1 Samuel 16:7 “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
There’s nothing like spending time with the one person in your life that you feel adores you. Who can you name in your life that is your safe place, your haven, with skin on? Maybe it’s different people for different reasons. Maybe it’s one person who is always there for you no matter what- your spouse, your parent, your best friend, your adult child. I have no idea who it might be but i do know this. We all long to have that person in our lives because we all have a God given need to have our lives witnessed.
I believe marriage is designed to be about two people who are the primary witnesses to each other’s lives. Actually, this had not occurred to me until a number of years ago when my husband and i watched a movie called Shall We Dance. In the movie, a wife suspected her husband of adultery and hired a private investigator. There was one scene in the movie where Susan Sarandon was sitting at a bar, talking to the PI, and said these words: “We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.” It impacted me as I realized more and more, as time went on, that this is truth.
To experience true intimacy in a marriage, witnessing is a necessity. I’m not talking about just living life side by side, half noticing the other person. I’m talking about truly witnessing. It’s an “other centered” thing, not a “me” centered endeavor. It’s knowing your spouse’s deep heart and wanting to nurture and protect it. It’s not about you. It’s about them. It’s about investing in them. Co-existing isn’t witnessing. It’s co-existing. Most people can simply co-exist. They don’t have to be married. It’s intimacy that causes the difference between roommates versus husband and wife. Where there is no true witnessing, there is a void. In cases like that, and I’ve known many, typically one person is left feeling emotionally abandoned, sometimes living in an internal desperate silence, ripe for the picking if someone happens to show up wanting to truly be a witness to their life. In those cases, the emotionally abandoned one ends up having to fight to stay true as he or she resists the temptation to have a God given need filled in an ungodly way, a victim of their spouse’s sin of abandonment. it’s a very, very, very tough place to be. And the culpable party is not just the person in temptation. In a very real sense, the more culpable party is the spouse who refuses to fill his or her God given role in the first place. Sin always comes with a price and in this instance, the abandoned spouse typically carries the greater injury and the temptation. There’s nothing fair about it. But I digress.
Witnessing isn’t just for marriages, however. It’s a requirement for any intimacy. Witnessing requires paying attention, listening, speaking from the heart, caring about what you see, reading between the lines, studying the other person, learning who they are. Witnessing is about the deep heart, not what’s on the menu for dinner. This is what a true marriage looks like- two people witnessing each other. And having witnessed, they each care about the other person’s heart and about protecting it. It’s about sacrificing what we want for what the person of our affection wants when it is appropriate and when it’s sacrificial. It’s also about a willingness to be vulnerable and transparent.
If intimacy requires transparency, then it requires risk as well. So here’s the real question. What are we risking to experience intimacy with Christ? Is it uncomfortable to get silent with Him? Is it scary to get silent and be afraid He won’t speak or that we can’t hear Him? Is it frightening to think what He might say? Why aren’t we being still and quiet with Him, alone with Him? Why? Because we don’t know the depths of His love. If we did, we would long for time alone, time in silence, time communing with Him. We would hold onto it and preserve it, cherish it and immerse ourselves in it. THIS is the experience for which we all long- to be with the One who deeply adores us, who cares about our deep heart and who can speak words that heal, encourage, and fulfill us. We want to be witnessed, we long to be known, and we desire for it to matter. And He is ready, always, and waiting for our stillness- because we do matter.
This is what I believe: Jesus didn’t die on a cross to co-exist in our lives. He doesn’t want to be stuck in the Book on the table that’s written about Him. He doesn’t want us to just learn about Him from someone preaching on Sunday morning. He doesn’t want us to primarily experience Him through someone else’s life. That’s an arms length relationship. And He is the groom and we are His bride. THAT is the depth of intimacy He desires with us. He is the primary witness to our lives. He knows our deep heart, our deepest thoughts. He knows when we are hurting and when we are struggling to find joy but everyone around us thinks our life is peachy. He knows. He is witnessing us. He loves us. He adores us more than any human can or ever will. Are we willing to believe it? Are we willing to put aside our feelings and trust Him- and be vulnerable? He’s waiting. He’s always ready to spend time with us.
He longs for us to witness Him as well. He longs for us to get quiet, with a cup of tea or in a candle lit bubble bath or lying in bed, or somewhere- with no one around, with no electronic disturbance. He wants quiet, solitude, and us in our prayer closet. Why does He say closet? Privacy! Intimacy! (Matthew 6:6)
I encourage you, and I encourage myself, to be a witness to His heart. Let Him show you that He’s listening. Find His heart and see that it is focused on you. He alone is the one that can actually DO something about what is in our heart- be it wounded or whole. And He adores us. He is here, He is waiting.
Takeaway: Jesus desires true intimacy with us. True intimacy involves an exchange of the deep heart by both parties. Are we afraid to make the time? Are we willing to be so vulnerable? Are we entering into a private time, alone with Him, where we can experience the intimacy for which He longs and for which we are designed? It’s in that place that we will find fullness, healing, and freedom. Cross the barrier to intimacy with Christ and find His open arms, waiting to hold us in the ways we long to be held- such protection for our heart.
Prayer: Father, help me to know and understand that what my deep heart longs for can only be found in true intimacy with you. There is no human that will ever meet the deepest need in me to be witnessed, to be known, and to be loved. Please let me remove the burden from another person’s back because no one will ever fill this longing but You. And help me to make the time, to become vulnerable, and to spend quiet time (with praise music, too, if it helps) alone with you, my first love.