It’s that time of year again: Back to school is in full swing, leaving me nostalgic for the smell of newly-sharpened pencils, the feel of new sneakers, first day of school pictures, and all of the excitement and anxiousness that come with the brand-new school year. Now that I’m no longer a student, the start of the school year doesn’t look quite the same (though it does still involve newly-sharpened pencils as a Faith Formation director!), but it still has me reflecting on fresh starts.
Throughout the year, we’re given so many opportunities for a fresh start—New Year’s, the start of the new liturgical year with Advent, the season of Lent and Easter, and even just the normal rhythms of the seasons, like the start of the school year. How can we best make use of these opportunities for a ‘fresh start’?
One of the most haunting lines for me in all of Scripture is this line from the Book of Revelation, part of Jesus’ words to the church in Ephesus: “But this I have against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Talk about a wake-up call! This slugger follows Jesus’ affirmations of their perseverance and ability to resist the lies of false prophets, reminding them that being on the defensive is not enough. He wants us on the offensive, to be drawing closer to His Heart. It’s not enough to be against what is evil; we need to be for Him, growing in intimacy with Jesus, allowing Him to break through the barriers of our hearts to love us more deeply.
Letting God love us, to truly love us, can be one of the most difficult things we will ever do. And it continues to be a battle day after day as we strive to open our hearts and let Him love us, because we resist His love in a thousand different ways.
But Jesus also gives us the remedy for this problem of falling away from our initial zeal of love in the very next line of the Book of Revelation: “Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first.” It makes me ask myself, what things did I do when I first fell in love with Christ that kept that love strong and vibrant and tender? How can I make a fresh start to shake myself out of my complacency, out of my fear and spiritual exhaustion and paralysis?
I’ve been listening to quite a bit of worship music from Bethel lately, and one thing I’ve been struck by is the deep intimacy with Christ that the songs speak about. Here are 3 of my top favorites (just click on the title for a link) that have helped to remind me to come back to that love I had at first:
When we allow ourselves to go deeper in intimacy with Christ, to allow Him to know our hearts in a profound way and to get to know His Heart, then we can learn to trust Him and to live from a place of freedom and peace. Then we can be content knowing that even though we aren’t in control, our God is and He is good.