Increasing Internal Temperatures and Intimacy with Christ

Description

Intimacy with God sometimes comes through suffering.

I was excited when I settled on the topic that would be my focus for this year. It was confirmed through Hosea 6:3:

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.

This is the cry of my heart this year, what I’ve been pressing into—developing a deeper “knowing” of the Lord, seeking a greater level of intimacy with Him.

When I found out this would be my focus for the year, I was picturing Mary in Luke 10 seated at Jesus’ feet soaking up His truth. You know, getting up every morning and singing “Kumbaya” with the Lord as He whispers sweet words of encouragement in my ears. But I’m almost halfway through the year, and I must confess, it has been an arduous climb.

I’m entering a season of life where I’m really being stretched: physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I hate to admit it, but some of it is due to the age I’ve reached (sigh). It comes with its set of issues—sleepless nights, crazy temperature extremes (some nights my husband thinks I may internally combust), along with a middle-age weight battle.

I’ve also faced some personal challenges as I’ve walked through the loss of a good friend. On top of that, I’m watching many of my parent’s lifelong friends pass away, and my favorite aunts and uncles are nearing the century mark. It seems I’ve entered a season where so much that was once familiar is no longer.

But with every loss, with the dismantling of my maternal biological clock, and with the shifting of what once seemed solid, one thing has remained constant: my Father’s faithful presence. People are passing, relationships are changing, my body seems to be racing toward old age, and yet, He is the same.

While I love the idea of experiencing intimacy and resurrection power, the apostle Paul seems to have understood that resurrection power only came after the cross. His passionate cry in Philippians 3:7–9 to “know Christ” comes right before these words: “And the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (v. 10).

The fellowship of Christ’s sufferings means that in order to experience real fellowship with Him (and this is where it gets a little uncomfortable), that will include suffering and being conformed to His death. Intimacy comes through the school of suffering.

The difficulties I’ve faced this year in no way compare to Paul’s suffering. My challenges have been a little more ordinary and maybe a little like the ones you face. I’m not putting my life on the line for the gospel as Paul did, and maybe you aren’t either, but in our daily lives we have the opportunity to spread the same message he did. If we’re pressing in to Christ in the midst of those challenges, you and I can live a life that communicates to others that there is no greater joy than knowing Christ.

If you look at Paul’s life, it’s obvious that his intimate relationship with God, the personal way God led Paul, and the powerful way God used him in advancing the gospel, came with and through suffering for the gospel.

Intimacy with God comes at a price. It is worth it, but anything this valuable is costly.

What lessons have you learned from pressing in to know Christ more intimately?

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