Sunday, August 8, 2010

Battle For Intimacy by Josh Fletcher

Week 32--August 8-14
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 37-52; Lamentations 1-5; Psalm 110-113
Key passage for devotion: Jeremiah 2:13, Psalm 108

I was driving home from a weekend trip in our minivan with my wife and three kids when I learned an important lesson about my own limits and the limits of Christ. We were in the final hour of a seven hour trip when my youngest, an almost two-year old, burst into a tantrum. His tirade was the outward expression of the tiredness that we all felt. We just wanted to get home. Have you ever felt this way? Sometimes circumstances just make you want to scream! There are times in life when you feel like things are out of your control or when you feel as if you have been strapped down and stuck in an uncomfortable place for far too long. Lord, just take me away!!

I was driving our van during the tantrum. The volume escalated and intensified in the seat directly behind me for about 30 minutes. My son has healthy lungs. He was tired and wanted to get up. No matter what my wife tried to do, he just would not come out of his tantrum. We were so close to home and driving in thick traffic that exiting the interstate was not an option. I began to lose my patience. I suggested things to my wife. (Bad idea guys.) I tried to soothe him from the driver’s seat. That didn’t work either and why would it. Finally, I hit my limit and just let out a scream of my own!! It was at that moment that I realized the limits of my own personal cistern.

Jeremiah 2:13 discusses the double evil of abandoning God, the fountain of living water, for cisterns dug by human hands. These cisterns cannot hold water. They are limited by their flaws. No amount of self discipline or complexity of breathing technique would have helped me or my youngest overcome our irritations or circumstances. Only the peace and strength of God can help us endure to the end.

It is a battle, a fight, to develop and maintain Christ-like character in all of life and not just on Sunday morning. But it is a battle we must fight. All the religious activity in the world will not help me in this fight. The battle of life is not for better programs and paradigms, cities or nations, personal piety, or even lost souls. The battle of life is for intimacy with God. Intimacy is the source of confident assurance in who Christ is for me and therefore who I am in Christ. Christ, the only “fountain of living water” flows through me and He accomplishes without fail His purposes on earth. From the confident heart flows true praise! (Psalm 108). If I can believe that the circumstances of life, (all our circumstances good and bad) are there to help me develop a greater level of intimacy with my Jesus than I am well on my way to experiencing the source of freedom and contentment, Jesus himself. And when He is my source of life, no child’s tantrum or screaming demon of hell can remove me from His grip.

Josh is the Director of Spiritual Formation and Men's Ministries at Crossroads Church in Concord, NC.  Pictured with his family.

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