Since first of July I’m doing a guided bible study especially for women using Judy Rossi‘s book “Enhancing Your Marriage“. This November I and my husband will celebrate our third wedding anniversary (yeyy) and although ‘three’ may sound not many yet, but during the years I’ve learnt a lot to laying down a strong foundation for our future marriage ahead (if it doesn’t start from now I’m afraid it’d be too late by then!). I’ve learnt a lot from my parents’ wrongs in their marriage and promising myself not to repeat the same, but you know what, promising ourselves not to repeat the mistake without the help and conviction and heart change from the Holy Spirit IS difficult! How many of you have actually promised the same and only to find out that you actually have done exactly the same mistake later on? Scary isn’t it… Indonesian calls it as ‘licking our own saliva’ 😛
God’s been teaching me to be proactive in handling issues and challenges in marriage and not to just leave problems unresolved (although I did have some issues lingered on for a while until I embarked on this bible study journey and have my mind changed by God!). In fact, being tired having to argue over and over about same issue was what motivated me to commit my time to this bible study. I ordered the book out of ‘desperation’ haha.. then soon forgot that I ordered it (especially when it arrived for too long, usually would only take a week for delivery time, yet this had taken like almost more than a month!). You know what’s wrong? I put wrong delivery address! Oh well technically it was the correct address but I entered ‘Indonesia’ as the country instead of ‘Australia’ lol.. yeah, the cost of ordering a book out of desperation lol..
Butttt.. one day during my 40-days fasting and praying that I started in mid of June the book suddenly arrived!! Exactly on the first of July! haha,, Now that I’ve been blessed a lot by the study I know a lot that it must be God sending the book just at the right time (if I received it earlier when my heart was still prideful and my goal was to ‘win’ over my husband I guess I wouldn’t give my wholehearted heart studying the subjects as my heart wasn’t in receptive state).
Oh friends, I have desires to share these many stories and testimonies I benefit from the study, let’s start from this week’s subject “Returning to First Love” (although it almost reaches to the end of the study). I very much realize one underlying truth about this study, it shows me that my relationship with God affects my relationship with my husband. The way I treat God will be the same as I treat my husband, knowing God better will bring me to know my husband better too. There’s so much to learn about my marriage relationship with my husband that will reveal me even more the deep connection of my relationship with God!
My anniversary date with Jesus is 30 April, marked by my water baptism done on the same date in 2005, so next year it’ll be our 9th anniversary (yeyyy!). I didn’t know Him in personal back then so I guess it’s fair for me to celebrate our anniversary ‘formally’ from year 2005 😛 Nine may still sound not many yet (not like others who have walked with God for more than decades!) yet I know I have a great God who will continue to reveal more of Him and awe me with all the ‘newness’ about Him along my future ways 🙂
I have to admit along the years as “busyness” came (turning point was when I had a boyfriend who now is my husband, then marriage, then motherhood) my focus on Him often got distracted and I started to treat our relationship ‘more casual’. Knowing better of the scriptures over the years made me became less interested in studying the word of God in Bible everyday. Treating prayer as ‘the air that I breathe’ had actually resulted in ‘casual prayers’ in which I prayed wherever and whenever I wanted, without commitment to set aside intimate quite time to engage myself in deeper conversation with God. Moreover, I also experienced lost of purpose in ministering God in church particularly with the given hectic schedule (while I was in Indonesia). I didn’t think of other reason to sing or lead the worship other than fulfilling the schedule.
It may be the same with marriage relationship. It doesn’t mean that the husband/wife have abandoned their spouse, they may still fulfill each responsibilities toward one another yet they have lost something very important in their relationship: their first love! Just how much dangerous this kind of relationship?
Revelations 2:2-3 (to the Ephesians church) *don’t skip reading these verses even though you’ve read them before*
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate the wicked people, 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”
Sounds they had done things right?
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far 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 its place” – Revelations 2:4-5
I also have read these verses many times before and I know that I shouldn’t neglect my first love for God, but how about if I have? What should I do?
The verses give us three things we have to do: 1. “Consider how far you have fallen”
“Consider” meaning kindly remember how far you have abandoned your first love toward God. I did this in the earlier paragraphs. Things that at that time I still thought was ‘okay’ (at least I still read, pray and serve God), yet where was actually the true essence in doing all of those things? Here I want to share my conviction, how I personally feel that merely reading God’s words (from broadcast devotional message in smartphone, ‘Facebook devotional’, your friends’ godly messages in Twitter etc) compared with really studying them brings very much difference to myself in terms of the depth of my understanding of God’s heart and receiving heart changing revelations. Not until I do this marriage bible study that my eyes be opened that truly God rewards me so much more compared with when I merely read someone’s devotional or randomly read bible verses (they do have blessed me in some ways, but later I figure out they are still lack of the ‘depth’ my spiritual heart really needs). I’m not speaking in terms of physical reward, but I get to know more about God by studying thoroughly and understanding correctly the context of the spoken God’s words in Bible and to apply them correctly in my life rather than judging too soon merely by reading two verses broadcasted from your friend (for example).
I was ashamed to confess that there was time when as a Christian I did not read and study the Bible everyday. Instead of treating Bible as my ‘must read’ book, I substituted it with other Christian books.
John 1:1 and 4-5 say,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”
Neglecting to read God’s words in Bible is rejecting God Himself!
So, first part, do your ‘confession’ before God and to people you are accountable for, of how far you have fallen. Than moving on to step 2. Repent
Ask God’s forgiveness and commit to turn your way from the wrongs. The sooner we confess and repent, the sooner God will restore our first-love zeal for Him before mediocrity and boredom rule your heart instead and by then the relationship has turned ‘sour’ and ‘very casual’ and it’d be more difficult to recover the love (although not impossible).
3. Do the things you did at first
Don’t stop at asking God’s forgiveness, commit to bring in the change, choose to change. I used to play worship songs at my own room and worshipping God and dancing to God shamelessly, now I bring it back again after it was missing for quite some time. It’s also good for Aimee to see her mom dancing joyfully for God not only in church but also in private time. I write my diary diligently again as I have an unique way of sharing deep conversation with God (https://crunchynat.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/six-months-after/), what things that you enjoyed when you first fell in love with Jesus but now have been forsaken due to circumstances and other things? Do that again 🙂
Well, I almost reach to the end of this sharing. This writing is far way from ‘a religious piece’, it is simply my sharing from my experience. It’s not easy to return to our first love with God especially after we think we have fallen too deep into our ‘wordly routine’. Laziness, boredom, busyness may overweight our will to return. At least that’s what I experienced. Yet it’s never too late with God, He has the power to transform your heart and re-ignite the love as long as you commit to make the first move.
One thing before I reallyyyy end this sharing haha.. don’t get mistaken the ‘first love’ with ‘feelings’. Crying in tears of admiration in the presence of God feels awesome, but that is not the primary goal of returning to first love with God. Similarly with marriage, as years go by the affection between the spouses rely much more on the deeper heart emotional connection rather than the ‘butterflies in stomach’ feelings. Simply enjoy the intimate time in the presence of God and have fun returning to your first love with God 😉