Friday, July 06, 2007

Eden Within

I have talked before about the importance of sacred spaces to our prayer lives. If we have a place where we regularly and consistently meet with God - a room, a chair, a garden - it becomes easier to slip into His presence there than in more unfamiliar surroundings.

A Lost Eden
In this past week circumstances have denied me access to one of my sacred spaces. A place that had become like Eden to me, somewhere to walk and fellowship with the Lord, is no longer available. At first I was extremely upset by this, but through the subsequent days of finding a new place to walk I have learned again that the most important sacred space is not external but internal. True intimacy with God does not take place in beautiful surroundings, but in the depths of the human heart.

Quest for God
My personal quest for intimacy with God began in my early teens when I realised that if the Creator had bothered to make people it must be because He wanted relationship and therefore it must be possible to know God personally. I went to church, read my Bible and prayed. I surrounded myself with people who called themselves Christians. But I never found God until I began praying with a friend at university. When we knelt together I sensed the presence of Jesus for the first time and knew she had what I wanted - relationship with God.

God-Shaped Hole
When the Lord Jesus came into my life it was, in a sense, the end of a search. But it was not the end of my seeking after God. The truth is that once we have tasted relationship with the Lord, all we really want is to be closer to Him. The "God-shaped hole" is a somewhat overused analogy, but we do all try to fill the space in our lives which is meant for intimacy with God. It's easy to see worldly people do this with material possessions, drugs or sex. But even Christians can fall into the same trap of trying to find satisfaction in places other than the Holy of Holies. In my experience that is the way to despair.

Homesick for Heaven
The Christian can never find contentment except in seeking the face of God. We have what one writer calls a homesickness for heaven. We don't belong here and we know it. We are offended by the lifestyles of sin around us, we struggle with frail and decaying bodies and sometimes when we get to the end of a day the best thing we can say about it is that we're one day closer to Glory. The only way to be a whole person in this life is to be continually turning our eyes on Jesus, taking whatever time we need in His presence to provide us with the strength to cope with each day. But above all we need to be cultivating a prayer life which is founded on seeking and obtaining intimacy with God.

Prayer College Assignment
The psalmist says that God gives us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4). But there is a condition attached to this promise, and that is that we delight in the Lord. Our desires become confused and debased when we fail to focus primarily on God. When our mind and heart are set on delighting in the Lord our desires become sanctified and we become consumed with a longing for His presence. Ask the Lord to lead you into a deeper desire for intimacy with Him.

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