Intimacy From the Depths
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David and Meg RobbinsAs 17-year veterans of Cru, David and Meg Robbins have served in a variety of capacities, beginning as ﬁeld staff at their Alma Mater, the University of Mississippi. In 2003, they moved to Pisa, Italy, to serve as overseas team leaders for Cru. It was during that time they fell in love with ﬁnding ways to relate and communicate with a secular, pluralistic culture. They trained to serve overseas long-term until God surprisingly led them back to the U.S.
Developing deeper love in marriage doesn’t just happen on its own, but David and Meg Robbins encourage us that it is possible!
Intimacy From the Depths
Meg: We’ve probably spent more hours under this roof together than we have probably together at home, maybe even since our honeymoon or our first year of marriage, just because there’s a pandemic. I mean, we’ve just been together a lot. But what we realized is that, probably sometime midsummer, we both kind of realized: “All this togetherness does not equal oneness. Hours upon hours together does not mean we’re connecting deeply.”
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: We’re back on the boat in the Caribbean.
Ann: Yes, we are—
Dave: Well, sort of.
Dave: It’s the Love Like You Mean It® virtual cruise. We get to listen to a message from our president, David Robbins, and his wife, Meg, which was given on—again, it was a virtual cruise—we didn’t get to go out on a boat because of COVID, but we got to sit in our homes. Thousands of couples did this; it actually ended up being a great cruise.
Ann: Yes, it was really fun.
Dave: Yes, it was really fun; we had messages that were given virtually.
By the way, we are going on a boat next year, 2022. February 6th-13th we will be on the water; we want you to join us. If you sign up now, before June 28th, you get a great deal. I would say, “Sign up immediately; that thing will sell out.”
Ann: Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and you’ll be able to see some of the promotions we have going on.
Dave: Yes, it’s pretty good stuff.
Today, we get to listen to David and Meg talk about—
Ann: —going deeper.
Dave: It really applies to the year we’ve gone through.
Ann: You would think that being under one roof, and probably spending more time together than most have us have spent together as a couple, we would just have the best marriages right now. But they talk about how it can be really hard to go really deep intimately and be fully known in our own homes.
Dave: Yes; so here’s David and Meg.
[Previous Love Like You Mean It Message]
David: Welcome to our home! [Laughter] We so wish we were together in person, sailing the seas; but if we can’t, then we might as well come a little closer. Come to the most intimate place of the Robbins, and that is our home. We are so thankful to be with you and get to share tonight with you.
Meg: I think, when we think about this last year, we’ve probably spent more hours under this roof together than we have probably together at home, maybe even since our honeymoon or our first year of marriage, just because of the pandemic. We’ve just been together a lot. But what we’ve realized is that, probably sometime midsummer I think, we both kind of realized: “All this togetherness does not equal oneness.”
Honestly, I think if anything, when we got really honest about how we’re doing midsummer, it was like, “Okay, after several months of this, we’re really not connected; we’re kind of drifting. We’re kind of emotionally on two totally separate islands. What does it look like to dig in, and invite you in, and experience that emotional connectedness that we long for and that we know we typically love?”
Hours together in the same room, especially with our kids around all the time, oneness doesn’t just happen—we talk about that a lot—you have to fight for it.
David: Yes, you have to pursue it. There was a moment, where we were really getting to that place and going, “This isn’t okay; we don’t want to settle for this. This pandemic is continuing, and we have to address this.”
We were like, “It’s the onion again,” [Laughter] which means nothing to you, probably. But for us, we remember joining staff and going through a seminary class; this analogy of this onion the seminary professor told was like: “That is growing closer to God and growing closer to one another.” It’s such a beautiful analogy.
You know, there are three different types of loves. There’s phileo love, which is brotherly love or that emotional-connection love; there’s eros love, which is passionate; and then there’s agape love, which is unconditional love—Jesus-type love—comes from above/unable to do on our own.
If our lives are like an onion, we get through layers in each other’s lives, where we’re going through the layers of the onion in [each other’s] lives. There’s that easy connection and phileo, and then there’s the eros and the passion, and then you hit a layer—you hit those layers, that you go, “Oh, the way we’re operating isn’t going to get us through this layer,”—this layer requires agape, supernatural, Jesus-inspired love in order to love through.
We hit these different layers in both of our lives; and we’re like, “Okay, this is the onion. This is a moment where it’s going to require us to re-surrender to the Lord and really trust Him again with agape-type love.” The beautiful thing that we keep finding that we are getting those first fruits of—again, is that when you go through those layers that require agape love—on the other side of it is deeper emotional connection and phileo love, deeper eros-type of love.
Meg: Yes; because really, we long for that deep connection. We long for it from the Lord, and we long for it with each other, just a soul-level connection that we cannot have without the Lord, really.
One of my favorite quotes on this is Tim Keller; he says this: “To be loved but not known is comforting, but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
We need the courage to go deeper into the unknown parts of our lives. Greater intimacy in marriage and greater intimacy with the Lord go hand in hand, and it takes courage to peel back the layers and let someone in, and also love into those layers/love through those layers, just like you were talking about with the onion.
Dave: We want to talk about three ways that we can actually pursue that; [so] that when we hit those layers in our lives—which I’m sure you’ve hit some during this past year—“How do we pursue these deeper types of intimacy with the Lord and with one another?”
The first one is/the first pathway would be: “Embrace being fully loved and fully known by God in deeper ways. It is entering the deeper parts of your own story with the Lord. Psalm 139 is one of those [Psalms] where David goes on and on about the security we have and us being fully known by the Lord: He hems us in behind and before; He knows the deepest parts of our lives; we were created in our mother’s womb/He knits us in that place; His thoughts are too vast for us. As he reflects on all those things, he gets to the end of that Psalm, and then in verse 23 of Psalm 139, he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any grievous way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Out of that security of knowing—“God, You know everything already. You know fully everything about Meg; You know fully everything about me,”—out of that place of You knowing all of that—“Okay, Lord, in that security, knowing You love me, search me. I offer myself up to You anew. Whatever’s happening in my life, Lord, I want to offer myself up to You, surrender, and go into those deeper places with You, so You can lead me in the way everlasting.”
We’ve been reading this year, really our favorite book of 2020, which is Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund. He quotes lots of Puritans throughout the book. He quotes John Bunyan, and John Bunyan’s really talking about how we tend to deflect Christ’s assurances. He says we often say:
“No, wait, God; You don’t understand. I’ve really messed up in all kinds of ways.” And Christ responds, “I know.”
“But You know most of it, sure, certainly more than others see; but there’s perversity down inside of me that is hidden from everyone.” And Christ says, “I know it all.”
We respond, “Well, the thing is, it isn’t just my past; it’s my present, too.” And Christ says, “I understand.”
“But I don’t know if I can break free of all this anytime soon.” And Jesus responds, “That’s the only kind of person I’m here to help.”
“The burden is heavy, and heavier all the time”; and Jesus responds, “Then let Me carry it.”
“It’s too much for me!” And Christ responds, “Not for Me.”
“You don’t get it. My offenses aren’t directed towards others; they’re against You.” “Then I’m the only One most suited to forgive you.”
“But the more of the ugliness in me You discover, the sooner You’re going to get fed up with me.” And Christ responds, “Whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”
Bunyan concludes: “This promise was provided to answer all objections, and it does answer them.”
Meg: Yes, it’s a rock-solid promise; this is the gospel. I mean, I love that; it’s so beautiful. It reminds me of Romans 8:38: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That is a ginormous promise—that nothing: no sin in my own heart, no disappointment, no fears, no doubts/and all those things just listed—nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
That leads to our second point, that says: “If we’re going to pursue deeper and deeper layers of intimacy with one another, it first starts with, ‘How much do I let in my spouse?’” We all kind of have those decisions to make of: “…to what extent?” I mean, we delight in being fully known and fully loved—we say with our mouth—but as life goes on, as we get in ruts, as something surprises us—like doubts that may surface in our lives—do we keep going in and being fully known with our spouse and experience being fully loved in the ways that Christ empowers us to be in those deeper places?
The second point is simple; but yet, it’s true: “We have to invite our spouse into those fully known and fully loved layers.” God already fully knows them and loves them, and we invite our spouses into those places to disclose the deeper, unknown places that are becoming known; so that we can grow together and so that intimacy continues to cultivate.
Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Implied in a marriage, we are wired to bear with one another in love/in agape love in the hard layers in our lives. We are made to have unity in the Spirit—the same Spirit that’s in Meg; the same Spirit that’s in me—we are wired in order to have intimacy with the same Spirit so that there would be a bond of peace.
Peace doesn’t mean there’s not tumultuous things happening in our lives; but there is the peace of having God’s presence with us and experiencing that, in that, together.
Meg: Yes; honestly, our oneness grows as we invite the other person in even more. I think/you know, it’s kind of coming to terms with the obvious: that David cannot read my mind. When I was going through that, and wrestling with those things, he can’t read my mind and he can’t read my heart; the Lord certainly can, but he can’t. So our oneness—I think, even this summer, reflecting back to how we were drifting apart a little bit—it’s because even though/I think, because were together all the time, I started to assume: “Well, he should know that I’m irritated by that,” or “He should know that I wanted to do this.”
I will never forget, when were getting married, my older brother, who was already married at the time, he was like, “My one piece of advice is: if you want David to do something, you need to tell him. If you’re sitting there, and you just cooked dinner; and you would like for him to do the dishes—and he says, ‘Hey, do you want me to do the dishes?’—don’t say, ‘No!’/say, ‘Yes,’—because he doesn’t know what you want him to say.” It was kind of revolutionary. It seems so simple, but it’s so true. I think, sometimes, we assume that he’s going to know this about me—because we’re here; we’re together; we’re so close; and we are one—but yet, that doesn’t equal knowing everything without me saying it.
I think it’s a choice. Just like I have to say, if I want him to do the dishes—I have to tell him if I’m sad, or I’m hurting, or I’m feeling lonely or disappointed, or joyful and excited about something—it’s learning to invite him in by taking that risk, and taking the walls of my heart down, and letting him see what’s really going on.
David: We have to choose to let our spouse in—which is so simple, and it’s 101 stuff—but as life takes its course, which this year certainly life has taken its course, grace allows us to invite our spouse in without having shame, and go into those places, and invite them into those places.
Meg: So true. I was just thinking about how the first point—of being fully known and fully loved by the Lord—really helps us believe and be rooted in that grace that allows us to invite our spouse in.
The third thing is that we would pursue our spouse to fully know them and lavish them with love. I think the second one is more about inviting our spouse in, and the third one is taking active steps to pursue the heart of your spouse. It’s entering into the deeper spaces of your spouse’s heart and life and pursuing into those places. Because of what Christ has done, and because of His great lavish love for us, this is possible.
I love/there are so many verses on God’s love for us and how He calls us to love one another, but I’m going to quickly read through a few:
John 13:34 says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,” with that lavish love.
John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:17: “These things I command you so that you will love one another.”
1 John 4:11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
The last verse, 1 John 3:11: “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
The greatest thing about this is that—not only does Jesus model so perfectly for us and we can experience that oneness with Him—but He also empowers us to do it. He doesn’t just tell us to love and hope that we’re going to do it on our own—because I don’t know about you, but I fail miserably when I’m trying to love David on my own, and show him all the things that he needs and he’s wired to have—but the Lord gives us the Holy Spirit. Through Him, we can love in a way that frees us up to be kind when we’re not able to on our own, to show kindness, and love, and peace, and all of those things. That, to me, is just/I am so grateful; and it’s the only way that I think we can experience oneness the way that God designs us to.
David: Yes, God designs us to love one another like He loved us. That’s only possible by us, not being self-reliant to try harder, but us surrendering and getting on our knees and going, “God, I need Your help to be able to love like You love and pursue Meg, being fully known and fully loved, and experiencing that from me.” He’s the only One that truly fully knows every part of Meg and fully loves her with perfect love; but I get to pursue her, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and give her glimpses of God’s love in a tangible way, us together, going into those places.
But often, it seems like we want the fruit of companionship without the demands of genuine intimacy, which takes us back to the onion and where we started. We get to those layers; we go, “Oh, man, this is hard.” Sometimes, we don’t even realize we’re at that hard level and we’re just kind of bumping up against it; but when we realize it, like we did this past summer, we’re like: “Okay, this takes agape love layers. This takes dependence upon His Spirit to be able to enter in together.”
This takes risk; this takes courage and some steps of faith to know how we’re loved:
First point: to be able to open ourselves up, again, and know, “Okay, God, You fully love me and know me. I invite You into the deeper places. Help me go deeper through this layer.”
Secondly: to be able to invite someone else in.
And then thirdly: to be able to pursue being fully known and fully loved.
That’s what we get to do: know ourselves more, invite our spouse in, and then pursue our spouse ourselves, with a Holy Spirit divine type of power and love.
I just would say, as we begin to close, remember this and remember the power of the analogy of the onion. The great thing is, as you go through those agape layers, better eros is on the other side; because that deep emotional and spiritual connection happens. Man, you begin to unlock something and deeper levels of eros intimacy that comes along with deeper levels of spiritual and emotional connection.
Meg: It’s true; very true.
One last thing that has been so helpful for us through the years is to set ourselves up like the letter “M.” If I’m to—let’s say this is me, and this is this side of the “M” [left side of the “V”—this is God right here [the side of the “M”], and He is the anchor on both sides of our marriage—we’re kind of like the “V” in the middle. God is over here [on the left], and I’m leaning on Him—He is where I am getting all of my stability; I’m rooted and grounded in Him—and David is, too, over there [right side of the “V”]; but we’re still one.
This is one letter here, and we’re deeply connected; we’re together. Oneness is being together—but it’s being rooted in the Lord first and continuing to grow in both of those places—because ultimately, God is the One who knows us fully; He’s the only One who can ever know us in that complete full way and love us perfectly. But marriage allows us to enter in and love each other in a beautiful, amazing way.
We would just say, in closing, to remember that God loves us in a way that we can’t love each other; and yet, He calls us to love in the power that He gives us to love deeper than we can imagine.
Dave: You’ve been listening to David and Meg Robbins, our president of FamilyLife Today, on the Love Like You Mean It virtual cruise. Boy, they got into it. If anything good has happened in the last year/this COVID year—where many of us did what we just did, watching/[listening to] this message; we’re sitting at our homes, where we’ve sort of been locked down—we had a chance to go deeper in our relationship or pull away. Their challenge was: “Let God grow you deeper.”
Ann: I love that; because they talked about going deeper in our heart, in our spouse’s heart, and Jesus’ heart as well. All three of those are really important. And I just love David and Meg. I mean, they’re just fun to listen to; they’re great to be around; and they’re great leaders.
So let me ask you: “As you’ve listened to this, what could our call to action be? What do you think?”
Dave: The first thing I think of is something we teach at the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember®, and that’s level-five communication; that’s what they were talking about. Going deeper means I’m going to go down to level five, which means I’m going to share my heart. Level three or level two is—I’m sort of superficial—and you can be that way with some people in your life. But level five in a marriage—
Ann: It’s not every minute of the day.
Dave: No, but it does mean that I’m going to reveal—my heart, my struggles, my doubts, my weakness—with the most important person in my life, which is my spouse.
Dave: It’s scary to go there! That’s what they were talking about—that’s deep, and it’s easier to live in superficial-land—but man, if there’s one person you want to go deep with, it’s your spouse and your King/your Lord. The benefits of going there, as scary as it is, are intimacy—not only with God—but with your spouse; so it’s worth it.
I would challenge, especially the men—I think women go there easier; maybe I’m wrong, but I know you do—so I would challenge the men: “Share something real; share something scary with your spouse today, and ask God to meet you and take you deeper.”
Ann: It doesn’t have to be necessarily about your marriage, but what you’re facing in life and what you’re feeling in life. That’s a good challenge; thanks.
Bob: I can imagine that, for some people, the thought of sharing something that’s been hidden/something that’s been kept under the covers, that can feel scary and threatening. You wonder if you’re safe. I think the question for you is: “What can I do to help my marriage become the kind of safe place, where we can be transparent?—where we can be what Genesis 2 talks about, naked and unashamed with each other.”
If you’d like to hear the complete message from David and Meg Robbins, called “Intimacy from the Depths,” you can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. The message is available for download there. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
David and Meg presented this message as a breakout session on FamilyLife’s 2021 Love Like You Mean It virtual marriage cruise. The good news is the cruise in 2022 will not be virtual! It will be in real life, IRL. We’re going to be face to face with one another on the cruise, and we’d love to have you join us.
Every year that we’ve done the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, it has been a sellout; and this year’s cruise is starting to sell out as well. We have a limited number of cabins still available. This is a great week for you to reserve your cabin, because we have a Back to Cruising special that we’ve put together for FamilyLife Today listeners. It ends on Monday; you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to reserve your cabin on the cruise. If you need more information, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the link you find there. Join us Valentine’s week of 2022: the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. Again, call 1-800-358-6329 to sign up; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to think about this, but God is the One who invented intimacy in marriage; He invented sex. Tomorrow, we’re going to hear from
Dr. Juli Slattery about God’s good gift to every couple and how we can be a part of that. I hope you can join us for that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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