I sat down at my table with my Bible and journal. Beside them sat a cup of tea, tendrils of steam softly floating into the air. It was the time I had set aside to spend with Jesus. I was about to close my eyes and pray, when my phone pinged, signaling an incoming text.
I quickly looked at it and answered. Then I noticed I had a couple of new emails. Scrolling through them, I saw that one had to be answered quite soon. The minutes silently ticked by as I took the time to compose a response and send it.
Then I remembered that I hadn’t added sugar to my tea. Getting up, I found the sugar cup, but it was empty. I went to the cupboard to get the bag of sugar to refill it, but found that the sugar bag was missing. This started a scavenger hunt looking for the missing sugar, when I finally remembered that I was out of sugar.
I pulled out a sheet of paper and began a grocery list, adding sugar to the top. But of course, my thoughts didn’t stop there. After adding about another ten items, I sat down at the table again.
My feet were finally still, but my mind wasn’t.
My thoughts began to compile ideas for some ministry devotionals and so I started to jot them down. As one concept began to develop in my mind, I started up my computer and began to type.
Time kept slipping by.
After a few moments had passed, I heard some frantic squealing in our yard. I looked out the window and saw that a few horses had gotten out, and were right beside the fence of our stallion. I called for help, and then darted out the door to get the horses back in the fence. After running around and we got the strays caught and put away.
We headed back to the house, and got breakfast ready. I closed my Bible and placed it and my journal off to the side. I would have to find time later to spend with Jesus.
The morning passed and soon it was lunch. Right before we were about to eat, there was a knock at the door, and I had the opportunity to share a bit of the gospel with some people that were visiting. Once they left, we ate and continued on with the day’s activities. Supper came and went, and you know what?
The day skipped along so quickly that by the time evening passed into night, I fell into my bed exhausted, and travelled to dreamland, promising myself that I would spend time with God in the morning.
But the next morning came and as I was tired, I slept in a little longer. When I did wake up I had to charge into the day, and soon it sped by much like the one before.
While the events described above are examples of different distractions – even things that are good – that I have been faced and been challenged with…the result of opening the door to one distraction usually follows the same path, and before I know it, I have allowed little distractions to squish God out of first place in my life.
In the book of Revelation 2:1 – 6, Jesus speaks some words to the church in Ephesus. These were believers who were busy doing good work. They were persevering and not giving up. They didn’t tolerate wickedness and they were using God’s Word to discern truth from falsehood. They were busy laboring for Jesus’ sake and not becoming weary doing…
Yet, in spite of all that they were “doing”, Jesus said that He had one thing against them.
They had left or departed from their first love.
I am sure if they had been asked if they still loved Jesus, their answer would have been “Love Jesus? Of course we do! Can’t you see all that we are doing for Him?”
But it wasn’t the “doing” that was the most important to Jesus.
Most important to Jesus was what was going on in their hearts…
And He didn’t like what He was seeing…
In spite of all that they were accomplishing, they were leaving Him behind. They were no longer putting Him in first place of their lives. They were no longer making Him a part of every part of their lives.
Jesus’ words to describe what was taking place in their hearts was that they had forsaken their first love.
And His response to this was not “Oh, don’t worry about it! I see all the good you are doing…we can catch up later.”
His response confronted what was going on in their hearts. He had three commands for them:
- Remember from where you have fallen
- Return to the things you did at first
Ouch! I remember when God confronted me with these same words…
For I had not seen what was going on in my heart…
But God did.
And He let me know that – just like the believers in Ephesus – I was forsaking Him as my first love.
I am so thankful that He confronted me, because when He did, I had to acknowledge that there was a subtle shift that was taking place in my heart and in my mind. Although I was still busy “doing” things for God, He was no longer first place in my life.
Instead of starting the day with Him, I was using those extra moments to sleep. Instead of asking Him to direct my steps, I was dictating my own. Rather than acknowledging that I needed His wisdom and strength to do the work He had set before me to do and then asking for it, I began to make decisions on the fly and complete them in my own strength.
Ever so slowly, the joy, delight and lasting contentment that I had known as a child beloved by the King of Kings lessened as I began to fill my life with things instead of God. Ever so slowly, instead of giving thanks and glory to God for helping me complete the tasks He had set before me to do, I began to give myself a pat on the back. Instead of facing trials with joy and seeking the face of God to discover what He wanted to teach me in order to help my faith mature, I looked for a way to escape them or make them end.
As God helped me to see the subtle shift in the attitude of my heart, I remembered the place from which I had fallen. I asked God to forgive me for not loving Him with ALL of my heart, soul, strength and mind, for allowing distractions to crowd Him out and for striving to complete His work without Him.
And do you know what happened?
Delight and contentment returned as I once again started my day with Him, feeding on His Word as He taught me and directed my thoughts for the day ahead. The tasks that I carried out were completed for His glory and not my own. I began to know His joy in the trials that I was facing – even though it was still difficult, and armed with His joy, I found I had the strength to endure it while He used the trial to mature my faith.
I have had to remember the truths that I learned in this lesson many times, because I find that it is far too easy to drift away from Jesus, my first love. Forsaking Him as my first love happens so subtly…little by little, until I find that I have drifted far away from Him in my heart – even though outwardly I am still busy doing good and working hard for Him. When He is my first love, He seasons every aspect of my life with His joy and peace, and I can face the day armed with His strength and wisdom.
For me, spending time with Him each day is one of the keys by which He keeps my heart anchored to Him…
So that little distractions don’t lead me to forsake my first love.