By Barbie Perks —
I am starting to settle in more from my last post, “Reading Life Differently In the Unknown.” Settling in has been a bit like when we were first married – in a new town, not really knowing anyone. For me, I have been waving my husband goodbye early in the morning, knowing I won’t see him again until early evening as his new office is 30 minutes’ drive out of town, depending on the traffic. And then the day looms ahead, and the question of how to fill it.
Back home I used to wish for free time, with no calls or commitments. I was kept busy with some office work, some church work, some volunteer work, some bible study and cell group preparation, a little handwork, some exercise and of course friends, pets, housework and gardening.
This past month I have focussed on getting around Iringa, and discovering where the shops are (they are all over!) and what they sell (each one specialises in a couple of items!) This has been my form of exercise – walking, looking around and taking everything in. The people are really friendly but the language barrier prevents any meaningful conversation happening.
Because I have no calls on my time, I can focus on doing things I would not normally be doing, like doing the washing and ironing on the same day☺; like thinking long and hard on what to cook for supper because that involves getting ingredients, making do with fewer utensils and a different kind of stove. Suddenly care and concern for my husband’s wellbeing has come to the top of the list again and he is revelling in it!
I’ve begun thinking about my relationship with the Lord, and how after so many years of walking with Him, serving Him in many different areas, both in church and out of church, maybe I have begun to take Him for granted. I haven’t focussed attention on Him as I used to do in those early years when I first came to salvation. Bible study slowly became more about preparation for leading others, than for personal insight and gain – although God was gracious and I had many special moments of insight and growth in the process.
In Revelation 2:2-3, Jesus tells the church in Ephesus that He knows all about their deeds, their hard work, and their perseverance, their good theology, their hardships and that they have not grown weary. It’s a great commendation and affirmation to know that Jesus sees all we do for Him and seems to appreciate it.
Yet all is not well, because in verse 4 Jesus drops a bombshell – He has something that He holds against them. He holds something against them!! That comes as a bit of a shock, and I read on to see that He says they have forsaken their first love. They are continuing to do the things they know to do, in faith and in obedience, but it no longer happens out of love. It has become a duty, part of what they do because they are believers. Somewhere along the way, the concentrated devotion has been diluted by the many areas of service they have become involved in. When I personalise this scripture I begin to realise how far I have drifted from that first love!
How do you repair a relationship when you discover someone holds something against you? There are times when you can go for a long time without knowing exactly what is wrong, you just know there is something wrong. And then you find out what it is. After the initial pain of discovery, you acknowledge your part in the problem, ask forgiveness, and begin to live with the awareness that this is a new journey, and hope that maybe it will be a much better, much deeper one than before. If the Holy Spirit gives me ears to hear, then I must listen!!
So I am feeling delighted and excited that I have this opportunity to come back to that personal devotion to Christ, to learn new things about Him and from Him, to look at life with fresh eyes and with a heart that is newly grateful for His grace and love. What are some ways you a reading life differently this summer that has brought you back to a deeper devotion and love to Jesus? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Oh Barbie I know exactly how you feel. God also told me while we were studying Revelation that I had lost my first love. I also have spent so many years preparing to teach the Bible studies, in retrospect see I never had the time to meditate on what I was teaching. Now being a pupil I’m beginning to re-appreciate the Word and what God is saying. But how to find my first love is the question. I have asked God for guidance but the only new door opened is Celtic Spirituality. As you know I wad brought up Presbyterian and my mom’s family were from Scotland so I’m finding what I’ve read about Celtic Spirituality not really foreign it resonates with something inside of me. I have also discovered my notes I got on a retreat I did in Johannesburg at St Benedict’s where the theme was Benedictine Spirituality and mandalas and a maze amongst other experiences. In spite of this new spark I still feel all at sea as to regain my first love.
Am following your story with great interest and delight. Stillness brings more depth in our relationship with God and a better understanding of what He requires of us rather than us running around trying to please Him. We grow closer and find immense joy in simply following Him as we search that first love. Finding peace within and glad to simply meditate upon His word. Seeking Him in all we do trusting, that He will lead us.