Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Revelation 2:1-7 (NRSV)
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are 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. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what 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 is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I gave our daughter a hamster. It was her first pet, and exactly what she’d wanted. Layla collapsed to her knees, squealed with gleeful disbelief, and proceeded to spin around on the floor with her eyes closed and mouth open, barely catching her breath. We felt good because we’d made our little girl happy. Our hearts felt huge as we tucked her in that night.
By morning, her enthusiasm had dwindled. That sweet little hamster turned out to be nocturnal, and had engaged in his favorite night-time activity for most of the night. Layla complained to us about the squeaking of the hamster wheel and how it kept her awake. This was the first of many “teachable moments” with that hamster. We quickly redirected her dissatisfaction by reminding her that she could go play with the little guy.
Layla and the hamster never really bonded. It wasn’t long before the animal that had once brought her such joy became just the noisy little hamster that took up space in her room, disrupted her sleep, and made the whole house stinky if she didn’t clean his cage. He became a chore, a burden. She’d feed him and check on his water (almost) every day, but she didn’t marvel at his adorable face or talk to him or play with him. Nearly a year later, we found him at permanent rest beside his beloved stationary wheel. Never have I seen a child so distraught. As I watched her weep, I suspected that some of the tears were ones of remorse. She remembered the times too plentiful to count that she’d thrown food in his bowl on her way out the door, and the also plentiful times that she’d forgotten to feed him at all. I think she wished she’d done a better job of caring for and loving him.
All of this is conjecture, admittedly, because Layla never could quite put her sorrow into words. I suppose I just know that feeling well: being confronted with the fact that you didn’t do your best or that you could have done more; worrying that you’ve failed someone you love. But isn’t it easy to lose our passion for the things we do every day? We may punch the clock and meet our deadlines. We may show up to teach Sunday school every week. We may serve great meals or host great parties or have the best yard on the block, but if we view these tasks as chores and do them without love, we are often just going through the motions. In what areas of your life have you abandoned the love you once had? How can you commit to rediscovering your passion?
Lord, help us to be more present in our work, in our home, in our community, and in our relationship with you. Help us to pour love into everything we do and to relight the lamp of passion for you that we once had. Help us to move past our regrets and to rededicate ourselves to living our faith in fullness. Amen.
Go with God.