“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.” –Revelation 2:2-3
I have, for a few weeks now, felt these verses speak to me. These are the very words of the glorified Christ speaking to John the Revelator upon the island of Patmos. These are words that carry weight and words that pierce. I wish I above all things that these words of Christ stopped at the end of verse three and went no further. For if these were the only words given than it would be such a mighty encouragement. They would be words of strength the likes of which no mortal man could ever udder. But this letter to the Church in Ephesus goes on to speak to my soul words that cause it lament upon hearing them and near collapse under the weight of knowing them to be true. After such a great encouragement Christ does as He always does, He, out of love, attacks the heart of the issue and does not allow outward appearance to be the standard. “But this I have against you,” my Kings bellows out, “that you have abandoned the love that you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”
Such words lay heavy upon my heart for I know that they are true. As much as it rips my soul apart and fills my eyes with the salty tears I have long held back I know that it is true. I once loved Jesus more than I do now. I can say that I hold strongly to the doctrine of the Scriptures, I can tell you of our fathers within the Church and all they have done for Christ. I know the right defense against that which is done in the name of Christ and bears not His resemblance. But all this is for not if I do not love Him. And I dare not say that I no longer love Him, but I must, in honesty, say that I no longer love Him as I once did. And if I have not love what does it matter if I hold the very doctrines of Heaven and proclaim them with the voice of angels?
I can remember the times where each day I rose early in excitement knowing that I was soon to take to prayer and hear my Beloved speak to me through the words that He long ago penned down through the inspiration of His own Spirit. I can hold close the memory of late nights and long days spent diving into the depths of Scripture and feeling the Spirit close at hand as if to offer any explanation that was asked of Him. The list of my past love goes on, and with each memory of a love lost the understanding of just how far I have allowed myself to fall becomes more and more evident. With each though the understanding of my own depravity grows stronger.
In this darkness that I know find myself the feeling of being alone engulfs me. I have listened to my own heart tell me that this is something to be covered up and nothing to be spoken of. My pride tells me that this is an issue to handle alone lest anyone think less of me. I hear the lie that tells me that I am alone there and that these words spoken by Christ have never pierced the heart of anyone as they now do to me. But I must believe that this is yet another lie that I have given shelter far too long and allowed to linger past its welcome. I have been in the Church time enough to see the love of others that once burned bright as the noonday sun wane away into nothing more than the flickering light of a candle about to die. I have seen all this, but I have also seen that this place in which I find myself is not away from the love of Christ. The very revelation that my love once burned brighter is the sign that the love of Christ still rages towards me as a wildfire unable to be put out or tamed.
In the first chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul speaks of God giving people over to themselves (Romans 1:24-32). Paul states that once the Holy Spirit no longer convicts us of our sin that we are then under the condemnation of God. So even in this place that I find myself I may rejoice knowing that even though the flame that once burned bight inside me now flickers dimly inside me the love of Christ holds me dear. It is here that the words spoken of Christ now carry the weight of He to whom they belong, “a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Is. 42:3, Matt 12:20).
So in this place of honest I may now chase after Christ. I may see Him once again as I once did, not because I deserve to be loved but because of the promise that He gave to keep me. In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel Christ tells the disciples this truth, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40). It is within these words that the burden of my wearied soul is lifted. My love for Christ has grown small, but because His love has not I may run towards Him. My strength has failed and left me weak, but it is in my weakness that Christ is shown to be strong. I have run from Him who I called my own, but He has shown Himself to be much faster.
The road back to love will not be an easy one, but as my father once told me, “Nothing ever worth doing was done easy.” So it is here that I find myself. Staring up at the mountain pass I must travel and knowing that I am not alone. For Christ is with me. My love has failed, His love never will. I may have fallen short but I may rest upon the words penned down by Paul, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” So this will be my journey, and it will be a journey worth taking.