I live, currently, near the seaside. The beach is only minutes away, and we regularly hear the waves crashing on the shore as we go to sleep at night. It’s wonderful. But there’s one thing I loathe about the nature of life--we grow all too familiar with our surrounds. Follow me…
I ride past the beach now and look out; hearing the white noise of the waves, and it’s just not quite as special as it once was. I somehow know how special it is but it just doesn’t feel as special anymore; I’m sure you might relate somehow. Perhaps I just need to really focus on it? I’m trying.
But this is true to a large extent of the nature of life as I mentioned previously. Our familiarity with things--all things--breeds contempt, or at least contempt in a way that we grow less grateful for things compared to how grateful we once were of them.
I would love to tell the notional young lady who’s besotted presently with her prince and vice versa, that the freshness of love withers and wanes with time and what was once dazzling in its mystery becomes, with time, ironically mysterious for its dysfunction. How twisted love really is when placed in human hands! (i.e. without the divine.) We truly learn what commitment’s all about once the shine wears off, don’t we? This is the cold and hard fact of love; a thing that requires much work.
The simple fact is we all take things far too much for granted after the initial novelty of the thing or person wears off.
We do this with our faith too. The new believer is laughed at for their enthusiasm (yet I’m sure some are envious!), yet it is Christ who looks on approvingly, saying in effect, ‘don’t lose your wonder of me; hold it close to your heart, valuing and cherishing it for the rest of your life.’ How many first-time believers lose their love of God and meander hopelessly in many cases through the remaining sad and sorry years of their lives, inevitably rejecting the gospel they once embraced.
Or there’s the semi-matured believer (sounds a little like a cheese) who still attends church and Bible study etc, and is hooked up in Christian community but is really only going through the motions--and for what?--To be part of some divinely inspired and directed club? The making of a Christ-like character is hardly the objective here.
This must have been what it was like for the Hebrews; the target of the biblical letter, Hebrews, I mean. They had slidden back, and had formed some troublesome patterns of behaviour, reminiscent of their former Judaist ways. They were probably confused as to whether to take the plunge with Jesus or not. Once the shiny clean exterior of Christianity had tarnished, they were tempted to return to what they knew.
It’s no different for contemporary people who have the world to return to; the world has a lot to offer compared with ‘bearing your cross,’ doesn’t it?
How do we somehow re-capture that first love that God placed firmly in our heart? It is paradoxically cruel that when we suffer, and at last we really begin to need God again, that first love and attachment grows back almost instantly. How bizarre, yet, how very human (and divine) that arrangement is.
Give us back our first love of you, and your Creation, Lord God, we ask in Jesus’ name. Help us to truly want it back; our first love of you.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.