When Intimacy with God Becomes More than a Catch-Phrase

not without me

My thumbs flew across the screen of my iPhone, “So, if he who abides in God and God abides in him bears much fruit—where’s the fruit? Am I not abiding?”

I was texting my husband Matt, my sounding board and theology coach for times like these. Times when some pretty powerful hurts were leaking right into my joy.

“It’s about constant communion, Jo Ann,” my husband texted back. “And rest. Not condemnation.”

Seems good fruit is born in a heart joined with God, not the world.

Do I believe?  Deeply.

Pray?  Regularly.

Try to align my daily life with godly principles?  Consistently.

But is my heart {truly} joined with God in all circumstances? Do I {fully} rely on Him for my next breath? Do I persevere in His strength when all about me comes crashing down?

Do I marry my responses to life to my trust in God? This is the abiding; the joining together that I believe John speaks of {John 15}.

Many of us live and do our own thing without this sort of abiding, loving God and getting through life as best we can, but to have the fruit requires the communion.This abiding principle, I imagine it is a daily, minute-by-minute encounter, an experience with the living breathing God who wants to consume our hearts.

As crisp as the fresh linens I was folding, God nudged my heart with this impression: “Do not attempt a single day without me.”

Buried beneath the lie of my daily routine, I can’t count the days I had walked without His nourishment—without Him.

Intimacy with God. It’s become a cool catch phrase for many, trending on Twitter even.  But it’s a sad thing to serve God without knowing His true heart, without opening our hearts to His very presence. There’s an unfathomably close relationship with God available to us, an Intimacy that runs so deep it has the power to overcome these days that hurts threaten our joy.

This abiding invites us deeper, into a love that carries us above circumstances; into a life that is truly productive and fruitful.

When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon {John 15:5-8 MSG}.

Have you ever allowed the hurts of life to pull you away from God? Maybe you’re feeling dry, even now? Won’t you joining me in leaning in closer to the One who understands, close enough to feel His very breath? Let’s remain here. For it is in this abiding, ongoing state of expectancy, that this connectedness with God captures our hearts.


DEEPER STILL: What sort of things are pulling you away from God these days? And how are you fighting your way back {if you are}?


{Find more encouragement with Jo Ann’s recently released book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Using Your Story to Make a Difference.}

28 thoughts on “When Intimacy with God Becomes More than a Catch-Phrase

  1. What cheap imitation am I holding onto? And what am I willing to release to get more of Him? Just our conservation this morning. Great word this morning Jo Ann. I settle for the lesser when He wants to give more, since I am filled other things I limit his ability to fill me with what He has for me….creativity, destiny, purpose.

  2. Jo Ann – Funny how we wrote something similar this morning. thank you for allowing me to share my words here. Love you. – t

    Good morning wild heart –

    It’s not easy waiting hopeful for new circumstances. That way of thinking leaves us waiting blind for an answer we want instead of recognizing God leading our hearts closer to Him.

    Today let’s you and I stand together and start trusting…really trusting God, living in the moments He has given us today.

    “Being” all in with a grateful heart.



  3. This has been the theme of my heart recently, Jo Ann. Please continue to pray for me to abide in Him and follow where He leads. Love you!

  4. I wrote this on Facebook the other day: “After a really nice conversation with Him this morning, I have realized I need to spend my early mornings with Him and His Word and keep an open dialog with Him all day. I want, and feel the need, to let my Heavenly Father become my best friend.” I truly feel that God is pulling me ever closer to Him and calling me to walk every step, breathe every breath, dream every dream, pray every prayer (the list can go on and on 😉 )with Him, for Him and through Him. Only in Him can I find the strength to make it through whatever comes my way. He is speaking loud and clear now. 🙂 Thank you, once again, my friend, for following His leading in your life and writing your heart-words today. <3

  5. This morning I read these words: “If we see ourselves as sinners trying to be better Christians, that is how we live. If we see ourselves as sinners, who died and was buried with Christ and raised to New life, that is how we will live.” Wow, a completely different perspective in our relationship thinking.

  6. Jo Ann, this so sounds like something I would ask. I am constantly concerned that I am not doing enough to stay close to Him. I forget many times that I don’t have to do anything, or be anything, or try harder…I just need to be….and be with Him. I need these reminders daily most times. I get caught up in trying to do better and be better that I forget that all I do is nothing more than filthy rags, and it doesn’t make me any more important or any more loved.

  7. When I feel like I am not close to God is the things that really do not matter and when I am close to God makes me feel secure in God knowing how much God loves me and that God is faithful to me for every need I do have . When I pray and ask for God to send me friends who I can share with and they will be here for me . We aren’t suppose to live this life by ourselves we are suppose to have friends around us for encouragement and love and I am thankful that I have friends who pray and who are there for me even if they are busy in their own lives . I know that I am doing what God wants for me to share and I know that when I share with others I know God is wanting me to bring encouragement and to get out of my comfort zone and be a light for others who also may be struggling in their life .

  8. Yes, Jo Ann,
    To be truly fruitful & abundant as I join myself to the intimacy of my God!
    Please pray I may?

    Even when I am having one of those days.

  9. ‘Buried beneath the lie of my daily routine…” this really resonated within me. I have been feeling the need to declutter…both in my physical surroundings and in my brain. The cluttered feeling tends to demand my attention, when what I need to do most is make sure my precious early morning hours are filled with His word, my listening heart…and pressing into Him as I reflect on all the grace and goodness He has brought into my life. There is an old Larnelle Harris song called, “I miss my time with you.” And the message is that when we get too buried beneath the rush of daily living we forget to stop and take time with our most precious savior. He misses that time. It makes my heart glad and sad at the same time to realize HE misses that time with me, when I have allowed the stuff of life to crowd out my precious moments with Him.
    Sorry this is so long. Your post got me doing some much needed inner reflection.
    Love you my friend!

    • Okay, you KNOW I’m heading over to YouTube don’t you . . . Larnelle Harris — here I come. 🙂 Love learning and growing together with such beautiful women! Love you so. And I get to see you soon?! Awesome.

  10. I keep coming back to the Message Bible describing Joseph of Arimethea as an “Expectant believer”. Am I? Am I abiding in Him in such a way that I am expectant of His presence, of His promise, made real? Am I phoning it in, or taking the easy skimming way?

    I am learning, slowly, that this walk of faith has so many layers. We talk about going deeper like we would the ocean, assuming there is a bottom. A depth where we stop. I think there is no bottom. The deeper is like going deeper into space – we keep going and going. Closer and closer to Him to be sure, but how can there be limits with a limitless God?

    I rest in my faith, right now I have to. There is no ‘rock’ of house. No rock of ‘family’. No rock of ‘a map’. Just Him. And taking the next step even though I can’t see the one after. (and the planner in me HATES that sometimes, most of the time. But we are learning to trust.).

    That not having a Plan B or Plan C, but going all in for Plan A terrifies and thrills me. I don’t know that my dear husband is on the same page as me but God carries us all. 🙂

    • Sometimes there’s much more wisdom in the comments section of this blog than the main post. Wink. Oh that we continue to go Deeper Still, into the wild grace-filled depths that cannot be measured.

      Praying for your Plan A!!

  11. It’s the dailiness that pulls me away. The sameness that just becomes an end in itself–mine to handle. The days I “think” I can handle because they aren’t that difficult. In the traumatic, hurtful times I know where to turn…and do. My difficulty is in the mundane regular routines. Abide in Him through it all. You nailed it when you ask us to lean in “closer to the One who understands, close enough to feel His very breath.” Through the hard times, certainly, but also through the daily moments. Join our breath with His.
    So needed, Jo Ann. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Julie, I love your heart, your transparency that connects me {and others} with you. Thank you for walking this journey with us.

  12. I can’t get through a day without Him. In the past when I tried I came to understand abiding in self and other people, things, the world will never be enough. My husband and I just had to put our dog down and the only thing holding me together is the abiding in Him. One thing I’ve come to understand is that we will never be the same but we will come out of our grief better, more mature, spiritually refined and braced for the next life circumstance whatever it may be.

    So to answer your question how do you fight your way back to Him. I ask this God this question: Lord, what would you have me do today? #prayer When I am are having a hard time making a decision, I go to the Master!

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