As we move deeper in the realm of intimacy, we have no option but to desire more and more of the eternal pleasure of knowing God. We find that we cannot live unless we know and experience greater correspondence between God and our own soul. We long to be His friends and to share the secrets of His heart. We have known the ache of our own longing, but just as love is not love without this longing, love is not love without satisfaction. We must experience that which we have waited for. The feast of communion is our desire. For surely His love is better than wine (Song Sol. 1:2). It is better than the finest things of life, and our entire reward is wrapped up within it. When we have tasted of the drink found within the river of pleasures, we are abundantly satisfied with God’s fullness (Ps. 36:8). It is this that we are after, and it is for this that He has made us to receive.
We desire real experience in real time. We were designed by our Creator to crave His nearness and to only be satisfied in the true experience of love within us. For this reason, it is not wrong that we so cry out for His presence. It is not too much to ask that we might know Him as richly as we would dare dream about. Oh, how much greater are His own dreams for our hearts. God dreamed a dream of me in my creation, and that dream is larger than any lofty vision I have ever conceived of. Much has been said about the faithfulness of God to bring us into our purpose or our destiny. Yet the destiny God is most determined to answer is His purpose for each heart to know communion with His Son. He Himself will be faithful to bring each one into that place of divine love that He has purposed for their heart. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).
Communion with God is the place from which we were brought forth and the place to which we will return, for surely we were made to commune with the living God and to desire such. It is not presumptuous but befitting to our rightful understanding of our spiritual inheritance. When we aspire to be so transformed that we might dwell with these everlasting burnings (Is. 33:14), we are aspiring rightly. For there we were designed to abide. Even from the garden, God’s invitation was for man to live in unhindered love, with all of the heart, soul, mind and strength. We were made to live in perpetual communion with our loving God. And from this intrinsic part of our very design, we have longed and desired for this very constant communication and relations with our God.
Though it feels so far from our understandings, God describes this place of Love’s richness as not too mysterious and not too far off. It is not so high in heaven that we cannot reach it. Nor is it beyond the sea that we cannot grasp it. It is near. It is in our mouths and in our hearts (Deut. 30:11-14). God spoke these words to resist the lies that would come against His covenant of wholehearted love. For surely something within us thinks this communion with God unattainable. “God does not reveal Himself to me in that way,” we say with despairing voices. We write ourselves off by thinking it is for another and not for our own hearts. Yet how far from true is this conclusion. Our God desires that each one not only be filled with longing for Him, but indeed find the experiential consolations of His nearness that longing has so faithfully prepared us for.
We treat this realm of the experience of Love as though it were indeed “so far off.” Even in our cries of longing, we give evidence of how mysterious we think it is. “Oh God, why are You so far? When will You come near?” We continually speak to Him as though He is in the habit of bounding from one location to another instead of what is true, that His omnipresence swallows up all locations. There is no height so high that He is not above and no depth so low that He is not beneath it. When we feel that He is far from us, before we rush to conclusions that He is disciplining or ignoring us, let us first ask if He is in fact near and we simply do not know it. “‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it’” (Gen. 28:16).
He is near to us. He is the high and lofty One, yet He dwells with the contrite in spirit (Is. 57:15). This causes me to consider, if God be so near, surely I must know Him more than I think I know Him. And surely I must hardly know Him at all. If God be so near, He is near before I am aware. And if God be so near than how far is my heart from knowing Him in His nearness? Still, God is near to me. If I feel that I do know Him in His nearness, than my mind is last to touch this knowing. Perhaps, my spirit knows Him deeply for He dwells within its chambers. Closer than my brother, friend or spouse, He dwells within me. He could not be nearer. Yet still this mystery seems just out of reach. As if part of me is knowing something that another part has not yet comprehended. It is beyond, beyond, so far beyond my understanding. And my understanding may very well be the last to partake of such glory that I speak of. For love indeed surpasses knowledge, and where the mind is limited, love is inexhaustible. Even so, I was made to know the God who has come near, and I was made to experience Him in His nearness.
Much of our longing and aching does not come out of an accurate understanding of God’s true proximity to us. He is near when we imagine Him far. We call times of refreshing times of silence not because He is actually silent but because of our unbelief in His nearness or, as we have previously considered, simply our unlikeness to Him and thus our inability to recognize Him. This is not to negate true times of silence or true winter seasons where He is very purposefully hiding Himself for the furtherance of love (as exemplified by the bride in Song of Solomon chapter five). Yet many times we think we are in winter when in fact we are in spring. Again, the reason for this is both our doubt that He ever manifests His nearness to us in our experience and also our lack of knowledge of His heart. He is in our world, and our world does not recognize Him.
We must be careful to not possess a mentality that spiritual barrenness is what is normal or a belief that this emptiness we are experiencing is simply the way God desires it. The idea that the common way to live in this age is to move blindly in the dark because He has not chosen to reveal Himself is a false mindset. Instead, we must know this about our God: He has come near out of His great desire, and He is jealous that we would experience His nearness and His presence. He is not a God who takes pleasure in being far off. He is the only God that has delighted to not only come near, but to become one of us in order to bring us to Himself. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
Dana Candler 6/5/2008
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