I was a big, fat, brat Monday and Tuesday.
I was grouchy, impatient, snappy, and rude. I was full of anxiety and worry, and it seemed to come out in the form of straight ugliness across an array of non related issues.
If I’m honest, I’ve allowed the last couple of weeks to wind me up in a tight knot. It was inevitable something yucky would eventually spill out.
We had something at church Tuesday night, and during worship, I began to take a deep breath and settle down.
As we sang “We Believe” (the one by the Newsboys), I began to feel so incredibly selfish. I am made for Jesus, yet so often I forget this simple truth and live for myself.
I sang the words feeling so convicted, yet having a hard time pinpointing what exactly was causing me to feel this way.
As I drove to work the next morning, I asked God to open my eyes to what specifically I needed to repent of.
Did he ever.
During my Bible study Wednesday, the Lord illuminated my heart to the why I had asked Him about only hours earlier.
I was reading in Jeremiah and intended to read all of chapter 2.
Verse two reminded me of the church of Ephesus in Revelation, the one who forsook their first love.
Just as the Israelites in Jeremiah chapter 2, they were once on fire and passionate about God, intimate with him and fervent. Eager to please.
Revelation also talks about their patient suffering, much like the “barren wilderness” the Israelites trusted God through in the Jeremiah passage.
Sadly, the Israelites completely abandoned the Lord.
But the church of Ephesus was a little different.
I think they probably thought they were fervent as ever.
Because they were going through the motions.
Jesus said they were working hard and patiently enduring. They didn’t tolerate evil and dug into scripture to test false prophets. They even “patiently suffered” for Jesus without quitting.
They sound like they’ve got it all together, right!?
They were going through the motions of obedience.
They were doing what they knew to do, but there was no love behind it.
They placed their eyes on things of God but took their eyes off God himself.
They forgot their first love.
I feel like I’ve been in a recent season of Ephesus. I have been so self-focused and have gone through the motions with God. Things aren’t “bad,” but they’re a little stale.
The last couple of weeks have been hard. Like the Ephesians, I feel like I’ve been exercising patient endurance. My quiet times have been ho-hum and I have focused so much on myself.
My needs, my worries, me, me, me.
I pray to Jesus about it all, but my heart is still more focused on myself, and asking Him to help me, and do something for me.
No praise for Him just being beautiful Jesus.
Not fully letting go of the worry.
When I read Revelation 2:4 it stings.
It hurts my heart to think Jesus would feel this way, but after my actions over the last couple weeks, I can certainly see it.
I don’t want to take my eyes off Him! I don’t want to be so anchored in all these “light and momentary” worries and troubles the Bible says will come our way.
Yet, for the last couple of weeks I’ve allowed them to consume me.
We are going through a trial now. He allowed it, and through the pain and confusion, I see His hands at work through it all.
I say I’m trusting, but maybe I am like church of Ephesus who thought they were, but in the process of all this patient endurance, my affections have been eaten up by the waiting, watching, and worrying.
I’m putting the condition that He “fix” this problem as I think he should so I can finally fully look to Him and love Him without this nuisance ever before me.
I know I can’t place conditions on Him. I know we are called to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength- not when He does what we think He should.
He’s not a genie in a bottle. He’s the Holy of Holies.
I would venture most of us agree we don’t simply I want to go through the motions of life and love. There’s no excitement in that, and our God is an exciting and intimate God that desires our fellowship.
Just like our relationships here on earth, if we’re not working on being intentional and present, they can become stagnant.
I know how I would feel if Will just did the same thing everyday and never made an effort to keep things fresh and interesting, and I know the same can be said for how he’d feel if I did the same.
Similarly, I want to actively seek the Lord. Not focus on myself or just go down the same monotonous prayer requests.
I want to allow the Spirit to fan the flame of romance, and I want to respond to His call. I want to abide in Him so that I will bear fruit.
I decided to write down ways to refresh my daily relationship with Jesus enjoy Him for who He is in specific ways.
1. Praise in the morning
Usually my mornings are spent going over the day ahead or fretting about an upcoming meeting. Instead, I am going to spend the mornings in praise for who God is and nothing else.
2. Pray scripture and promises
I want to claim the promises in the scripture and speak His word back to Him. Less whining, more praying promises.
3. Sing and mean it
If I’m just mindlessly singing the words to a praise song, I am going to turn the radio off. No empty words, just praise.
4. Surrender my worries and daily trust Jesus during this trial
I must daily surrender my worries to Him and trust. This will be the hardest element but worth the effort.
I am so thankful God refocused my affections back on Him and off myself. He sure is faithful to show us when we ask!
May we pursue Him fiercely today simply for who He is, and not what pain He can remove, or what He can do for us.
May we enjoy Him for Him alone, our first love.