|The Library at Ephesus|
The car insurance was up for renewal yesterday. Nice surprise – the renewal was less than last year’s premium (thank you, Aviva). Every year I have paid more. Reversing the spiral of higher renewals is a relief.
Much time and energy is spent attempting to reverse the loss of hair, the recession, the weight gain. When successful, reversing a bad trend brings great joy. How can we reverse when we’re in a spiritual rut? Here are three ideas:
- Remember. It pays to reflect on times when we were filled with spiritual energy. When was the last time you were carried along by a sense of hope? What about when you lived with the presence of God as a very clear reality? We have all had those times. Take some time in prayer to meditate on that experience. Re-live the feelings, the thoughts, the events. Jesus wants to help the Ephesian church gain a sense of perspective, and so he asks them to do as I have suggested above, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen!” (Revelation 2:4–5 NIV11-GK)
- Repent. Someone once said to me, “If you’re not zealous for God, find something to repent of!”. It was said half in jest, but there is sense in the statement. A lack of spiritual fervour is not always about sin, but always about a change of heart and mind. Jesus knows that the Ephesian church can be a place of faith and joy once again, but a change is needed, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5 NIV11-GK). Repentance is not a bad thing, nor a guilt-trip. It is a decision opening the door to a more intimate relationship with God. Why not repent today?
- Repeat. The final act to jump out of the rut is to go back to the thinking and the deeds that brought about a closer relationship with God in the past. “Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5 NIV11-GK). What have you stopped doing that you used to do? Pray, read the Bible, share your faith, confess sins, serve the needy, be generous with your money … something else? The deeds earn us nothing, they are the outcome of repentance. But feelings or words without deeds are empty.
So there you have it. Three steps to a rut-less life. Do you need to act on one or all three today? It is vital to our spiritual survival to go through this process from time to time, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2:5 NIV11-GK)