If we ignore God’s voice, we might lose our ability to hear Him. That’s a dark, frightening, and dangerous place to be, which is why Jesus said, in essence, “Be careful how you hear.”

Quote from post with image of a woman on a dusty road.

And while, in context, He was speaking of those who would ultimately accept or reject His truth, this principle applies to all of us: We can’t selectively listen and expect a close relationship with Christ.

I’ve experienced the soul-reaching ache, almost numbness, that comes from consistently telling God no. From downplaying, discounting, and outright ignoring His nudges. He was persistent for about a year, speaking to me in numerous ways—through Scripture, statements made by others, a prick in my heart when certain song lyrics played. But my fears and insecurities screamed louder. I was so focused on all I thought I might lose, I couldn’t fathom all, through obedience, I might gain.

And so, for a time, I robbed myself of the greatest gift Christ died to give me—intimacy with Him. During that time, I continued to carry out all the appropriate religious acts. I read my Bible each morning. Went to church every Sunday. Prayed before meals and taught our daughter the truths of Scripture.

Externally, I presented like a woman of strong faith, but internally, my soul withered.

With longing, I reflected on moments when God had felt specifically close and His voice had resonated particularly clearly, and I became alarmed. But I never made the connection between the emptiness I felt and my disobedience nearly a year prior.

Soon, this spiritual starvation filled me with desperation. I needed to feel God’s presence. I began crying out for His nearness, for the soul-deep connection we’d once shared.

But God remained silent. Prayer after prayer, Bible passage after Bible passage, I heard nothing.

Until one afternoon, in the middle of a run, I mentally yelled, “God, what do You want me to do? Whatever it is, just tell me, and I’ll do it.”

His swift yet clear whisper in the depths of my soul arrested my thoughts: “I already told you.” He didn’t need to say more, for I knew. With the clarity that can only come from the Holy Spirit, I knew. In my disobedience—that I had convinced myself wasn’t truly disobedience—I’d driven God away. While I’d remained His child, firmly in His eternal grip, in steadily ignoring my Savior’s promptings, my ears had nearly become too dull to hear.

In that moment, I had a choice to make, one I could no longer put off or justify away. Would I “pay attention to what [I heard]” (Mark 4:24, NLT)?

Mark 4:24 with image of a woman near the ocean.

That was a defining, line-in-the-sand moment for me, one that dramatically changed my life.

Sadly, I’ve seen others turn the other way. One person in particular comes to mind. I’ve personally witnessed numerous miraculous ways God has spoken to her, drawn her, and invited her to experience His abundant life. I’ve even seen her take tentative steps in that direction, until her land-in-the-sand moment came, that instance where she had to decide whose will she would follow, hers or God’s. Unfortunately, she chose her dreams over those God had hand-crafted for her, with heartbreaking results: isolation. Numerous relationships lost. Increased emotional and spiritual darkness.

The inability to hear God.

I pray one morning God will awaken her soul, as He did with mine, so that she will begin to take heed of what she hears so that she can experience the filled-to-overflowing life Christ promised.

That’s His invitation to us all. Where are you in your listening journey? Are you tempted to silence God’s voice in a particular area? And most importantly, is whatever is hindering your obedience worth forfeiting intimacy with Christ?  

For those following the chronological reading plan through the New Testament …

Week 19 of the Bible reading plan.

woman looking toward a cloudy sky and text pulled from the post

Our relationship with Christ begins and is sustained through surrender. With every crisis and uncertainty, as we close our eyes and, with boldness, relinquish our grip, we land firm and secure in our Savior’s hands. It’s then that we realize He truly is loving, faithful, all-powerful, attentive, and true.

For most of my life, I held a very distorted view of God. I knew intellectually that He was loving and kind. At least, that was the Sunday school answer I would have given, if asked. But my actions, most specifically my fears, demonstrated my true beliefs—beliefs hidden so deep, my conscious mind wasn’t even aware they were there. Through a series of events, God allowed my world to completely unravel. At least, that was what it felt like. In reality, He was unraveling lies and fears that were never meant to be part of my world so that I could truly come alive—in Him.

This all began when my husband quit his job—twice, actually, in under a year—and moved our family, quite literally, across the country. Through what became a three-year upheaval period, God allowed all my fears and insecurities to rise to the surface, uncovering the lies attached to them. In this, I came to realize, though I claimed God was my provider, sustainer, protector, guide, and friend, my continual fight for control proved I believed otherwise. In many ways, I knew of God, but I didn’t truly know God, not at the deep, peace-sustaining level.

If I had, I would have understood I had no cause for alarm and no reason to self-protect or fight for control. As I surrendered, through gritted teeth at first, I came to understand just how true all those truths Scripture revealed truly were. That terrifying, mind-shifting experience resulted in an intimacy with Christ I hadn’t even thought to pursue prior, and a much deeper understanding of who He is.

I’m learning to say, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider quote on knowing Christ and a picture of a candle.everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord …” (Phil. 3:7-8, NIV).

Those words in Philippians were written by an ancient church planter named Paul who truly had forsaken all things in order to know Christ. Prior to his conversation, he’d known of God but he didn’t come to truly know Him, personally and intimately, until He surrendered. And through his continual surrender, his intimacy with Christ grew to a level I suspect few of us will experience, because few of us will ever truly understand what it means to say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

As I said, our relationship begins and is sustained—is deepened and fueled—I through surrender. As we rely on Him—His power, protection, strength, and provision—our understanding moves from mere intellectual assent to a deep and abiding knowledge that forms within a strong, unshakable foundation.

“This is eternal life,” Christ said, while praying to the Father, “that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, NIV). The word our Bibles translate as know, ginóskó in the original Greek, points to a deep intimacy acquired through experience. But even this word lacks some of the depth revealed through its Hebrew counterpart, yada. This is the same word Scripture uses to describe the union Adam and Eve experienced through intercourse. Genesis 4:1 says, “now the man knew his wife Eve ..” (NRSV).

Our culture has turned sex into something selfish and ugly, but God designed this most intimate of acts to, in some mysterious way, unite two individuals into one. It’s a complete unveiling of oneself, a living “naked but not afraid.” To know one another fully, without shame or fear.

This is the level of intimacy Christ longs for with us, to usher us into a relationship so fulfilling, we, like Paul, would consider all else rubbish for the sake of knowing, truly knowing, Him.

We reach that place of ever-increasing intimacy through surrender.

Let’s talk about this! How does surrender lead to a deeper intimacy with Christ? When have you found this to be true? If surrender deepens our knowledge of Him, how can lack of surrender hinder this?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you go, I have fun news. Wholly Loved Ministries has released their next Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health! You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

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