This is a guest post by our friend Tim Spurgeon. Tim is leading many men into a closer relationship with Jesus in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Here is his story.
Part One: Out in the Open
When I look back over the past few years, I can see the Father’s hand at work in my life, drawing me gently, more and more deeply into an intimate relationship with Him.
It has taken me a while to fully realise what has been going on and what, or more specifically who, is behind it but I am finally entering a period of acceptance of what God is doing and beginning to embrace a friendship with Him.
The journey really started many years ago as I was drawn more and more to spending time outdoors and using this as an environment for prayer and reflection. I began using my mountain bike and cycling to the highest point around and then finding a place to sit. I always found that when I did this, I was able to get a sense of the ‘bigger picture’, the ‘bigger story’ and problems/stresses that I had been experiencing were placed in their proper perspective and I gained a sense of God’s perspective being so much bigger and eternal and this would bring a real sense of peace. I would find that as I ‘come back down’ and back into everyday life, whether work/family/ministry it would be with a very different attitude, often with a new sense of love for those around me and a clearer picture on decisions that needed to be made.
I have been drawn to re-look at the beginning of our ‘story’ – in the Garden of Eden. I’ll pick it up in Gen. Ch.3 v. 8:
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
This is the point where Adam and Eve come to the realisation of what they had done. They hear God approaching and were ashamed and afraid. Now we come to the key point for me and we get a glimpse of the heart of God, his true heart toward us. God expected to find them ‘out in the open’, ready to receive Him as He approached and enjoy an intimate moment of ‘friendship’. I get a sense of the Holy Spirit revealing something very special about God’s heart and feelings toward us in verse 9:
“But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'”
I have spent a lot of time reflecting on these words, in particular “Where are you?” This is incredible, here is the God Almighty, and He sounds hurt, open, and vulnerable as He struggles to comprehend where they are, why aren’t they here to meet Him? This surely is what God made us for, to be in an intimate relationship with Him, at a heart level, open, vulnerable, naked, and intimate and now you sense His heart being broken as he finds separation.
I love this track by Kari Jobe, it’s such a great place to start by considering who it is we serve. Timeless.
Kari Jobe – Yahweh
As we come back to the story, we have to ask: ‘now where was Satan in all of this, what were his real motives in tempting Eve?’ Surely it was for this very reason; to break the intimacy between us and God. Why? Because he hates God and wants to hurt Him and so he goes for the most vulnerable and open part of God: His heart. If Satan can break the intimacy with God that we were designed for, he knows that this will break God’s heart and cause Him pain. The amazing thing is Adam and Eve had just engaged in the most major battle of all mankind and they didn’t even realise it! So this is the assault that we all face, that I have faced; to break our intimacy with God, to deny us a friendship with God. It is all based on a lie of course (Jesus has made this relationship a reality for us again), but how many of us have succumbed to the assault without even realising our enemy was around or that we were even in a battle? His assault on us is actually an assault on God and is specific and direct and that is to break or deny a friendship with God. Satan knows that Jesus has made this possible for us again and so he has to lie and deceive us that we are unworthy, ashamed, afraid, naked and that when God comes to meet with us ‘in the cool of the day’ v.8 He is angry, judgemental, condemnational and so our natural instinct is to hide!