A Health Scare
A few months ago, at the end of a long week, I briefly experienced some very unique health-related issues that immediately got my attention. I forgot the names of multiple people I’ve known for years (though I was looking right at them), and my vision was impaired for a short time. Fortunately, those troubling symptoms subsided rather quickly, but they were followed by a low-grade headache and major fatigue that lasted for a week. All of this woke me up to the fact that I had not been feeling quite right for some time. I’d been blind to the most troubling symptom of all, a lack of passion for serving Jesus.
I believe the Father graciously allowed me to go through this small health scare in order to get my attention. To be clear, He was not punishing me, but allowing me to experience the natural consequences of my disobedience. As I was reflecting on this incident recently, and asking the Holy Spirit to help me get to the bottom of the cause, He gently reminded me of Jesus’ words to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2.
“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” (Revelation 2:2-4).
“You’ve left your first love.”
At our church’s Sunday gathering as one of our elders was preaching, the Holy Spirit convicted me with those words: “You’ve left your first love.” I was immediately cut to the heart. I knew it was true. I was deeply convicted by how far I’d allowed myself to slip, by how numb I’d been to the Holy Spirit’s ongoing promptings in my life.
The bottom line was that I’d lost my passion for serving Jesus because I had lost my passion for Jesus Himself. As I turned back the pages of my life over the preceding months, I knew that I’d neglected intimacy with Jesus. To reference another of Jesus’ letters in Revelation, I knew that He had been standing at the door and knocking, wanting only to come in and eat together (Revelation 3:20), but I’d mostly left Him out on the street. While I had not ignored Him completely—times of reading the Bible and prayer were still somewhat regular—I knew He had been calling me to a deeper level of intimacy since January, and I had simply not obeyed. My desire to be my own god, to call the shots, had led me to disobey the One who loved me enough to lay down His life for me. How could I fail to do the same?
Remember, Repent, and Do
The Holy Spirit’s diagnosis was spot on. But He was also faithful to bring an equally accurate prescription, found right in the same Revelation 2 passage. He continued by reminding me of the next words of Jesus to the church at Ephesus: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).
By God’s grace, I have pursued and enjoyed intimacy with Jesus for many years. The Holy Spirit was calling me to remember the closeness we’d enjoyed, and to hunger for it again.
Though some times of repentance had occurred in the weeks prior, this new clarity around the nature of my sin prompted a deeper kind of repentance. With my very life, I had made much of myself and little of Jesus! God was quick to swoop in with grace, assuring me of His unfailing love and forgiveness, despite my sin and my cold heart towards His Son.
Finally, the Spirit called me to do some of the very things that fostered intimacy with Jesus in the past—an unyielding commitment to prayer, regular exercise, getting adequate rest, and reading the Bible and books by wise, godly leaders. Practicing these habits in the power of the Holy Spirit would be the way to rekindle my love for the most important Person in my life.
Forgiveness and Cleansing
Every Sunday at the end of our church’s gathering, we remember Jesus together through communion. On that particular Sunday, it was especially comforting to contemplate the body of Jesus broken for me, and the blood of Jesus shed for me, together with my brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit reminded me of 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Having been cleansed and forgiven by Jesus, by God’s grace I am now walking forward in faith, pursing intimacy with the Person who saved me as a four-year-old boy. He is my first love. Passion for Him is returning, and thus, passion for serving Him.
Join the Conversation
How is God, through His Word, His Spirit, and His people, calling you to remember, return, and do—to love Jesus with your whole heart?