When I took time for my New Year’s reflection last week, I was surprised by what God said. Instead of prompting to pursue something new, He prompted me to return to something old.
I realized that many of the goals I had set for last year I had actually followed through on. There are no looming areas of neglect that call for setting new objectives. And yet, when I talked over the year with God, I felt a strong sense of dissatisfaction. In spite of my good disciplines and practices, I didn’t feel close to God as I once had. I missed that—a lot. And I told Him so.
His response was simple: Do the things you did at first. I recognized His reference to Revelation 2:5 where Jesus exhorted the church at Ephesus to return to their first love. Although I didn’t feel as if I had abandoned Jesus, my first love, I had to admit that the loving feelings weren’t as strong as they have been in the past.
So I asked God to help me recall the “things” I had done previously that had helped to cultivate the close relationship with God that we both had enjoyed so much. I jotted down things like music, nature, days alone with God, lectio divina, Sabbath, and a few more.
I know from experience that none of these are magic bullets to spiritual intimacy. There is no such thing. But I also know without nurturing my friendship with God by creating intentional “space for grace” that the closeness I long for isn’t likely to happen. So that’s why I plan to be revisiting some of the practices that have helped me draw near to God in the past.
What about you? Are there any things you used to “do at first” that God might be inviting you to return to? What has helped you to enjoy close relationship with Him? Won’t you share your ideas and experiences with the rest of us?