My Grace-Full Life

12.8.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Returning to the Love We Had at First

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I have the best dog in the world. I know—them’s fightin’ words! Every dog-person who reads this is ready to argue with me. We all think our dogs are the best. To me though, she is. But I’ll be the first to say that she is weird. Beth is the only Labrador who is scared of water and she hates to ride in cars. Forget about putting her on a leash—she’s like a bucking bronco (thank goodness for mobile vet service!). Her anxiety in storms and during fireworks is off the charts. But all in all, Beth is a good girl who obeys us… until she doesn’t.

Last night, we let her out after we got home and there was something in the woods behind our house that got her attention. And no calling her name and telling her to get in the house was going to get her attention. My husband ended up taking a flashlight to the backyard to get her. 

This morning, she did the same thing. I’m not sure what’s out there that has her so distracted, but as I tried to negotiate with my elderly, arthritic dog—she ignored my every command even though I know there’s nothing wrong with her hearing. She eventually came back in and now, as I write this, she’s laying on her bed, looking at me with her sweet brown eyes and I can’t stay mad at her.

I can’t help but think of how much I’m like my dog. I serve a Master who I want to please and obey. I want to do as He asks. But sometimes, I let myself get distracted and I no longer hear His voice. He may call out to me repeatedly, but I am so singularly focused on something else, I totally ignore Him.

In Revelations 2 and 3, there are letters written to seven churches. To the church at Ephesus, Jesus said, “But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:4-5a CSB). 

Abandoning our love and obedience to God doesn’t usually happen quickly. It usually starts with a small compromise. We negotiate with ourselves and make loopholes. Before we know it though, we make excuses as to why we don’t have time to read the Bible or go to church or listen when He calls us. And then, we wonder why we struggle and ponder when did things get so hard.

It’s because everything is harder when we aren’t focused on Savior. Colossians 3:1-2 CSB says, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” No one said life will be as easy as a Christian. In fact, Jesus definitively said, “You WILL have trouble” (John 16:33, paraphrased, emphasis mine). But as a recovered prodigal, I know with absolute certainty that though trouble will come, it’s easier to face when I’m walking with Jesus. 

Yet, knowing that truth, I’m still tempted to go my own way and do my own thing. I still get distracted. Thankfully, the solution Jesus gave to Ephesus works for us too—“repent, and do the works you did at first.”

Perfect obedience isn’t possible for imperfect people, but Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He will keep calling our name. He will keep urging us to come home. He will not wash His hands of us and say, “Forget it; figure it out without me.” We can rest in the truth of Romans 8:38-39 ESV, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Turn from your distractions. Repent and focus on Jesus and the love you had at first. Know that He will always call you and that nothing can separate you from His love.

Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for His love and for being the Good Shepherd. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you stay focused on Jesus and obedient to Him. If you have wandered away, ask Him to help guide you back to the safety and security of Jesus.

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