed that I am often flooded with a sense of intimacy in the country. I had always assumed it was because I was raised in WY and was a country girl at heart (even tho I was raised in town). Then I assumed it was different land. Recently I’ve realized that it’s design, and as I become more in tune with my unique design, I can feel the shift. A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were driving on Hwy 80 and pulled off to go to a little fruit stand. As I pulled off and drove down the dirt road just a few feet from the buzzing freeway, I felt the shift. A sweet intimacy with Father, like a love note or a hug from him. And even as I write this, I sense that “country intimacy.” Sweet…

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  25. Paula Kirwan says:

    Thank you Arthur, this has hit home. I recently have been having devotions in the bath whilst using sweet smelling bubble bath and although there has been no great revelation as of yet, I find I can better unwind and release the worries of the day and are more relaxed going to bed.
    You also put words to an experiece last Christmas that I didnt have words for. Sounds os simple now “intimacy”. I was driving home on Christmas morning at 7am, there was no one around and everywhere you looked there was the most magnificant frost. It was like private moment between God and me that my spirit tried to take in all at once but was unable and so I have revisited that in my mind many, many times in the past year, still struggling to embrace it in its fullness

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