“But you walked away from your first love – why? What’s going on with you, anyway?” Revelation 2:4 (The Message)
Mike Yaconelli once observed, “It doesn’t take much to make most of us realize that we have become too serious, too tense, too stressful. The result is that we have forgotten how to live life…What happened to the gleam in our eye? What happened to that joyful, crazy, spontaneous, fun-loving spirit we once had? The childlikeness in all of us gets snuffed out over the years…the sign that Jesus is in our hearts, the evidence of the truth of the Gospel is that we still have a light on in our souls.”
How can someone walk away from their first love, lose that gleam in their eye? Could I walk away from my wife of 28 years? By all accounts, my love for her is not same as that August day in 1981 when she walked down the aisle at our wedding. Since then we have had two sons, careers, personal successes and tragedies and a growing walk with the Lord. If nothing else, today my love for her is stronger and more intimate than in those precious and heady days as newlyweds.
Yet as I claim a stronger relationship with the Lord during this time, I honestly know that I have been living in Ephesus when it comes to my walk with God. Just as human relationships have plateaus, I must confess that I have not sought out the depth of God, pursuing the love and fellowship I knew in my early days as a believer. This is what is going on: I have walked away from my first love and forgotten how to live life!
Regaining the life I seek with Him, returning to a childlikeness, requires intimacy. I know full well the intimacy I seek with Him will benefit from improved spiritual disciplines (such as more time in His Word and in prayer). But I cannot rely on these activities alone, otherwise I have fallen under the Law and am practicing faith by works. Relationships grow out of intention and communication as well as in following through with responsibilities. Any life with Him begins and ends with making God the priority, not just one of many pressing concerns in my everyday living.
Living this life means adopting a willingness to live His life, not my own. Returning to my first love means saying “no” to all the competing interests and consistently putting the needs of my Beloved before my own. My marriage is no different and it suffers when attention and intention give way to selfish living. When my priorities are restored, the joy returns to the relationship.
I find hope and direction in Yaconelli’s concluding thought: “Christians are not just people who live godly lives; we are people who know how to live period. Christians are not just examples of moral purity, we are also people filled with a bold mischievousness. Christians not only know how to practice piety, we also know how to party. I believe it’s time for the party to begin.”
With the reminder of from Ephesus and hopefully a gleam in my eye, I know it is party time!