My Bible College days are a long way behind me. I have to admit that I have forgotten many of the things that I learned while there, but there is one thing I have never forgotten. I took a counselling in my second year and the teacher said something I have always remembered. The course was on general counselling, but this class was specifically on marriage counselling. My Professor said to us budding young pastors, “Most of the time, when a marriage problem actually reaches you, it will be six months too late.” At the time I found it to be a very discouraging statement, I still do. But I have also found it to be generally true. By the time a marriage problem gets so bad that a couple seeks help, the catalytic event has happened, trust has been fractured and the damage is often irrevocable.
I have been involved with a lot of weddings over the years. I remember couples standing nervously and starry eyed as they stated their vows of love and commitment to each other. Most couples at that moment, are resolute in their commitment. They are in love and truly believe that their love will conquer all. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. It's disappointing to watch as many of those relationships break over time. Relationships disintegrate for various reasons, but usually at the centre of it is some form of neglect. Communication erodes, conflicts are not resolved and then negligence begins to take it's toll and over time its consequences
are reaped . It's kind of like a garden. Gardens are beautiful if tended, but if not they can quickly become a mess. I once heard about a business owner who hired a landscaping company to redo the gardens of his head office. He explained what he was looking for, but concluded his explanation with the statement, that he would like the gardens to always look beautiful with little or no maintenance. The landscaper looked at him and said this profound statement, “No gardener…no garden.” In other words if you want a beautiful garden, it it going to take an investment of time and energy.
All relationships are the same. If you want any relationship to thrive and grow, it is going to take time and energy. It is the same with our relationship with God. In the book of Revelation, Jesus uses a marital image to describe His relationship with the church. He tells the church that they have “lost their first love.” (Revelation 2:4). They no longer love Him the way that they use to. Scripture tells me that God is love (1 John 4:8), and that He is faithful and true (Revelation 19:11). If there is neglect in my relationship with Him, it is not because of Him, because he is the same , yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). If I'm not close to God, it's not because He moved, I did. I'm reminded of the words of the beautiful hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above 1
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it” Our natural inclination is to move toward to neglect. What can we do to turn the tide in this regard? Here are a couple suggestions
- Start Fresh Daily. I was recently at a funeral of a beautiful, godly man and his daily prayer was Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God and renew a right spirit within me.” The late, Christian Singer, Keith Green said in one of his songs, “Everyday I pray to start a new because Lord, I don't want to fall away from you.” If you daily pay attention to your relationship with God, it will keep it from moving toward neglect.
- Include Him in Your Daily Rhythms. Peter Scazzero in his wonderful book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, talks about how we need to “stop and breathe the air of eternity.” Most of us are so busy running here, there and everywhere, that we often do not slow down enough to be able to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10) Our activities have become our mistress. Below is a link to an article by Peter Scazzero which stimulate your thinking in this area. Invite Jesus to be a part of your day.
Let's return to our first love: Jesus.
1 (Public Domain: Text Robert Robinson, Melody John Wyeth)