There is no turning back in this world. You go forward, to the left or to the right, but there is no turning back.
That’s what I told myself as a way of encouraging myself. Of doing my part in not letting the past have a controlling hold on me. The past is the past and I need to focus on the future and what lies ahead. That the mistakes, as well as the victories of the past, were right where they belonged.
Sometimes the rigidity of a singularly focused mindset screams trouble!
A few years ago I was taking part in studies of Revelation from two different sources and these verses repeatedly pounced on me.
Revelation 2: 1-7: To the Church in Ephesus. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘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. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
My days were busy. With life. With work. With church activities. With ministry. Doing all that was required of me, and willingly. But, had I been one of those that had abandoned my first love?
Abandoned is a word that connects with pain. Physical, mental, emotional. Each of us at some time has felt abandonment in one way or another. To suddenly see myself as the one doing the abandoning and not the one being abandoned was a momentous, and painful, discovery. The battle between my “mantra” of no turning back and God’s truth didn’t last long. I realized that the overwhelming love that comes in the first season of your relationship with Christ was no longer there. Love was still there. The commitment was there. Yes, there was still a joy, but not as in the past. The past that I had for so long insisted needed to be kept in its safe tomb. Where I could control it so it had no chance of it controlling me.
So I repented. And I examined the works that I used to do. I asked the Lord to give me a clear understanding of the proper places in my heart for things of the past as I worked toward the future that He designed for me. Slowly, and sometimes in reluctance when my faith wavered off of Him and onto my own abilities, I have returned to some of the works of those early years. Some things only God can enable my rebellious aging body to take on. Some things He has not required of me. But there have also been doors that have opened for me that only He could open. As I stopped putting limits of time on a timeless Lord, my relationship with him grew stronger, returned to the intimacy of the past, and I can rejoice that I had ears to hear what the Spirit was saying.
Next blog: Beauty in the eyes of the beholder
“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Note on my choice to use ESV: The English Standard Version (ESV) is an “essentially literal” translation of the Bible. It was created by a collection of more than 100 leading evangelical scholars and pastors and it emphasizes “word-for-word” accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning.