Invitation to Rest

Invitation to Rest

Living Life from the Inside Out

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4 Steps to Intimacy with Jesus

There is a big difference between knowing about God and knowing God. We can spend a lot of time in Bible Study, in prayer, and in listening to preaching and teaching and learn all kinds of wonderful truths about God and yet not really know God personally. Knowing God personally involves reading God’s word, praying, and taking in teaching and preaching but it starts from a place of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Our study, prayer, and learning become personal encounters with God.

This is not always easy. Plus adding on the stresses and strains of life and all of the distractions that come our way, we can easily miss a deep and meaningful relationship that God so desires with us. So how can we start? Let’s take a look at a familiar passage in the Bible about the blind beggar Bartimaeus to see four steps we can take to help develop our relationship with Jesus more fully.

1.    Assess Your Situation

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.  Mark 10:46

Bartimaeus was in a hopeless situation.  He had no way to support himself so he was left to beg by the city gate each day. Some commentators speculate his family would have dropped him at the gate in the morning and picked him up in the evening. What long and dreary days those must have been. He must have felt stuck in his life with no way out.

We can feel somewhat like Bartimaeus in whatever situation we find ourselves. We can feel lost, overwhelmed and maybe even hopeless at times. It is good at these times to assess our situation. Socrates famously said “an unexamined life is not worth living”.

Too often, we tend to obsess rather than assess. It just seems to be part of our broken human nature to ruminate on what is going wrong as if the more we think about it somehow our circumstance will change. It can be a healthy practice to  assess our situation from time to time to see where we are, what we are going through, and where is God in our story? Without a healthy assessment, we can become stuck feeling as though there no way for things to get better.

As we assess our situation, we do this in the presence of God. God can help us look at our lives from a different perspective. One excellent assessment practice is the Prayer of Examen. Click this link to learn more about that.

2.    Identify Your Desires and Longings

47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Mark 10:47-48

Notice from this verse, Jesus is near. All of a sudden, Bartimaeus can have a different assessment of his situation! He has heard about Jesus, the miracles He has performed.  He no doubt has heard people talk about the Messiah and Bartimaeus more than likely is familiar with messianic prophesies of the blind receiving their sight.

Scripture says Bartimaeus cries out! Why does he do this? There is a deep desire that is coming from the core of his being that he wants desperately to be heard. The hope of Jesus being near gives him the courage and strength to go beyond his circumstances and dare to dream that life could be better.

Just like Bartimaeus, we all have desires and longings.  These longings and desires often live deeply submerged behind our circumstances and are rarely given a chance to be noticed. One of the things I noticed a lot over the years in counseling people is underneath the presenting problem someone initially came with, was a deeper longing of the heart and soul. Longings such as:

  • Am I worthy of love?
  • Will somebody be there for me?
  • Am I ok?
  • Is this a safe place?

Unfortunately, we haven’t done a great job at times understanding longings and desires in our church experience.  We tend to underplay desires and unhealthy emotions. Ruth Haley Barton puts it this way: “Life in and around the Christian community does little to help us attend to our longings, to believe that deep within there is something essential that needs to be listened to, or to offer much hope that our deepest longings could take us somewhere good.” 

Notice what else goes on while Bartimaeus cries out, others tell him: “Shut Up! Your cries are a bother to the Teacher. He has no time for you!” Have there been times when you have wanted to share the deep desires of your heart and been told in one way or another to be silent, that your desires don’t matter or they are not important. How often does the enemy lie to us about the longings of our heart and what Jesus thinks of them.

Despite the pushback, Bartimaeus persists in crying out to Jesus. What a great example and encouragement for us. Rather than succumb to the negative voices, we boldly continue to cry out from our hearts to Jesus from a place of our deepest longings and desires.

What are you longing for? What is it that you want to cry out to Jesus?

3.    Take Your Desires and Longings to Jesus

49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”  Mark 10:49-51

Jesus stops what He is doing and calls to him.  Matthew says that Jesus looked on Him with compassion.  Then Jesus asks the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Can you imagine being Bartimaeus in that moment? Jesus, the Messiah, takes notice of him, calls out to him, and asks him what he needs. Bartimaeus could have wimped out.  He could have taken the easy way, maybe asking for a large donation, or encouraging words, but that wouldn’t have been what he really longed for.

So Bartimaeus names his deepest longing. He is asking more than just physical healing, he is asking for a life restored, a life the way it was meant to be lived.

“Naming our desire in the presence of Christ is a catalytic element of the spiritual life.  It leads to the intimacy we seek”.    Ruth Haley Barton

 Naming our desire is more than just discussing how we feel about our circumstance, it is daring to share what is deeply important to us.

Jesus asks us the same question: “What do you want me to do for you?”. Do you hear Him calling to you? Can you feel Jesus’ compassion for you? Be honest and talk to Jesus about all that is on your heart.  

4.    Responding to Encounter with Jesus

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.   Mark 10:52

When we encounter Jesus, there is always a response that comes. It may simply be a response of worship. Luke says Bartimaeus glorified Jesus and the crowd gave God praise. What can also happen in these moments is a deeper sense of intimacy and connection we experience with Jesus and we are moved to draw closer to Him.  Bartimaeus could have gone on with His life. Jesus told him to go his way. But Bartimaeus follows Jesus. His life has been changed and he follows Jesus and His life-giving ways.

The same can be for us.  As we assess our circumstances, identify our longings and desires and pour out our hearts to Jesus, we experience the love and mercy of God in a life changing way and we are moved to walk more deeply and regularly with Him

When our response has been played out in all of its fury, angst, or exuberance, we come to a place of rest in God. Here there are no expectations, demands, no need to know, no desire but to be in the Divine Presence, receptive to what God desires to do with us.    MARJORIE THOMPSON, SOULFEAST


Here is something to try.  Find a place where you can experience some quiet.  Take some slow deep breaths, maybe whispering a breath prayer, something like “Lord Jesus(as you breath in)”… have mercy on me (as you breath out).  Take a few moments and enjoy being in God’s presence.  Then read through one of the accounts of Bartimaeus and sit with the story.  Imagine you are the one who cries out to Jesus because you have something you want to bring to Him. What is it you want to say?

Imagine Jesus turning to you, He looks compassionately into your eyes and asks you the question; “What do you want me to do for you?” It’s ok if it takes you some time to respond to the question.  This is a question worthy of reflection. Think about what you most desire and long for.

Think about your life and what you are going through. Sit with this story of Bartimaeus. Take time to get in touch with your deepest longings. When you are ready, share with Jesus what you want to share with Him and then wait for Him to respond. 

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