Within one hour of meeting her, she not only told me that she loved me, but also expressed her desire to to marry me. I must confess I was somewhat flattered by her quick open and honest affection toward me. However I did have a problem to consider and that was that she was the young age of only 4 years old. In fun, I discussed the matter with her for a few brief moments and it was mutually agreed upon that, since we both might find someone else by the time she was of marriageable age, it was best that we not make any commitment to one another in this regard.
Love and intimacy are natural to a child. As my story of the young girl exemplifies, they are not shy to express it nor to grab hold of it when they see it. It’s their food. They can recognize how authentic it is within a person almost instantly. It is no wonder that Jesus loved the children to come to Him. Scripture tells us that we cannot enter the kingdom of God unless we become like them.
There is a season in a child’s life when the presence of the parent is of utmost importance. A very young infant begins to cry the instant it senses the arms that are holding it are not the arms of its mother or father. As it grows it will begin to step out and explore, but remains constantly aware of the presence of the parent in the room. If the parent were to disappear for longer than a minute it would burst into tears.. As the child continues to grow and become more independent, it will go out and play, come back to the parent for love and affirmation, and then, go out and play again. Back and forth it will go, from parent to play, to the parent again.
As adults, with our list of so many things to be completed, it takes a bit of adjustment on our part to understand that the child wants to help us with a task not for the sake of its completion, but as an opportunity to do something together with us. Children love our company. They love the intimacy, strength, and safety, that is found in being with someone who loves them. We still have these desires as adults, although its often pushed aside in the busyness of our lives, or quietly goes underground in our subconscious.
We crave intimacy. Its lack in our lives can drive our need for approval, embitter our heart when we are rejected, and enrage our souls. Our need to love and be loved becomes a tool which Satan uses to sow seduction into our daughters and lust into our sons. Whatever seems to meet the need becomes that which we worship. When true love and intimacy are not present, it creates a craving that drives us into so many addictions. The sweet innocence of our desire to be loved just for who we are, is lost in a world that sets a different standard. We soon learn that we are loved for how we look and perform. In a moment we can lose a friend because of a wrong word spoken, or a jealousy that somehow took root. Although our intentions were good, our name was slandered and though we gave it our best, it was not good enough. Shame, guilt and condemnation begin to seep in.
It is our longing for intimacy which has the potential to transform our dance into worship: a dance of intimacy. Dance birthed out of a worship which springs up and out from the soul which has spent time, enough time, with God, to become convinced of His love, mercy and goodness toward her. However, we sabotage that potential for a deeper walk with Him whenever we too quickly grab the first thing that seems to satisfy that gnawing emptiness within. God whispers in our ear to come be with Him and instead we reach for the phone to call a friend. We feel a sadness within and grab food with which to comfort ourself. An ache of loneliness rises with in us and we turn the TV on, to fill the room with images of people and their voices. We long for authentic friendships and instead turn to Internet chat rooms and instant messaging to feel connected with others.
Although nothing is inherently wrong with good friends, delicious food, TV, the Internet or other things that occupy our lives, these things and people can become a substitute for coming into a deeper place of intimacy with the God who loves us most. When it finally comes time for us to worship, we put on our dance shoes and dance with malnourished souls, ignorant of His affection for us. Always doing, we never discover how much He loves to simply have the company of our presence with Him. We spend our weeks filling up on that which never really feeds our soul and spirit and now all we have to offer Him is creative choreography, good technical form, but our hearts don’t know Him. Like Esau who traded his inheritance for a meal because of the ache in his stomach, we trade the kisses of God for other things and other embraces.
Yet God does not condemn us. He is not like the jilted lover who goes to great length to let us know how much we have let Him down. Instead He is the loving Father who longs to embrace His children and hold them in His arms. With this same heart, He cried out through His Son, Jesus, in regards to the city of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me. And now you are so desolate.” (Matthew 23:37) Why could He not embrace them and why were they left so desolate? To paraphrase this whole passage leading up to Jesus’ cry over Jerusalem, it could go something like this if He were speaking to us in this century:
“How I have longed to have intimate relationship with you. I have sent people into your life to tell you of My love for you, and My desire for you, yet you seem not to care. The kingdom of God is all about seeking Me first and drinking of My love. Yet, you have shut the door in My face so that neither you nor those who look to you, can enter in. It is I, your Creator, Who longs to satisfy you, but you run to others instead. You focus on the approval of others and everything you do is for show. You stand up to dance before man, but I never find you on your face alone crying out for Me. You move and flow with such grace on the outside, but, inside your heart is filled with selfish ambition, jealousy and resentment toward others. You so quickly become content to go through the motions of reading your Bible, praying, dancing in worship and even living a righteous life, thinking this is enough for Me. No! I want intimacy with you. I desire to feel your breath upon My face, wipe the tears from your eyes and comfort you with My Love. You call others your friend, but I am your Friend. You call others your father, but I am your Father. You call others your teacher, but I am your Teacher. I watch as others comfort you, others teach you, and others love you, and I am consumed with a righteous jealousy. You fill your ears with the approval of others but you don’t cry out out to hear My voice declaring My delight over you. I come knocking on your door to be intimate with you, but you are too tired or too busy to answer it. How often I’ve ached to embrace you, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me. And now you are so desolate.”
Jerusalem never did enter with intimacy with God that day nor does she now. She went on with her life, her religion, her affairs, and was left desolate in the end. She was the “apple of His eye”, but when He stooped to kiss her, she turned her face away. She was content to watch Him from a distance.
When you worship how intimately do you want to dance with Jesus? When the Argentine Tango become popular around 1880 it caused an uproar because of how closely the couple held each other. Before this, men and women stood at a distance opposite one another. Only at certain times would they touch one another and then only briefly with their hands. When writing about the Argentine Tango one writer states, “At the time just to dance in front of each other the right arm of the man touching the back of the lady was a little too much… now here we have a dance in which there is a close embrace, cheek to cheek…in a long conversation of love and passion”. This is how intimately Jesus desires to dance with His bride. He wants to hold you close “cheek to cheek” and “have a long conversation of love and passion” with you. He desires to hold you so close and cover you so completely that you don’t care anymore about all the people around you.
How close will you allow Jesus to dance with you?