THE WHOLE-HEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 2: INTIMACY
Exchanging Pain for Joy
Childlike faith – what does that mean to you? Can you remember when you were three or four years old, and just sitting on your father’s lap? Or maybe more recently, when you were the parent and your child was just resting in your embrace, fully relaxed, fully secure, knowing they were loved?
When Jesus was asked who was greatest in His kingdom, He pulled a little child to Him and told His disciples that whoever humbles himself like a little child is the greatest in the kingdom. Whoever can fully rest in Jesus, fully trusting, just content in His presence – that person is great in His kingdom.
Childlike faith is how we grow in intimacy with God. We have full access to Him. We are fully loved in an intimate, unrestrained way. The more we enter into soaking prayer and into the Immanuel Moment – the more our childlike faith grows. When we are fully conscious of being with Him and listening to Him, we are exchanging pain for joy.
How do I overflow in my intimacy with other people?
It’s from this place of intimacy with God that we overflow in our intimacy with other people. When we’ve got that childlike faith, and we can just rest in His presence and receive His love, then we receive what He has to give us. Like a grandfather handing his child little treats, we can unwrap healing and restoration and refreshment.
It is this place that heals our heart, and then we’re able to engage with others from that place of peace and joy. When you’re overflowing with joy, people feel safe and connected with you. When joy isn’t in the picture, others are going to be guarded, closed off, fearful of engaging.
Peace and joy – those are the characteristics of little children. They’re naturally happy — they can run around and just be carefree and joyful. And then they’re ready to climb up in Mom’s arms or Dad’s lap and just rest and be peaceful. Remember those are the two things that our brain requires: peace and joy.
Why do we need peace and rest?
There was a scientific study, with little children and tickling. What happens when you tickle a small child? They laugh and giggle and wriggle and they’re just full of joy. And then, they’re like, “Okay, okay, stop a minute, I need to catch my breath!” And they have a little bit of a break, and then they’re like, “Do me again!” They want more joy.
The same thing happens with infants. You look at them, you smile, and they smile, and they’re really happy and animated, and you’re engaging back and forth. But at some point, they will look away. Why? Because they need to take that break – they need the joy, but they also need the peace and rest. And then they’ll come back and look at you, and they’ll reconnect with you.
Just test it out – any baby. They have lots of joy, but if they get overstimulated, they get cranky. We all need peace, we need rest. Not just sleep, but peace. We all need joy, and we all need peace. We need to connect and then we need to rest. We need to go through this rhythm of joy and rest.
There’s a way to be able to do that, with God. That’s the example I wanted to give you with the Immanuel moment – where you’re drawing into the presence of Jesus – and you know He’s there and you know He’s good, and you’re just building up your joy capacity in your brain. And then your brain needs that restful quiet.
How do I find joy in God’s presence? (Acts 2:28)
I want to leave you with a couple of scriptures. One is Acts 2:28, “You have made known to me the paths of life, You will fill me with joy in Your presence.” Listen, “You have made known to me the paths of life” – it’s already been done. It will also be made known to you. When we just enter into His presence, He will fill us with joy.
We’ve got to release whatever pain is there, and He will replace it with joy. He’s a great exchanger. So, enter into His presence! Release the negative that you need to let go of to replace it with the joy of His presence. He wants to fill you!
How do I walk in the light of God’s presence? (Psalm 89:15)
There’s also a verse in Psalm 89:15 – “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You; who walk in the light of Your presence, Lord.” There’s a blessing there when we learn to do that. To “acclaim” God has the idea of powerful worship – shouts of joy, trumpet blasts, a battle cry for the One who wars for us! Worship leads us into the light of His presence.
What brings peace? (Numbers 6:24-26)
And the last scripture I want to leave you with is Numbers 6:24-26. This is the Aaronic blessing – the blessing of Aaron – “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to You.” The Lord make His face to shine toward you – as you look to Him in that intimate encounter – and give you peace.
So, I bless you – I bless you guys to pursue intimacy with God. Go one step deeper with Him and practice this joy capacity. Practice building intimacy with the people you know and love. This is quality time, time paying attention to one another, going deeper, asking deeper questions, and be willing to open your heart to those in your inner circle who can pass some trust tests. We want to build and grow in that place of intimacy. We need that with God, as well as with people.
Until next time, let’s live well, love deeply, and live boldly.
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