Steps to Intimacy Part 2


I receive a lot of gifts as I travel among loving, generous people.

Most of them are duds.  While the other person meant well, and tried hard, and spent a lot of money in some cases, it just wasn’t what I enjoy.  I guess I am either weird in my tastes or really picky.

I find it just as hard to give a good gift.  I think it is one of the more challenging aspects of life.  I occasionally score big, but it does take effort, thought, and creativity to find something that the other person does not have and might really like.

The same applies to our intimacy with God.  The best intimacy is shared intimacy.  I have never been impressed with the marriage “deal” where he ends up going to the ballet with her in exchange for her going to the hockey game with him.  That smells more like a win/lose proposition than real intimacy.

So in courtship or marriage, how do you find out what the other person likes, or what aspect of your gift he or she liked?

You ask.

Don’t guess.  If you guessed wrong with the gift in the first place, you will probably guess wrongly about the reaction.

So you need to set aside some time to ask the King what it was that He enjoyed the most about the event you just had, or the day or the week.  Just ask!  It will give you a glimpse into His heart that you might not otherwise get.

A friend of mine recently put on a big event for the King.  After it was over and she was alone, she asked Him what He liked the best.  His answer:  “Did you see Sally’s face?”

The King got more pleasure out of the transformation her event produced in Sally, than He did in her gifts to Him.  This was important for her to know.

So when do you ask?  It depends on your personality.

I do it on a scheduled basis.  I go home, greet my wife if she is there, then drop on the couch and run a 15 minute review of the day, savoring the things the King did for me that landed so well, and asking what He liked about the day.

For others, carving out a predictable block of time in a week is unrealistic, so go with what works for you.  Are you a salesman in the field?  Then perhaps as you drive away from one sales call, you could ask the King about that one.

Are you a busy mom?  Perhaps while you do the dishes you could ask Him what He enjoyed about the dinner time.

If you are highly spontaneous and find it hard to remember often enough to build a new habit, then create some reminders.  A Post-it note in the middle of the bathroom mirror will remind you to query Him while you put your makeup on in the morning.

Or perhaps you need a note on your computer screen that says, “Don’topenFacebookuntilyouhaveaskedtheKing!”

Or if you have a phone with an alarm, set it randomly for a couple of times during the day.  When it goes off, check to see if there is any way to pause for five minutes and ask.

Is it irreverent to “text” the King on the fly instead of having a highly premeditated “date” where you dress up for Him and set aside the whole evening?

Let me tell you!  I have given that question a whole lot of thought because I am much more comfortable with the formal, premeditated meetings with the King.  MUCH!

But pragmatically I have two observations to make.  First, all too often lately, He is not showing up for a date when I clear my calendar!  It is quite aggravating, actually, when my soul sets aside a whole day for uninterrupted focus on the King and neither He NOR my spirit show up for the occasion.

Sigh.

Second, right now, in this season of my life, He seems to be texting me more than anything else.

I have circled around this about a thousand times, and this is my tentative conclusion.  I think God wants us to be willing to give Him blocks of time, and to be versatile.  If you are so busy maintaining relationships with your friends that you refuse to give Him any undivided attention, He might refuse to engage with you until you take those three days of prayer and fasting alone in a cabin in the woods with no cell phone signal and no iPad.

For those of us who have been absolutely marinated in the religious spirit, the King seems to be willing to go on very few dates, until we can learn to go skateboarding with Him, and let Him come to work with us.

Just a hunch, not a rock solid theological anchor.

Finally, for many of you, asking the King what He liked will be simple and fun.  Others of you only wish you had a two-way dialog with the King like you hear about from others.

Don’t give up.  Let’s try a different approach.  Often your spirit can “point to” something the King likes, even if you cannot “hear” the words.

So let’s take dinner time.  You are doing the dishes and you ask the King what He liked.  Silence.

Break the meal down into pieces then.  Hold each piece up, one at a time, and listen inside to see if any one of them stands out more than another.

You baked baklava for the first time and it came out so so.  Your kids loved it, your husband said it wasn’t quite as good as his grandmother’s.  No response inside.

There was a discussion of Johnny hitting a double in the little league game.  No response.

Cheri grumbled about her history test.  No response.

Then Danny spilled the milk and you scrambled to clean it up.  And then you feel it — the King’s pleasure.  No words are said.  You did not “hear” Him.  But you know He is pleased that you did not lose your temper. The work you have done in the last year to heal and to grow in character is paying off, and it brought Him deep pleasure.

You melt in tears at the kitchen sink in a moment of intimacy.

Copyright January 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim

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

24 Responses to Steps to Intimacy Part 2

  1. Francois Marais says:

    Mr Burke, I am known as Fathers teddy bear – have had numerous prophetic words along this line at home (South Africa) and abroad. I get this ‘controlable’ urge to give someone a hug when I sense a ‘Father love download’ coming on.
    If I was standing near you right now…

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  2. Grace Julia says:

    I am purposely not reading the comments/posts after reading Arthur’s words, (yet) because of being touched so deeply and unexpectedly! Thank You so much for the freedom I’ve experienced from reading just two parts of Intimacy! I want to savour what He’s said/given me through your words, that I haven’t been able to because of my “muddled thinking”.

    I too have previously set-apart several nights to spend with Him, to no avail/no show.
    I’ve only known one other person who waited on Him multiple times, dressed up, sat up waiting for hours, but not without great reward, eventually.

    With no exaggeration or embellishment, I want to say thank you Arthur for everything I’ve read thus far, including several parts of your Procrastination articles.

    Glory to God.

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  3. Sonia says:

    I have met our King in so many places with such an incredible tapestry woven out of the all those moments! I have been helping my children and my husband reconcile with the Him and hear him themselves. Ahh so beautiful when your children hear him for themselves. I savour those moments too! I have also enjoyed hearing of the moments when my husband engages him.
    I love how he created us for intimacy!

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  4. Jenny Coetzee says:

    I found it so easy to get into a rut – even with my time spent with the Lord, and I was so uplifted and challanged reading especially Part 2, to renew my mind and routine. I am excited, and I am sure our Lord will enjoy a greater variety in the time we spend together. Thank you so much

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  5. Kristi says:

    Arthur,
    Something I found HUGELY valuable was a comment you made on the introductory CD of the Redemptive Gifts (I think?) In a story, you shared the principle of sharing the first fruits of our emotions with Father as a tool for building intimacy. I have been amazed by the power of going to Father FIRST with all intense emotion, good or bad. This truly takes us deeper – immediately and building over time. This powerful principle has changed how I do relationship (building intimacy first with Father now instead of looking for someone to share with immediately.) Thank you!!

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  6. ~AnnA~ says:

    YES! I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH!!!!!!!

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  7. Catherine Collie says:

    As i was reading this and thinking about intimacy with God. I find that He is beginning to open up my Spirit to be more aware of His presence in other things than just doing the devotional thing.
    He brought to mind the day my husband brought our 3 year old granddaughter home for a visit with us. She wanted to play a game so her and i spent sometime playing “Go Fish” It was really fun seeing her delight when she won the game.
    After I felt God’s pleasure in this as i reached down to her level and met her need.
    To me this whole thing was a God moment.

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  8. anita says:

    so i asked God – what do i do that pleases you? and walked away…
    the next morning in the shower He caught up with me, rather unexpectedly!
    He answered my question and during that bathroom time interupted my thoughts a few times to tell me about what i was doing that pleased Him.
    i came to the realisation that my God is the best motivational speaker ever
    and this experience left me only wanting to please Him more….

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  9. Grace says:

    I really like this blog, Arthur. Parenting has pressed me more into the mode of “texting”, but I prefer to look at it as walking with Him in all the little things rather than compartmentalizing my time with Him. Whatever we call it, all I know is that He likes to change it up from time to time. But I really appreciate the reminder to ask Him what made Him smile.

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  10. liz says:

    I loved this.

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  11. Wendy says:

    This hit home so deeply! I love the picture of the Mom at the sink. When this has happened, it has been more touching to me than when I have spent hours on the floor with Him. Once again, He met me where I was, without my striving, and religious agenda, there He was. Profoundly initmate…

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  12. I had a Love melt moment with the King just this afternoon before reading this, that caught me so tenderly by surprise. To relay the details leading up to it would be lengthy and confusing. But there I was filling up jugs of water of all things, when the King got my attention in such a sweet way that I fell to my knees weeping as the Intimate Intensity of His Affection washed through me like a River and became a Beautiful pool of tears at His feet…Though at His feet, He held me on His Lap with my head pressed tightly against His chest. It was a wonderful moment… You see, it had been a pretty hard day physically, emotionally and spiritually, and in spite of all my ‘falling shorts’ He chose to respond so very quickly when my spirit asked His, “So, Papa, what is it that You really think about me and all ‘this’? His response is not often what we expect..its always far Greater. (…and then I became aware of water overflowing from the jugs in the sink and had to ‘snap out of it’ and get back to the task at hand) Love this ministry…thank you so much!

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  13. RuthAnn777 says:

    I forgot to thank Arthur for this note. If even he (the Guro) can have times when God doesn’t show up, it refutes the lie I sometimes believe that I must be doing something wrong. 🙂 This is a topic that nobody really talks about, or skirts around the “edges”. I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this site!

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    • Ruth Ann, we pray regularly that God would draw people to our site who need to come, but who are not looking for us. It would be a lot of fun for us to know how God arranged for you to “stumble upon” this site, if you care to share.

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      • RuthAnn777 says:

        Well I have been getting the Plumbline newsletters regularly for two years now. I have been too busy to go to check and see what’s been going on. Actually I have piled so many different ministries’ stuff into my inbox (and my life) that I have been led by God into a season of paring down because I tend to go way too wide, and too shallow and scattered. In this current process for me, I have been led to pick back up a few ministries I left by the wayside in my distraction. Plumbline is definitely one of them! I forgot how Lifegiving reading all the material was. I looked through the new happenings on the newsletter in my email, I signed up for a few blogs, and then here I am. I am so grateful for this venue to read and learn, and best of all interact and share. Praise God!

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  14. Erica says:

    Beautiful pictures here of intimacy. I was in a prayer time for someone once. The lady who came for prayer wisely told us nothing about why she needed prayer, so it was all up to God to show up. After about 30 minutes of marinating in His presence and lifting up the person quietly, we began to share any pictures, words or impressions we had. One woman prefaced her sharing by saying this is an odd picture, I hope it’s not offensive. She then explained that she saw a picture of the woman getting ready for the day in the bathroom, brushing her teeth and hair and putting on make up. Jesus was sitting on the toilet, you know with the lid down, just talking to her. They were chatting back and forth. The woman teared up and explained to us how she had always longed for this kind of intimacy with her ex-husband, that she had always wished that he would come and talk with her while she was getting ready and just be with her in that very ordinary time during the day. I held on to her picture as well as a reminder that he wants to meet us in so many various kinds of ways. I confess I do get caught up in the religious spirit of “am I doing my time with God right.” I used to be able to put a lot of time aside to meet with God, which I got a lot out of. But I recently started going to massage therapy school and have very limited free time, much less than I’ve ever experienced. I was worried about making that shift into “busyness” but know that it is out of necessity. However, now I find that He is often showing up to meet with me in the middle of giving massages. It’s very exciting, because it blesses me and also I know it is blessing the person I’m working on. As a student I’m still trying to integrate all the information I’m receiving into what I’m doing and that can bring frustration. I like the idea though of asking the Father what he liked about what I did. I certainly have time for that as I have transition times between massages or at the end of several massages when I will take at least 20 minutes to stretch and ice my arms.

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  15. Shirley says:

    I have been doing this asking for a couple of years now especially in situations where some of my previous wounding could come out and I really NEED His perspective and find it is quite different than mine. Coming home from a meeting I would ask what He thought about certain relationships and how they were handled, in particular what He thought about the way I handled it. It has been my lifeline to obedience as well as intimacy. Another thing I have experienced is that if I set aside special time to be with the King and neither of us shows up even when I really try, that He never ignores. He then comes to me maybe a day or two later when I am not expecting it and gives me a wonderful time of His presence. God is a good God and He loves us so much and knows exactly what will touch our hearts. I also do a lot of texting as I want to know His wishes as I go about my day. He always answers me right away unless the answer is longer or He wants to tell me in a different way. Then when the answer comes I have to remember that I did ask that question a couple of days ago and the answer is in what someone tells me, a book He wants me to read, a children’s story that I could never explain to anyone else. He is a very creative God and is never boring!!

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    • Roslyn says:

      Thanks, Shirley for this: “Coming home from a meeting I would ask what He thought about certain relationships and how they were handled, in particular what He thought about the way I handled it.”

      I am alwasy so full after meetings of observations, questions, etc. ~ I never thought to approach my King in this manner As I do it now I sense a shift, of sorts ~ gone is the frustration of no one to talk to, the chance of being critical, or even having questions left unanswered.

      The freedom of talking my Abba, not just in times of ‘serious’ prayer and intercession ~ but in every day all the time things He knows all about whatever it is ~ I like this very much and feel He does as well.

      What a gracious King ~ to be mindful of worm Jacob ~ even to bringing me into the banqueting table. Not to serve Him but to LOVE Him and be Loved by Him ~ what a God is this ~

      As for breaking things down to the little details ~ wow ~ is this proving to be powerful. For me these days I feel His approval when I succeed in the character issues, areas of struggle ~ not being impatient with others when they don’t ‘get it’ especially. Drives me nuts but I know now that it is part of my design anyway, free money for me ~ and ~ most importantly, how long has He been patiently waiting for me to ‘get’ some things.

      Oh, the road to a temperate spirit, meek, gentle, kind and long suffering. I just want to get there ~

      Praise You, Lord.

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  16. Kate Tarbill says:

    Thank you for your honesty. That has been my frustration is that I sit down to *soak* or *pray* and He doesn’t show up. Oh the agony (shall we say sheer torture?). I am trying to find out what He likes, instead of what bores Him. He shows up when I minister to others, but I’m in a season of infirmity, so I can’t do that for awhile.

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    • Kate, I felt really moved by your comment about being in a season of infirmity. I don’t know what is coming in terms of your discoveries, but I sure hope you share here what you learn about intimacy with the King when you are marginalized this way. I think you are on the verge of a significant insight that could benefit us all.

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  17. Tracy says:

    Some great insights there. I’ve been “texting” a lot lately and have found it to be increasingly dissatisfying. For myself, that is. Father has been texting back but in the last short while it’s been strangely silent from His side. I am really nervous about getting quiet and alone with Him for extended periods of time lately although I strongly sense this is what is about to happen. Why is that? I suspect it could be a fear of Him deciding not to “show up”. Why do I think He might do that? Or is it that I feel as though I may not be able to “attend” in the deep way He requires me too – like having a sort of latent attention deficit disorder. Fidgeting, squirming, sighing before settling down to the meaningful stuff. It’s much easier to “text” but it seems not to be enough anymore. We’ll see.

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    • RuthAnn777 says:

      My heart is right there like you say Tracy, you are not alone feeling that way. I hope that I can get from where I am now into a season of feeling no qualms about spending the deep times with Him. I know I am not in trouble. But when He doesn’t show up I cannot understand it. Right now I find it easier to have short times with Him, but I know it needs to go deeper. He has to make me willing to become vulnerable, I cannot do it on my own.

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  18. Jana says:

    My heart is jumping for joy!!!!!!

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