Paradigm Shift: Coming Back To My First Love

I got comfortable.

Too comfortable.

And I began thinking this is the life I always dreamed about…

Good marriage and great job.

Beautiful and healthy kids.

Nice neighborhood and decent cars.

Could I ask for more?

I did. I was beginning to think I deserved it all somehow. That God blessed me with all these things because I EARNED THEM…

And I asked for more…

You see, the house I live in became not enough. I started dreaming about getting one of the multi-million dollar homes, in a “rich” neighborhood a few miles away from us…

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“Don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich, and their homes become ever more splendid. For when they die, they will carry nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. In this life they consider themselves fortunate, and the world loudly applauds their success. But they will die like all others before them and never again see the light of day.” Psalm 49:16-19

I dreamt of having a vacation home on a beach, because I love the ocean. And a boat to go with it, so that I could sail with the wind…

Whenever I heard of a jack-pot lottery, I prayed for God to show me the winning numbers in a dream.

Seriously.

Why not, I thought. Lord, I will give you at minimum 10% of the winnings. OK, I’ll make it 50%. Just let me win that lottery! I can do so much for YOUR KINGDOM with all that money!

AND, by the way, I won’t need to work anymore! I can retire and give the remaining life I have to YOU!

But I kept hearing God talking to me.

Not in an audible voice. Not by thunder or anything grandiose.

A small, faint whisper almost drowned out by all the other STUFF in my mind that was all about ME…

“I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.…'” Revelation 2:4-5

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“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” Revelation 19:7

What do you mean, “I left my first love, Lord?” I still love you. I read your Word (when I have the time). I try to go to church on those Sundays when I am off. I pray (every night while falling asleep). I have a ministry.

“You have left your first love. Unless you repent I will remove your lampstand.” All right, Lord. You have my attention. This sounds pretty serious…

Did I really lose my “first love?” What was my “first love?”

I began thinking about my marriage. When my husband and I fell in love, I was flying in the clouds. Butterflies in the stomach upon seeing him. The whole “first love” thing…

However, our love changed. Our love grew deeper every day of our marriage. Before my wedding I thought it’s not possible to love my beloved more. I thought my heart would burst if the love I felt for him would grow even the tiniest bit more.

Looking back, I marvel at how our love grew with each day, as we faced various obstacles TOGETHER.

And it keeps growing deeper as we discover each other more and as we get to KNOW each other more…

Because of my husband’s love for me, my love for him multiplies. I want to honor him not because I am commanded to do so by the Bible, but because I LOVE him. I love him because HE loves me. And the cycle continues…

Why did I lose my “first love” for God? My love for God was burning like a mighty bonfire years ago. Last year it was reduced to glowing coals only seen in the darkest of nights…

I got busy with more “important” things.

Finished nursing school. Vacationed in Hawaii. Got a job. Continued my nursing education. Vacationed in Israel. Bought a house. Welcomed our first baby. Worked some more. Vacationed more. Welcomed our second baby. Vacationed in Maui. Bought a vacation home…

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“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

I neglected my relationship with my Savior…

I FORGOT ABOUT HOW DEEP HIS LOVE FOR ME IS. I forgot about his GRACE. I forgot that He loved me even when I did not love Him. I forgot all about the love I had for Him when He first saved me… I did not nurture my “first love.”

What would happen if I neglected my relationship with my dearly beloved husband? What would happen if I stopped investing time into getting to know him? What if I stopped caring about his likes and dislikes? What if I started talking to another man on the side and sharing my heart with him?

Best case scenario: Repenting and a renewal of my marriage. Worst case: Divorce.

I still “loved” God. I did not deny him. I still wanted to help the poor, to save the orphans, to change the world, (with the lottery winnings). But where did my love for him become “lukewarm?”

Notice that the Ephesus church did not completely stop loving God.

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

Somehow I allowed my faith to turn into religion. Just like the church in Ephesus. I was still doing good things. But were the good deeds a result of my heart overflowing with Christ’s love, or were they performed because I thought I would please him by the good deeds?

Did I lose my “first love” and did the “good deeds” turn into an obligation?

I remembered the intimacy I had with the Lord. The sheer and pure satisfaction of being in close fellowship with him. The “first love” I had for Him BECAUSE He first loved me. Because He saved me…

That was a time when the “first love” I had for my Jesus, made me want to shout out from the rooftops about how he saved me. It was a time when my “first love” awakened only one desire: To live this life FOR HIM. To save the lost. To show Jesus to everyone around me. Because HIS love was so amazing, I wanted the same for everyone around me!

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I DESIRE TO GIVE EVERYTHING HE GAVE ME BACK TO HIM BECAUSE OF HIS LOVE FOR ME.

For too long I have been taught that I get filled with the nature of God to a degree that I love God. When Paul wrote his epistle to Ephesians, he prayed that they would know the love OF Christ, not that they would grow in their love FOR Christ (Ephesians 3:18).

Real love for God and his creation (ALL people) comes FROM God. He is the source. He gives us love. And out of that love flows the love we have for him and for others.

“This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” 1 John 4:10.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13. This is God’s love. This was the “first love” I had when I first met Jesus… The love I had in me when I first met Jesus was a result of a revelation of CHRIST’s love for me…

As I began to understand this, I started to pray for God to bring me back to a place when I had that “first love” and when I had that intimacy with Him. I started to yearn for that “first love.”

I repented for leaving my “first love.”

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Since last year nothing has been the same… I rejoice at what God has done in my heart and my life! I praise Jesus’ name and the love he freely gave to me even while I was cheating on him…

I had religion before, believing that I had to do good deeds to please God. Just like Ephesians. Just like the many churches and believers who are putting themselves back under the law. “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Wear this. Can’t wear that…”

I may have started under grace. But then went to trying to attain the salvation by my own effort…

I went from resting in Jesus and what HE had done for me to striving to do it all on my own…

Are we, like Ephesians and Laodiceans in need of repentance? Do we need to rethink our theology? Are we like the Galatians who have fallen from grace by perverting the Gospel and no longer living by faith? Have me mixed law with grace and become lukewarm like the Laodiceans? Are we complacent?

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:15-21

 

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