“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love. Remember the heights from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from it’s place.” (Revelation 2:2-5)
Before we wade into today’s discussion about rough marital waters, we need to interpret this scripture in context. It was originally written to the church at Ephesus. Now, Ephesus had a rich and beautiful history; Paul had planted it. Aquilla and Priscilla, along with Apollos served there. Young Timothy had also worked in Ephesus. Historic tradition even places Apostle John, the Revelator ministering there for a season.
But two generations had passed since their planting and the church’s appetite for the things of Christ had waned. They were following a routine of godliness, but their hearts weren’t in it. They were going through the motions of church, but their actions were empty and inattentive.
Could the same be said of your affections for Christ today? What about your spouse? Are you still going through the motions of Christ following, or being married, yet your heart isn’t in it?
Today’s text is absolutely about the church, our fleshy tendency to move toward apathy and God’s implicit instructions to address these conditions. At the same time, we can see implications for our marriages, also.
God knows our deeds. He sees the pirates and the storms we talked about last week. He’s aware of the rocks. He knows that life is not easy. But He’s given us our spouse as a blessing and a helpmate. Yes, sometimes they act or speak like wicked people. Sometimes WE act or speak like wicked people. Sometimes we don’t behave like the Christians we all claim to be. God is aware of the lies or the breaches of trust. But He’s asking us to endure for Kingdom’s sake! Don’t grow weary.
Even in routine faithfulness; God has a bone to pick with us. We’ve lost our first love. We’ve allowed the flame we carried for our spouse to flicker. The thrill is gone. We’re on the rocks. We need a plan and total cooperation to experience God’s rescue.
In this scripture, we see three very distinct instructions for marriage rebuilding.
1.) Remember the heights.
2.) Repent from sin.
3.) Return to beginning effort.
Let’s dip our toes into the first instruction: remember the heights. Years ago there was a popular song with lyrics that every couple falling in love might relate to:
I am thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images
And when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned
And I have to speculate
That God Himself did make
Us into corresponding shapes
Like puzzle pieces from the clay
They will see us waving from such great heights
Come down now, they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
Come down now but we’ll stay
(The Postal Service)
Marriage begins at dizzying altitudes, doesn’t it? We fall in love and commit to forever but the elevation changes quickly. Life has a way of bringing us back down to earth and all too soon the man you married becomes the man who makes you mad.
The first step in surviving rough marital waters is remembering the heights. Take a few moments and think back to the beginning of your story. How did you meet your spouse? What did he look like? Did he approach you or did you approach him? What special details stand out?
Remember dating. Remember the wonder of discovering the person God designed for you. Take some time and go through old letters, memorabilia, and photos. Recall early experiences and those first fluttery feelings. Maybe even recreate a few of those moments, revisit a location historic to your story. Rewatch the movie from your first date. Return to the restaurant where you first fell in love.
As you reminisce; remind your spouse of these things. Let those memories stoke the coals of your love today. If we don’t, we get old and busy and we forget. The person we love slides into roommate status or worse.
Growing up, I loved the Cosby Show. The Huxtable home seemed so normal and steady; I tuned in for all eight years. The kids dealt with homework and peer pressure. Mom and Dad worked hard but made time for family. They all ate meals together and had hard conversations. There was a lot of singing and dancing and laughter.
When our kids were in elementary school, we broke out the Cosby Show for family entertainment. It hits different as a married mom of two. I realized quickly that Cliff and Claire’s beautiful family had everything to do with their strong marriage. They paid attention, they celebrated one another and they recalled their origin story often. I can think of one particular episode where Cliff painstakingly recreates the meal from their honeymoon. Sadly, he winds up sick in bed while Claire delights in his extravagant display of affection.
I know it’s only a television show, but a husband and wife who regularly return to their roots stay rooted. Cliff and Claire had told the story of their Caribbean meal so many times that each of their five children could repeat it verbatim. It’s clear to me that their marriage stood through the storms of life because they remembered the right things.
A happy union will require a lot of memory work: dismissing offenses and rehearsing the heights. Make time to visit the happy moments in your marriage often. Run mental fingers over the raised edges of your story and let them lead your heart toward your husband again and again.
“I remember the days of old. I ponder all Your great works and think about what You have done.” (Psalms 143:5 NIV)
Lord, forgive us for forgetting first love. Life gets in the way and we get waylaid from what’s most important. Help us find time to remember the heights this week. Remind us of the origin story. May we revel again in our spouse. Rescue us from the rocks. Amen.
Here’s that song if you are interested. Maybe share it with your hubby. 🙂
Leave a Reply