False Places of Communion

written by J. A. Hart
This is the final blog for our Intimate Places Series.  

This blog continues the invitation we accepted last week. It is the same invitation God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden east of Eden, Come and have intimate communion with me in this place I made for you and you for it.

Last blog, you went back in your story with God and allowed him to show you the intimate places he communed with you when you were young. This week, you will face some of the false places that deterred you from these intimate places. Let’s begin as we did last week by consecrating our hearts and this space.

Consecration


How you step into this invitation is important. The biggest challenges you face are the enemies set against you, who want to keep you from walking with God. Each enemy uses distinct strategies to keep you blind and unaware of the intimate places your heavenly Dad, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are calling you to. We need to begin by consecrating this space and our hearts, so we can hear God’s voice with clarity and receive his words.

Let’s consecrate this space:

Heavenly Dad, I invite you into this time. I invite you into this space. I claim this space for you. This is your kingdom, Jesus. Here, your authority is recognized above all others. Your love is recognized above all others. Father, be in my presence. Lead my heart to your heart, your truth, your life. I consecrate this space now. Holy Spirit, be here now. Speak to my heart in ways I know and understand. Set your angels around this space. Protect my heart from any and all attacks. I rebuke the enemies, in Jesus’ name. I bind them in Jesus’ name and put them at your throne for you to deal with. This space is Yours. In Jesus’ name, I pray all these things. Amen.

This space belongs to your heavenly Dad, but the enemies won’t stop their assaults. One strategy they use to attack is accusation and doubt; This is stupid. You are stupid for doing this. All of this is just nonsense. What does it even mean to commune with God? He isn’t like a person in front of you. You can’t hold him or touch him. Is this even real? If your heart hears words like this at any point during this time, pray as Jesus did:

In Jesus’ name, I command (insert what thought, doubt, accusation, or condemnation you are struggling with) to get behind me. I bind it in Jesus’ name and lay it at your feet, Dad. Show me your presence; continue to lead me through this time. My heart is yours. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

You may have to pray this multiple times to ward off an attack. The most belligerent enemies will not idly fall back.

Hands Down

The enemy you face this week is your imposter voice and the voices of others. These voices often keep us from hearing the whispering voice of the Holy Spirit. Pray and release them. As you do, put your hands out and open, facing down:  

Heavenly Dad, I give you every thought on my heart today. I give you every concern, worry, doubt, frustration, to-do, person, performance, and decision. Specifically, I give you (name the specific voices weighing on your heart today. Be as honest as you know how.) to you today; with my hands open and down, I lay these at your feet in Jesus’ name. Take them from me and speak to my heart the words that may fill the space now vacant. Fill me with you.

Some question(s) to help:

What is distracting me? (Tasks, worry, other voices, other sources, etc.)

What is weighing me down?  (Fear, doubt, condemnation, etc.)

What feels heavy this morning?

Spend a moment to sit in this. As things pop into your mind, invite your heavenly Dad into each one, and in your mind's eye, give them to him.
Places of Addiction

Before we experienced pain and suffering, vulnerability was easier to live in as children. Indeed, our hearts were more open to the Quality and Longing when we were young. We lived with abandon and trust in ways our adult selves seldom do.  

From Return to Your Intimate Place of Communion

As children, we open our hearts to the Quality and its Longing, but somewhere along the way, we wall up the entrance to our inner selves, chaining desire to a block. We sink all we long for to the bottom of our hearts, ignoring the whispers from below. We do as Susan does in the Chronicles of Narnia; we “grow up:”

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”

“Yes,” said Eustace, “and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says ‘What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.’”

“Oh Susan!” said Jill, “she’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up, indeed,” said the Lady Polly. “I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

Susan loses sight of the Eternal for less permanent, more apparent things. Is this not what happens to our hearts as adults? We “grow up” and focus solely on our careers, the money we can make, the comfort we could live in, and our 401ks. “This,” the world says, “is what's MOST important.” But truly, it isn’t; there is more, and our hearts know it.

I am convinced this is the reason for Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Our “grown-up” hearts are calloused and unwilling to receive from anyone to the point of our destruction; we must somehow return to what we once were and revive the heart we buried so deep below.

    As grown-ups, we deem the Quality a child’s thing that we must leave behind to step into “adulting.” It’s nonsense, and the effects appear not long after we lose the Quality and, with it, our hearts. We grow tired and weary; our bones ache, and our hearts burn for something else. Yet, we stay in line, following the world’s voice while our hearts scream, “Is this all there is?” Why do we do this? Why do we release the lifeline that leads to God’s heart? This is where we must face the enemies and their two distinct strategies to bend our hearts away from intimate places.

The first is what I describe in my story. As a child, I found the Quality in the stories I loved. I was open to them, and they awoke something in my heart. But as young hearts do without guidance, I turned to those stories to satisfy the Longing they awoke in me, so I squeezed what I could out of them, returning repeatedly. Yet, when I closed the cover each time, I walked away empty, my young heart misplacing its affection. My eyes only saw the words on the page, not the fingerprints of the person communing with my heart beyond.

The second often comes as a result of the first. When I asked these stories to fulfill the Longing they awoke in me, they answered with a resounding, “NO,” wounding my young heart. The place I went to for solace, peace, joy, and ultimately, life rejected me and sent me adrift in confusion. And there, amidst confusion, the enemy impeded; Even what you love will turn it’s back on you. Nothing can be trusted. No one can be trusted. I didn’t want it to be true, so I fought to make it untrue.

I turned to other places, looking for someone or something to fulfill the Longing. People’s approval came next, and when no one could fill the abyss in me, I turned to pornography. It became a place of false intimacy, a place of deep addiction. My heart spent years returning to that place. Over and over, like a dog to its vomit.

All of us experience this at one point or another. The places God communes with us become tainted by false selves and the enemy. We lift the object that awakens Longing above the one who created it for us, and the created object becomes our focus, not the relationship with the one who made it for us. It is like a lover who gives a gift to their beloved only to have the beloved fall in love with the gift and not the giver.

But, he wants to restore the intimate places in our lives. He wants to lead us back to the places he communed with us when we were young, and he wants to show us the places he continues to commune with us even now. But, we need to seek out the places of addiction we’ve allowed to enslave our hearts and invite Jesus to free us and show us the way home. Even when I chose to love the gift and not the giver, God still desired intimacy with me, and he wanted me to return to our intimate place of communion. He never stopped pursuing me.

He led me to the Quality afresh in J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and the Bible. I experienced the Quality again, and it awoke Longing in me. My heart returned to the place of intimate communion, except this time, it was different. The veil on my eyes lifted slightly, and I saw God’s fingerprints throughout their stories. My heart found the hands of someone beyond the story itself, and I saw, for the first time, the heart that communed with mine.

Calibration

Let’s go back to last week; what was the intimate place God unveiled to you? Revive the memory of that moment with your heavenly Dad in your imagination. Ask him to be there with you again.

Dad, I invite you to be here with me now, reveal yourself and your heart in this space. In Jesus' name, I pray.

Is he in the space with you now? Do you see him? What is he doing?

Ask him, What do you think about me? Look into his eyes while he answers you. Listen for his loving, strong voice. Stay in that place for as long as you need to; receive his words. (Remember, if you hear accusation or condemnation or any other words from the enemy or if you are getting in the way, pray against it. Ask your Dad to fight with you, then ask him the question again.)

Now, ask him, What places in my story did you intend for communion that I made places of addiction? Look into his eyes while he answers you. Listen for his loving, strong voice.  Stay in that place for as long as you need to; receive his words. Write down what you heard him say to your heart.  

When you are ready and you want to, take a moment. Pray this:

Jesus, I am sorry for choosing to love (name whatever it is) over you. Forgive me for thinking (name whatever it is) is the source of life for my heart. You may have spoken to me through it, but I never asked you to reveal yourself here, and made it the object of my love. I turn from my way; reveal your Way to me. Show me how you are communing with me in (name whatever it is), and if this is only addiction in my life, help me cut it out and be present to your presence in my life. I love you. I worship you. You alone are life. I receive you with all my spirit, soul, and body, my heart, mind, and will.

Stay in this place for as long as you need to.

A Final Challenge

As you walk away from this blog series, I want to challenge you. Start to step back into your intimate place of communion this week.

Create a rhythm that intentionally puts you in the space, story, or hobby you love, but do it with a twist. While engaging in it, whether it be a movie, woodworking, or just sitting in your favorite tree, invite your heavenly Dad to be with you and ask him what he thinks about you. Ask him what he may have for your heart. Ask him, What do you want to say to me here?

This shift begins to move our hearts away from the object in which we find the Quality to the one who called us through that story, space, or hobby in the first place.

Be with him there and continue to be with him in your intimate place of communion together.
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