- Rev. Michelle Vernone
Seeking Deeper Intimacy with God
“…Your Father in Heaven already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of Heaven above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:32b -33
We’re one month in to the New Year; one month in to intentionally pursuing deeper intimacy with God; one month in to seeing the holy and sacred in the everyday. It’s been a beautiful and challenging month for me. Choosing God, Jesus, the movement of the Holy Spirit first means letting my lists, agendas, and plans go by the wayside. It’s often referred to as the “ministry of interruption.” It makes me crazy. I’m a doer. I’m a fixer. I produce. I accomplish. When my lists go unfinished or items continually moved to “tomorrow”, I get twitchy. And yet, if I let go and look at what has been accomplished, in light of God’s heart, it’s much more than if I’d been finishing my lists.
Real, healthy, meaningful relationships are more important than the “work” of the day. Don’t get me wrong – the work has to get done, get done with excellence and in an appropriately timely manner. But in the Kingdom, Jesus’ love for people is the standard by which we set our priorities. In last month’s letter I shared some of the whispers and invitations I’m hearing from the Lord. As I continue to pursue God’s heart for me and for our church in this season, this scripture is another of the whispers and the wooing. “Seek the Kingdom first. I’m giving you everything you need, so look first for me and take care of the things I say are important and trust me to take care of you.” I find this “invitation” is more like a challenge. It demands that I peel my fingers loose of the grip I have on my life and my circumstances so that God can do what I cannot. With open hands, I can receive what God is pouring out and put my hands to God’s purposes – to God’s people.
If we are seeking the Kingdom of Heaven first, then we are spending real, unhurried time with people - with each other. If we are seeking the Kingdom, then more than serving or meeting needs or doing mission, we are building relationships. Honest, messy, difficult, sometimes unwanted, relationships. Beautiful, life-giving, and hopefully life-changing relationships with Christ at the center. In the last month, I’ve been intentional about increasing my “person to person” contact every day. Meeting people for breakfast, lunch, for coffee – more home visits, more personal conversations, more texts, more phone calls, more reaching out. What God has shown me is that we, as a community (including myself), are hungry, almost desperate, for real human contact that reaches deeper than “hey, how are you.” We’re hungry for quality and quantity time. We’re in need of steady ongoing, ever deepening, intimate relationship. This invitation to be more intimate with God is to move us into being more intimate with each other too.
How well do you know the people you sit beside in worship? Do you know what is happening in the lives of the people you’ve known for years but only on Sunday? What about your neighbors? Do your conversations move past, “hello”? Who could you reach out to today? Who could you invite to church with you on Sunday? Who could you include with your “usual crowd”? Who could you invite to lunch with you after church? How could your life be changed for the better by welcoming another person into it?