We serve a God who desperately wants to be in relationship with every one of us. This blows my mind. The Creator of the universe, the Author of all of the events on this planet, God himself(!) wants to have a relationship with us (me)? Why? We, as humans, are full of pride, greed, lust, selfishness, arrogance (the list goes on and on). I am quickly reminded of the popular verse, John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Why does he want to have a personal relationship with each of us? Simply because He loves us.
Some of the sweetest parts of relationships come from moments that are “Just Between Us.” Intimacy in marriage happens when moments occur that are “just between us.” Intimacy with our children happens in times that are “just between us.” Intimacy in friendship happens when you share time that is “just between us.” And guess what? Intimacy with the Lord happens in moments shared “just between us.”
What does the Lord claim as “Just Between Us” moments? In Matthew 6, Jesus lists three.
First, he tells us to give privately to those in need. God wants to be glorified through us and if we give publicly, our sinful nature may want to take the credit, glory, and praise. Giving privately allows for God to see our hearts in action, trusting His word and seeking to find intimacy in our relationship with Him. And, being the God that He is, He promises to reward those who keep gift-giving to those in need on the low-down. I know you can all relate to this: The feeling that you get when you give in private or anonymously is a blessing from the Lord– it’s His pat on the back for your obedience. I wanted our girls to experience the joy of giving in private. Last May, we put together May Day Baskets for several of our friends. Early on May 1, with PJs still on, we got into the car packed with baskets and a drive route planned and set out to deliver them. At each house, the girls would quietly run up to the door, set the baskets down, knock (or ring the doorbell) and RUN back to the car for a quick escape. The smiles on their faces and they joy in their hearts was priceless to witness; they were experiencing the joy of giving privately. Now, this clearly was not giving to people in need, however, the girls understood His heart when it comes to giving privately so that you remove yourself from self-glorification. I found out later that one of the families who received these baskets raced out to do something similar to some friends in their neighborhood. After doing so, those friends were inspired to do the same thing too. I tell you this not to shine light on our deed, but to demonstrate the power of Him! His command to us to give privately not only takes the spotlight off of ourselves, it also inspires those who receive the gift to pay it forward to others. And by the way, the gift doesn’t always have to be something of monetary value. It could simply be a note of encouragement, a gospel tract, a bottle of water, a smile or hug. One thing is for sure: When He puts something on your heart to do for another person, a “Just Between Us” moment awaits and His blessing spreads like a wildfire.
He also tells us that when we pray, we should go away by ourselves, shut the door, and pray to Him privately. He follows with the promise that He will reward those who pray in this way. Once again, praying loudly in front of others can quickly turn from something honoring to the Lord into something that is self-seeking and our pride somehow shoves its way back into the spotlight and the focus quickly moves away from the Lord and onto ourselves: “Look at me. Look at my holiness. Look at my abilities to use such large, lovely words.” God doesn’t need or want this public, arrogant display. He wants our hearts. He wants our friendship. He wants time with us, alone and private. This is not to say that there is not a place for public prayer. There is power in public prayer when a group is united in audible, public prayer. In fact, he tells us in Matthew 18:20 that when two or more gather in His name, He is there. Again, prayer is a matter of the heart and He is the only one who truly knows our hearts. He wants your focus, your time, and your attention when you pray, not fixed on how you may sound to others or how you may appear to others, but that you are seeking Him and Him alone. It is in the quiet times of your life, when you are alone with him in prayer that you get to experience the sweet “just between us” moments. Guard this time carefully. It is so valuable in your walk with Him.
Lastly, He tells us to fast privately. We shouldn’t walk around with a look of struggle and hunger in hopes of prompting question so that we can report our “godliness.” Fasting privately, taking every measure to ensure that we look similar to any other day or time, is what He wants. This time of fasting is between you and Lord. Nobody else needs to know about it. If you’re interested in reading more about the power of fasting and praying, check out this link. I think it does a great job discussing the reasons for it: The Power of Prayer and Fasting by Marilyn Hickey.
The Lord wants our hearts. He wants our focus. He wants us to die to ourselves daily so that He can shine through us. The areas of our life that He has taken time to claim as private are so that the focus remains solely on Him and not ourselves. He knows our weaknesses as humans. He lived in the flesh amongst humans so that He could truly understand our poor condition and rescue us from our selves and all of the sinful desires that try to put the focus on ourselves and away from Him. If you struggle in any of these three areas, I encourage you to confess it to the Lord and ask Him to help you die more to your flesh so that the sweetness of your relationship with Him can be experienced. He wants a “Just Between Us” relationship with you. Pursue Him in these ways and you will be rewarded. It’s a promise from Him!