You know that passage in Revelation 2 where the Lord sends a special message to the church in Ephesus? He tells them that He has one thing against them–that they have forsaken their first love? I’ve always read that and thought, ‘Yeah, get ’em Lord! Sock it to them! Slackers! What were they thinking walking away from You? They must have really jumped off the deep end and fallen into some awful sin or something!’
Well, as I was reading that passage again the other day, I was quite shocked to learn something very interesting about the church at Ephesus.
Apparently, I had them pegged all wrong.
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” Revelation 2:2-3
They weren’t slackers at all. This church was AWESOME! They were hard workers–working hard for the Lord. They hung in there in when the going got tough and persevered through hard times. They must have really known the truth, because they were able to recognize false prophets. They tried to live righteously and didn’t put up with wickedness. Wow! This church actually seems pretty rock solid to me.
But then there’s the next verses.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…” Revelation 2:4-5
A sober message emerged as I read this passage afresh. I realized that as we can work really hard for the right reasons, hold firm through trials and tribulations, memorize a lot of scripture and know a lot of truth and still miss the whole point.
Having a love relationship with Him.
No doubt the Lord wants us to work hard. He wants us to stand firm and persevere through the trials of life. He wants us to know the truth and live righteous lives. But what He wants from us more than anything else is a relationship.
He wants us spend time with Him.
DOING can never replace BEING.
LOVE is spelled TIME.
In Luke 10, Jesus and some of his disciples stop by the home of Martha and her sister Mary. Martha immediately gets to work making preparations for all the guests. There was a lot of work to be done and she was ON IT. She looks around for her sister Mary only to find her NOT WORKING, but instead sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him. Martha, very perturbed, says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”
“Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
For the past few years I’ve started picking a word of the year. I am terrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions, but picking a single word to focus on throughout the year has actually worked out well for me. The Lord picked my word this year. Honestly, I had another word picked out, but He kept drawing me back to the word “still.” Funny how He does stuff like that! So I guess I’ll go along with His word choice.
My word for 2018 is “still.”
I have a 5 year old daughter named Callie. Her energy level is astounding sometimes. She’s constantly firing on all cylinders and goes 90 miles an hour. She is truly like the Energizer Bunny. I am constantly telling her to “calm down” and “be still.” It’s very frustrating when I’m trying to talk to her and spend time with her and there she is bouncing around all over the place.
Then I feel the Lord speak to my heart, “Rachel, you’re just like her!”
He’s right. I am. I’m such a Martha. I go so strong, so hard and so fast, always working on something, doing something, going somewhere. I’m so busy! I go and go and go until I finally crash into the bed at night. I tell myself there’s a lot of work to be done and someone has to do it. I have a family, a job–lots of responsibilities. Like that church in Ephesus, I’m trying to work hard for the right reasons.
But I’m afraid that in the midst of doing good things, I’ve missed the Best Thing.
I’ve forsaken Him–My First Love!
So this year I am going to try to work on taking time to get away and “still” my heart and mind before Him.
I know this:
There is nothing more important than spending time with Him. Anything of any worth in my life will only flow out of the alone time I spend in His presence.
Being still is a huge struggle for me and He’s constantly telling my “Martha” heart that I am worried and upset about many things, but only a few are needed—indeed only one—being “still” before Him and sitting at His feet.
I have a lot to learn in 2018 from my First Love.