After 36 years of marriage, Sheila and I have settled into relaxed comfort. In our first days, we'd talk until 2 in the morning, avidly learning about each other. Now we head for bed at different times. In early years, we'd cuddle in bed and discuss our days. Now we read books. Separate ones. In early years we'd eagerly listen to the other's words. Now we finish their sentences. Life is like that, even the spiritual one. We begin with passion and fervor, and settle into an uneasy comfort. We love, we commit, we serve, but the spark is gone. Should it be?
Desperate for you?
In a time long past
In a youth long gone
Ready to jump at just your word
Ready to give--all
Ready to do--anything
Then came jobs—even ministry tied me down
Then came marriage—a connection that killed independence
Then came mortgages—responsibilities that required a job
a good one
Retirement crept closer
life closed in
And outside forces
determine my destiny
And I love you
I can’t refuse that unholy cocktail
of responsibility and comfort and tiredness
Yet you deserve much more from me
I need reminders, regular and intense, that just serving God doesn't fully satisfy God. Jesus began with praise for the service and sacrifice of the first century church in Ephesus, "I know your deeds, your hard work, and your perseverance...you have endured hardship for my name, and have not grown weary." Praise any of us would covet. But he continued, "Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen" (Revelation 3: 2-5a).
I'm guilty. The poem above affirms that. I have served and sacrificed, and still do. But too easily do I drift into an uneasy, maybe unholy, comfort. Not from what I do, but from allowing the emotional, spiritual connection with God to grow stale. My early passion has morphed into moldiness.
I'm working my way back, and the last part of verse 5 later gives the key, "Repent and do the things you did at first."
In a marriage, going back to early days, revisiting the places, telling the stories, doing some of the same things, restores freshness to the relationship. Do the same with God. In your early days, what did you do that provided passion? Do those again. Mechanically if necessary. But I tend to believe you'll see the return of that passionate early love.
Kick Starting the Application
Where are you on the spectrum of walking with Jesus? Still in the early stages? Then take note of what enhances intimacy, and be sure you continue. Try to identify some key behaviors that help. Or, are you further along the road, and you sense that unholy comfort? For you, and I suspect we all have different causes, what has led to that? Think back at how you acted in the early days of fervent love. Start doing them again.
For me, I'm beginning to...well, skip that. This part of the post is about your journey.