“He is the God who is passionate about His relationship with you” (Exodus 34:14)
When I was first married, I really wanted to impress my husband. Like most new wives, I desired to blow him away with how much better off his life would be now that he was married to me. I wanted him to look back over his years of singleness and be remorseful that it had taken so long for his path to cross with mine. I tried to cook gourmet meals that I couldn’t master and clean tirelessly all while wearing a cute dress and four inch heels.
I quickly found out that my efforts were in vain. He was grateful for my hard work but what he wanted more than anything was for me come sit next to him on the couch and cuddle. He wanted a relationship with me.
He didn’t want me impress him. He wanted me to be close to him.
Intimacy with God was the theme my Uncle Paul shared at our annual New Year’s Day gathering. Since I was a toddler, the members of my extended family have gathered at my grandparents’ house to reunite, share good food and fellowship and celebrate the year to come. Each year, before the day ended, we’d always sit quietly and listen to my grandfather share some spiritual advice and direction for our family in the new year. He’d carefully open up his aged bible to a passage he’d specifically selected for the occasion and we would listen (far less attentively when we were children, of course).
When Grandpa passed away four years ago, my Uncle Paul – the oldest son – took on this task. This year He challenged us, all of us, about our intimacy with God. In a very direct yet gentle way, he encouraged us to consider if we’d lost focus on what is and has always been most important to God – connection with His people.
In the book of Exodus, God sent Moses to Pharaoh with a detailed message for the release of His chosen people: “Let my people go that they may worship me” (Exodus 9:1). Please notice: there was a specific purpose that their freedom was to be granted. This declaration was given by God over a dozen times and was not mentioned merely for Pharaoh’s benefit but for the Hebrews as well. God wanted them to be certain of the purpose behind their freedom.
Let my people go so that they can worship me.
The purpose of their release was not so that they could:
inherit the promise land
be free from oppression
experience great blessings
do great works for Yahweh
His message was clear: God wanted the people to be free so that they could have undistracted intimacy with Him in worship.
From the beginning of time God has desired connection with His people. It started in Eden when He walked with Adam and Eve and continued into the New Testament when He clothed Himself in humanity to walk among humankind. It continues today as He woos us to Himself by the Holy Spirit who indwells us. His goal for freeing the children of Israel from Egypt in the Old Testament was the same as it is for everyone who His grace frees today. When He releases us from the power of sin, He does so for one primary reason: to develop an intimate relationship with the one for whom He paid so high a price.
So this year, don’t seek to impress him, just draw near to him instead. And be
careful not to become so discouraged by the wilderness or enthralled by the Promise Land that you forget what your Lord set you free for. Push all peripheral endeavors to a secondary position in your life and lean in to the divine friendship that He freed you to experience.
“Draw near to me and I will draw near to you” (James 4:5).
Priscilla Shirer, Going Beyond Ministries