In the first chapter of John’s gospel, we find two of John the Baptist’s disciples beginning to follow Jesus. “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What are you after?'” That question remains throughout the rest of John’s gospel, suggesting that beneath everything else there is a search taking place. At the end of John, Mary Magdalene, encounters the risen Lord. Jesus asks her the same question, “What do you want?” With deep affection, Jesus says, “Mary.” As we journey with Jesus our heart longs to be addressed in a similar manner. Think of the most intimate relationship that you have. Doesn’t it go far beyond word and thoughts, to matters of the heart.
Prayer is a personal relationship with the Lord, involving our head (thoughts) as well as our hearts (affections). When prayer does not touch our hearts, we will offer niece, religious words to the Lord. This results in a tendency to be talking with ourselves rather than God, because we not speaking from our hearts. Men, we need to allow God to touch our hearts. What we need most is to hear God’s voice within saying, “I love you.” “Nothing will heal us more and nothing will make us more bold before life’s mystery and goodness than hearing those words from God. Our very capacity to love depends upon it” ( Rolheiser).
So why is it so hard for me to be real and share my true feelings? Well, here are some things I have found out for myself. First, I make my relationship with God too complicated. I preform rather than relate. The truth is that if I have trusted in Christ as my Savior, he already lives at the deepest place in me (His Spirit witnessing with my spirit -Rom 8:16), far beyond my understanding. So he knows more about me then I do about myself, while loving me unconditionally. So I don’t have to hide, I can be real. Secondly, life has taught me as a man to withhold my true feelings and affections, for fear of being hurt. But God, who is merciful, isn’t going to hurt me. He waits for me to be real. Thirdly, I have always put on my best “religious face” when I think I am relating to the Lord. What happens is that I end up talking to myself. How unreal can I get? If I can’t share my heart with God, then I will not be able to receive his love for me. Isn’t that what an intimate relationship is all about.
I know that I have stepped into some deep water. My burden for men reading this blog today is that you can have an intimate relationship Jesus. I’ll make it as simply as I can: 1) You have a father who delights in you, 2) You have a Savior who is your friend (John 14:15) and 3) you have the Holy Spirit who is your helper (John 16:12). So relax, be honest, share your whole heart with the Lord, and allow him to love you. He waits for you to come home to him. I know this is a daily practice for me.