But I have this against you, that you have left that first love. Remember therefore 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
Debbie and I recently celebrated our fortieth anniversary. We decided that we would take the week off and combine a week’s vacation with our fortieth anniversary celebration. In determining what we would do that week, we looked at different places, like Asheville, Charleston, etc. But what felt most right to us both was to go back to where it all began forty-three years ago, at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Ms. So we took off for Mississippi. We started at the top of the state, spending a day in Oxford at Ole Miss (Many of you know I am an avid Ole Miss fan.). Then we took off for Hattiesburg. We resisted the temptation to see family and friends because we felt this week was just for the two of us together. We spent three days in Hattiesburg, visiting the campus, talking to old and new professors, walking on the campus, going through old dorms, and visiting places where we use to hang out together. We had a tremendous time but the highlight of many highlights on this trip was the evening that we started by visiting our favorite seafood restaurant that has all the catfish you can eat and the world’s best hush-puppies. Then we went back to the campus and sat out on a bench in the same area of the campus that we spent much time together before we were married. For three and a half hours (from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.) we walked down memory lane recalling so many things that we remember about our first years together there at William Carey. Most of our reflection was filled with joy and laughter about those great “first days and years” together. There was something surreal about sitting in that same spot forty-years later and recalling where God had taken us in life. There were some tears about some of the trials that God had seen us through. But to be there and to recall the experiences, the emotions, the things that excited us about each other those first days,and especially recalling the unmistakable providential hand of God in the leading the two of us together, was almost like an epiphany. Words cannot describe what a wonderful night God gave us. In fact, as I told Debbie, it was as if God was one step in front of us making this trip something special.
Now, understand, I don’t believe that Debbie and I have had a need to have this major renewal in our marriage by our returning to where it began. We have always prided ourselves on making our communication healthy. But what a joy it was to take this trip back. Personally, I think it is one of the several things that every couple over fifty should do in order to keep the flames burning in their marriage. But ever since that week, my mind has gone back to the verses above that rebuke us for leaving that first love that we had for Jesus. Much like many marriages, that which was once a deep love for Jesus and the experiences that nurtured that love, have now become a distant memory. Sadly, with many Christians an insatiable love for the Savior and a desire to know Him more deeply have been replaced with a Pharisaic piety and prideful mediocrity that decry our claim to faith.
It is a question that every Christian, especially those who claim to have been Christians for several years, should ask. Have I lost the love and the passion that I once had? If so, we should do as our Lord tells us in the verses above. That is, we should “repent and do the deeds we first did.” We should go back to those “first days and first years.”
So how does one answer that question? I mean, what measuring stick should one use? Let me suggest some that I have applied to my life to answer this question. How is your devotional time with Christ? Do you remember the times when you couldn’t wait to just talk to Him and share your heart? Do you remember the times when you couldn’t wait to read the bible so that you could know more about God?
How is your church attendance? Do you remember the times when you couldn’t wait for Sunday to roll around so that you could attend that bible class and then hear the Word of God proclaimed? You couldn’t wait to hear God speak to you through His Word! Has that passion been replaced with a ho-hum attitude that essentially says, “What else is new? I ‘ve heard it all.”
What about memorizing scripture? What about that “promise notebook”? Do you remember when you loved learning new promises and scriptures to memorize? I probably could raise more questions, but you get the point.
Maybe your marriage needs to revisit those emotions, those experiences, those things that first excited you about the other. Maybe you need to revisit how God brought you together and how His fingerprint was clearly on the deepening of your relationship leading to your marriage. But perhaps even more importantly, you need to revisit that first love and the deeds that once accompanied the love you first had for Jesus. Have YOU lost that loving feeling?