Information or Intimacy


I’ll never forget what he said.

A group of us men were sitting in a circle discussing the question of the day. Does God:

A) Give us His word as a set of principles to provide guidelines for our lives?


B) Offer us a relationship by which we communicate with Him in a personal dialogue?

Caleb shared his personal story. For years he studied the Scriptures, using the most accurate translations, consulting a stack of commentaries, seeking sound doctrine through faithful Biblical interpretation. One day he realized that he had accumulated enough data about God to fill a file cabinet.

“But you can’t hug a file cabinet.”

I sat there with my jaw dropped open. He just told my story. My file cabinet wasn’t much of a hugger either. I knew God promised more in a relationship with Him than I had yet experienced. That’s why I was sitting there with those men.

Caleb said that he now enjoyed a close personal relationship with God that included spiritual conversation with Him . I wanted that. But I had no idea how to get it. I sat between a file cabinet and a question mark.

I began trying to cultivate spiritual intimacy with God by creating space for our relationship. But being alone with God just felt like being alone. Quietly listening to God was like holding a seashell to my ear–sounds like the ocean. I felt like:

  • I was sitting alone in a waiting room
  • I was spending time with my imaginary friend
  • I was becoming more intimately familiar with a sense of His absence

In time, here’s what I discovered. Although it felt like God wasn’t present with me, actually, I had to learn to be present with Him. Though it felt like God wasn’t speaking to me, really, I had to learn how to listen to Him. It felt like God had shut and locked His door to me, but I found that I had to learn to open my double-bolted door to Him.

Relationship takes time, and God is patient in relationship building. I had to learn cooperation with God, alone and in spiritual community.  In His time, the Spirit performed His necessary work of soul healing and heart transformation, so that I have begun to enjoy deeper relational intimacy with God.

And I do believe it’s only the beginning.

That’s my experience. What’s yours?

7 thoughts on “Information or Intimacy

  1. Okay … I’m going to have to re-read this post. Not because I didn’t understand what you wrote, but because I did. I so, so did.
    You can’t hug a file cabinet.
    Head knowledge or heart-to-heart relationship with my Creator-God.
    One is safe and satisfying to a point.
    One is scary in a “God knows me, I mean, really, really knows me” kind of way … and that satisfies a soul-longing that I believe all of us have.
    I know I do.
    But I’ve hugged a file cabinet too … and ended up telling a trusted counselor: I know all the right answers. They just don’t work anymore. Knowledge without (or with limited) relationship.
    God wants more than that.
    He wants me.
    And he wants me to want him — not just information about him.

    • My post really needed some fleshing out, some explaining and expanding. I thank you so much for doing that! Spot on. Eternal life is not head-knowledge of Jesus and the Father who sent Him (right answers). It’s so much more than that. It’s relational knowledge, experiential knowledge, intimate knowledge of God. Thanks again for your contribution to this most important discussion.

  2. I am new to your blog but a friend posted a link to it on Facebook. This subject is near and dear to my heart. Like Beth, I have been thinking about this for so long! Larry Crabb has two books which have been so helpful to me. The first one, “The Pressure’s Off”, explains the New Way vs. the Old Way of living the Christian life. I think it is the most valuable book I have read on the subject. His second book, “The Papa Prayer”, speaks to the intimacy you have written about. In fact, Dr. Crabb says that until we learn to have a relationship with God– enjoying His presence and craving Him over any blessing He could give–we will never understand prayer and the promises Christ made regarding it.

    It surely is good to know that other believers are seeking for the same thing. I so appreciated your post today!

    • I’m so glad you dropped in. Thank you so much for your contribution to this discussion. I’ve read the Larry Crabb books you mentioned and profited from them, too. You are so right. When God uncovers our deepest desire–to know Him–that’s when we begin to enter deeply into what God promises us in the gospel.

  3. Since Beth Vogt took the liberty of liking my post in your honor, (you’ll have to come visit to find out “the rest of the story”), I’d like to share a link to your blog. We’re sharing funny moments over there and “can’t hug a file cabinet” is funny.

    When I read your posts, I catch myself laughing, nodding my head, and thinking a little deeper. That’s a good combo for me.

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