Summary: David Brainard is one of those who seemed to have a very special relationship with God that makes the rest of us seem inferior... HOW?
Becoming a Friend of God
"I withdrew to my usual place of retirement, in great tranquility. I knew only to breathe out my desire for a perfect conformity to Him in all things. God was so precious that the world with all its enjoyments seemed infinitely vile. I had no more
desire for the favor of men than for pebbles. "At noon I had the most ardent longings after God which I ever felt in my life.
"In my secret retirement, I could do nothing but tell my dear Lord in a sweet calmness that He knew I desired nothing but Him, nothing but holiness, that He had given me these desires and He only could give the thing desired "I never seemed to be so unhinged from myself, and to be so wholly devoted to God "My heart was swallowed up in God most of the day."
-David Brainerd, eighteenth-century missionary to American Indians
Intimacy with God, the prospect thrills us-and at the same time frustrates us.
How few people we know, or even know of, who experience the kind of closeness with God that our hearts long for. The whole concept of "an intimate relationship with God" may be so foreign to you that it is like Greek.
Even in Scripture only a handful of people seemed to have a special relationship with the Father. The scriptures say Enoch walked with God. Abraham was called a friend of God. The Lord spoke with Moses face to face. Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne. Paul was taken up into the third heaven, and the Apostle John had an incredible vision, which he recorded in the book of Revelation. These are not your "every day with Jesus" testimonies!
When we read the words of saints like Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, D. L. Moody, and the writers of the great hymns we find a spiritual depth that not many of us have experienced ... and in truth, most of us never will experience. Is this special communion with the Lord reserved for a favored few? Is it presumptuous to consider that God, Himself, would be our intimate Friend?
God: The Initiator
Very simply, intimacy is close or confidential friendship. And God, far from making it mysterious or unobtainable, has sought that kind of relationship with us from the beginning: "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Gen. 1 :26).
He revealed Himself to the patriarchs and prophets; He personally led the Israelites in the wilderness by cloud and by fire.
But God's ultimate invitation to fellowship with Him was in sending His Son to pay the price for our sin so that we who believe could be called His children. To seal His presence in us, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us.
God continually invites us to respond to His love and desire for fellowship. He longs to love us as only He can, and He wants us to know Him in all of His fullness.
Nowhere in scripture do we hear His great plea to us as we do in Deuteronomy 6:5 ... "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength". He wants us to be intimate with Him.
I believe that is not so much a command as it is a heart cry ... "Love me."
Though it has nothing to do with need ... it is very much like the cry of a child who feels rejected and unwanted by his parent, but who deep down, more than anything else in this world wants to love his parent and have them return that love. "Please love me."
Why, then, do so few of us experience the kind of love relationship with God that David Brainerd described? What does it take to know Him as an intimate Friend?
I want to help you to deepen your understanding of what friendship with God is like and of how it is developed.
1. Deep Desire
Those saints-past and present-who have enjoyed exceptional closeness with God are first of all those who have deeply longed for it. God promised in Jer. 29:13: "You will ... find me when you seek me with all your heart."
That is not a promise to those half-hearted followers, those who are willing to let God into their lives, but only on their terms ... don't be too needy or too demanding.
David's longing for God was insatiable. Even when he was pursued by enemies, he did not seek deliverance or a change in circumstances; he sought ONLY God. He wrote,
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.-Ps. 63: 1