Beth Moore is releasing a new book and study series called “The Quest”. She offers a glimpse into its purpose with the words, “To foster an adventurer-mentality as royal subjects of royal blood unrecognized by the world but headed to an unshakable kingdom worth the arduous trip”, referencing Acts 14:22. She did not lay the groundwork for that verse by including the three previous verses, which speak of Paul’s perseverance after being stoned and left for dead:
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. –Acts 14:19-22 ESV
She tells us to continue on this quest for intimacy with God as if it’s something we can attain by praying in a closet, writing down all of the imaginings we have while we pray, and gaining a deeper understanding of how it “feels” to walk closer to Jesus.
She goes on,
We are hard-wired in our humanity with an inquiry for the purpose of engagement and engagement for the purpose of intimacy. God who desires to be found created humankind with an innate desire to seek.
The purpose of “Quest” is to urge women along in their search for an understanding of God. The requirements are to journal faithfully, meet with other women to talk about their feelings, and pray in solitude. Sadly, God doesn’t lay out these rules for developing a closeness with Him. He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). We are to behave in a righteous manner and live holy lives. It is those things that will bring closeness, not an extra-biblical search for truth, not a hope for a blast of an intense feeling. We are to be like Jesus, whose relationship with the Father was characterized by love and obedience. In love, He came to earth to do His Father’s will. In all things, He did the will of His Father, not driven by his own desires or fears. (John 5:30) He humbly stated, “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
When we obey Him and keep what He has commanded, He promised that we will remain in His love, just as He remains in the love of the Father by doing the Father’s will (John 15:10)
We are wrong when we focus on intimacy as something to be attained. As believers, it is present in our lives and can be enjoyed today.
When seeking intimacy, we have a tendency to desire our own benefits, and this is not a healthy way to acquire intimacy in any relationship. Our goal should be to understand God better, get to know HIM better, not find all of the Bible passages which lay out how forgiven we are, how much we are loved, how to attain peace. Rather than being constantly aware of what we lack, we are to be satisfied with the fullness that Jesus has given us, growing closer to Him as we learn more about Him.
What if your present condition is the closest you will ever feel to God? Will you still desire to understand Him more, to know Him better? We are instructed to seek Him first, and the other things will be added for us later. (Matt 6:33) We are told that our heart is deceitfully wicked above all else (Jer 17:9). A contented Christian life is about abiding in Christ and is focused on the abiding habitation of the Holy Spirit–visible to others when we exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These things are a RESULT of seeking after God’s righteousness and honoring Him with holy living. We are not called to work at displaying those virtues. It is like watering an apple tree. We don’t go around hanging apples on it as if it is a Christmas tree. We water it, fertilize it, prune it, and the fruit just grows. A well-nourished tree can do nothing but bear the fruit its creator intended for it to yield.
A believer desperately yearning for intimacy feels that drawing closer to God is a 24/7 job. Focusing on a visitation from God will produce in us a dissatisfaction, because we lack trust that His word is complete and that following His precepts are the recipe for intimacy – not a regimen of journaling, prayer closet time, prayer circles, and focusing on an emotional experience.
Ann Voskamp, a popular author and women’s bible study writer, goes even more deeply into this search for intimacy with God. In 1000 Gifts. Voskamp writes, “I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God.”
Ladies, we have to STOP treating our relationship with God as an endeavor to feel better, have our hearts filled, or have our emotional needs satisfied. God isn’t a movie star, staring adoringly in our direction so we can lock eyes and croon “You complete me”. He is the ALMIGHTY GOD, worthy of our honor, owing nothing to us. Instead, we owe to him every ounce of our efforts to glorify Him in our lifestyle, our trust in Him, our actions, and our contentment in who He is. Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp and their recommended evangelical motivational speakers will help you focus on YOU. Studying God’s Word will help you better understand and draw nearer to HIM.
If you never felt another flutter of excitement about Jesus, if you never again have a moment in your prayer closet/circle/tardis where you “hear God speak”, will you love and adore Him all the same?
[Contributed by Jodie Jensen]