Believe it or not it was just a little over two weeks ago that we committed to a week of fasting and prayer; for some reason, it seems like ages ago to me. I think I moved on too quickly…to the next thing. “OK…I’ve done that, what’s next on my list?” …check! Admittedly, the things of God can become nothing more than a spot on our big “to do lists”.
I remember a conversation that I had with my wife many years ago. She was feeling down and disconnected in our relationship, (I know that is hard for you to believe 😉). She attempted many times to encourage me to make our marriage and her a priority. I was busy…making a living…trying to do the right things…serving the church…helping with the kids…fighting temptations…I was doing good, what’s the problem? I had filled my life with the keeping of my “to do” list…to kept me out of trouble.
After many conversations with my lovely wife, she finally used a perfect word picture that connected with my heart. She knew that I LOVED my “to do” lists; I would add things to my list after I had done them, just so I could cross them off. I couldn’t pray or read my Bible until I had made my list. I kept my past lists and looked over them… “my precious”! I know…a sickness. Anyway, she approached me one day and said something like this, “Ray, I appreciate how you take care of the kids, the house and the church. You are so faithful in these things but on your “to do” list of 20 things, I feel like I’m number 21! UGH! It felt like a gut punch. I understood exactly what she was saying. She felt uncared for, unprioritized and unwanted. In some ways I had let all the good things squeeze out my expression of love for my wife. I had forsaken, “my first love.”
In many ways, it is easy to have the same kind of relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are busy for Him, keeping all the “rules” for Him, staying out of trouble for Him! But…all the while IGNORING HIM! There was a church that did this very thing, the Church at Ephesus. Jesus commended them for their work and patient endurance; for their discernment over doctrine; and their ability to endure under hardship! But with all that wonderful praise he had one thing against them…
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first”. Revelation 2:4
Wow… “You have abandoned the love you had at first.” Your ministry, your works, your doctrinal accuracy have become more important than me. You have replaced me with the things that point to me. These sobering words have lingered in my soul as I recount the fact that just a few days ago we fasted and prayed and now it seems so distant and far away. Not fresh and alive. Not heart palpitating. Not warm and fuzzy but distant and “accomplished”.
I mention this as a transparent confession and warning. Where are you in relationship to Christ? Is He on your “to do” list as something to be done? Or does your heart long to be with Him? Do you make Him a priority? Does He transcend, permeate and fill your list of “to do’s”? Listen to what else Jesus said to this church…
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first…”
As the Message, paraphrase so aptly says, “Do you have any idea how far you have fallen? Turn back! Recover your dear early love!” Christ was asking them to change their attitude as well as their affections. They were to continue their service not simply because it was right but because they loved Christ
May we ALL, turn away from the idolatry of prideful works and turn to the lover of our souls. Affectionately… love Him, adore Him, prioritize Him and spend time with Him!