Our journey is to take us forward with Messiah pointing the way. We are on the Pilgrim’s Progress. Though to some we appear to wander about, we are blown by the Spirit. We are as the Earth, in constant motion. As one old sailor put it, “If I rest, I rust.” Certainly we linger once and a while, here or there, to help someone or to recover some malady, or even to rest. It’s all spelled out by King David in Psalm 23:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
In John’s Revelation, (2:4,5) the Lord points out to us, however, there are times in which we must take a few steps backward. We must retrace our path, our steps.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
“Remember – Consider the state of grace in which you once stood; the happiness, love, and joy which you felt when ye received remission of sins; the zeal ye had for God’s glory and the salvation of mankind; your willing, obedient spirit, your cheerful self-denial, your fervor in private prayer, your detachment from the world, and your heavenly-mindedness. Remember – consider, all these.
“Whence thou art fallen – Fallen from all those blessed dispositions and gracious feelings already mentioned. Or, remember what a loss you have sustained; for so εκπιπτειν is frequently used by the best Greek writers.
“Repent – Be deeply humbled before God for having so carelessly guarded the Divine treasure.
“Do the first works – Resume your former zeal and diligence; watch, fast, pray, reprove sin, carefully attend all the ordinances of God, walk as in his sight, and rest not till you have recovered all your lost ground, and got back the evidence of your acceptance with your Maker.”
–Adam Clarke (1760 or 1762 – 1832) British Methodist theologian and Biblical scholar.
There are times when I really want to escape the “modern” life. I want to go back to the Good Ole Days, to return to the Life of Riley. I read Revelation 2, the letter to the Church at Ephesus, and immediately recall the tough yet glorious days I spent in overseas ministries. Nothing about my life then was routine, ordinary. There was struggle, but there were inner rewards. As The Reverend Clarke wrote, “blessed dispositions and gracious feeling” surrounded me. I think back the trucking ministry over the road, traveling the highways of America, meeting people, ministering. Tough, hard. Yes. But oh so wonderful.
Ah, but it’s so easy to forget that retracing steps taken to get me to where I am at this minute doesn’t necessarily mean physical steps. There are spiritual steps taken that have removed me somewhat from the reasons for the glorious feelings of past times. Have I failed to take opportunities each day to do something simple such as pray? When was the last time I sat simply waiting for the Spirit of G-d to fill me, changing my heart? The Reverend Clarke wrote “Resume your former zeal and diligence; watch, fast, pray, reprove sin, carefully attend all the ordinances of God, walk as in his sight, and rest not till you have recovered all your lost ground, and got back the evidence of your acceptance with your Maker.”
It’s not the occupation in the former ministries that brought me closest to G-d, it was the way in which I approached G-d. It was the way I loved and responded to Messiah. The Apostle Paul found the same satisfaction in his Lord, our Lord, in times of terror and imprisonment as he found in times of blessed respite and fellowship. He was content in all things. Contentment isn’t a product of things external, but of what’s going on within.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .