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Not only did God create us to crave intimacy with our spouses, He also created us to have just as strong a desire for intimacy with Him. And just as a human alone is only a part of the whole, people without God are only a part of what God intended them to be. Hear this well: You will never achieve intimacy with your mate to the level God intended if each of you doesnít also strive for intimacy with Him.
Donít underestimate the power of what you just read. It isnít just ďreligiousĒ talk; itís the absolute truth. Let me say it again: If you want the deepest level of intimacy with each other, you must first each develop a deep level of personal intimacy with God. If you try to develop marital intimacy without intimacy with God, you will shortchange yourself and your mate.
What makes me so sure of that? Again, itís the way God made us. Let me illustrate that from the Bible by sharing the outpourings of the inspired psalmist as he articulates his deep craving for intimacy with God on high.
0 God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you... Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands... On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night... My soul clings to you. (Psalm 63:1, 3-4, 6, 8)
ďYour love is better than life.Ē Quite a statement, isnít it? He sounds like a man completely lost in his love for a woman. But it isnít that kind of intimacy he craves here. Itís just as intense, but itís directed not toward another human but toward God Himself.
You Have this Craving
Whether you recognize it or not, you, too, have that kind of longing for the presence of God. That need is just as inherent in us as our need for union with another person. But just as some people are too misfocused or unfocused to understand their need for intimacy with a mate, others are too misfocused or unfocused to understand their need for intimacy with God. The craving is there but buried under layers of misdirection and misunderstanding.
If a person says he or she doesnít need God, does this mean the need is not there? No; it just means that the need isnít acknowledged. And because it isnít acknowledged, the person is missing out on the most fulfilling relationship he or she could have ó intimacy with God. Unfortunately, it means missing out on the second most fulfilling relationship as well. A lack of intimacy with God affects not only your relationship with God but also your relationship with your spouse.
That even applies when one spouse craves and seeks intimacy with God and the other doesnít. That coupleís intimacy suffers as well. If either of the spouses varies greatly from the other in any of the three areas of intimacy (sexual, emotional, and spiritual), they drift farther apart rather than coming closer together. But if both come closer to God their intimacy grows dramatically.
Notice in the following diagram that if one spouse grows closer to God (moving up the side of the triangle) while the other spouse remains at the lowest point on his or her side of the triangle, the distance between the spouses increases.
But if both spouses move closer to God (each moving up their respective sides of the triangle), the distance between the spouses decreases. In other words, by coming closer to God, they come closer to each other.
Alice and I learned this firsthand. Weíd just finished a very special weekend that I called Wounded Believers. With more bravado than courage, Iíd called a Christian couple I didnít know in Atlanta and asked them if I could take over their house for an entire weekend. Because God had blessed this couple financially, they owned a rather large dwelling that could accommodate a large group.
I brought about thirty.
Everyone there was a Christian who had been through some type of spiritual suffering ó some because of their own actions and some because of what others had done to them. The idea was that we Wounded Believers would spend an intensive weekend in spiritual study and growth. Weíd worship, pray, study, share, and, if needed, confess. No schedule guided us. We ignored clocks. We stopped and cooked when we wanted to eat. We ended our sessions late and drifted off to sleep in the wee hours. Our focus was completely on how each of us could restore or renew our relationships with God.
Exhausted physically and emotionally, Alice and I were the last ones to leave on Sunday afternoon. Alice has a servantís heart and wouldnít leave the donated house until it was absolutely perfect. Thatís one of the things that makes her so special. As we drove on the three-hour trip home, we talked little and thought a lot. During the drive home, Alice suddenly said, ďYouíre different somehow.Ē
ďYour love is better than life.Ē
I looked at Alice as she said it and thought, ďYeah, I am. And itís not just on the surface. Something happened to me deep inside, and I didnít even notice it as it happened. I just know that Iím different. Changed. Better.Ē
During that weekend, my own relationship with God changed and, as a result, I changed too. I wasnít hyped or exhilarated. I was calm. Calmer than Iíd been in years. And at peace. At peace with God. At peace with where I was in life. At peace with myself.
While the weekend affected Alice in very dramatic ways as well, it seemed to affect me more. It didnít take long to figure why. I needed it more. She was closer to God than I. Iíd let too many things get too important and too demanding to keep myself on an even spiritual keel like she had.
What happened next was one of the most profound experiences of our marriage.
Alice said, ďIíve lied to you.Ē
Surprisingly, her statement didnít startle me. No defenses came up. No adrenaline rushed into my bloodstream. None of my normal reactions that might have slammed me on hearing those words. ďReally? About what?Ē
Itís not important for you to know what the lie was. In the context of many things it could have been, it wasnít even that big a deal. She had manipulated something because she was trying to protect me from feeling bad, and now she wanted to set it right. The lie wasnít the important thing. What was happening in our relationship was. We talked with complete openness and honesty. We each shared our hearts with each other without any defensiveness, dodging, or denigration. We talked more intimately than we had in years.
And it was all because of a deeply spiritual weekend where each of us had worked on his or her own relationship with God. By becoming closer to Him, we had changed for the better our relationship with each other.
We recommend that same process for you.
Becoming One with God
By now, youíve seen that Godís natural order for men and women is that they be one. So letís make the word one easy to remember. Forming it into an acrostic we see:
0 ó our
N ó natural
E ó element
Becoming ONE simply means fulfilling and living within our natural element. It isnít supposed to be unusual or extraordinary: instead, itís the union that God intended from the very beginning. When two people marry each other, ONEness is the way itís supposed to be. So from now on, when we refer to becoming one, weíll do so with capital letters. Becoming ONE. Achieving ONEness.
Two parts that make a whole.
Two people becoming ONE.
Thatís what you wanted when you married, wasnít it? Wholeness. Completeness. ONEness.
by Joe Beam
Joe Beam is president of LovePath International. This article was taken from his book, "Becoming One: Emotionally, Spiritually, & Sexually" © 1999, Howard Publishing Company. Used by permission.
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