January of 2016 was a time of soul quiet for me. I posted almost nothing on any social media outlet, and I spent a lot of time with the Lord.
One thing He showed me was that this passage from Revelation 2, written to the church of Ephesus, fit me almost exactly:
“I know your works and your labor and your patience
and how you cannot bear them which are evil: [Yes, He’s got that right.]
and you have tried them which say they are apostles and are not
and have found them liars, [Yes, nailed it again.]
and you have borne reproach and have patience,
and for My Name’s sake have labored and have not fainted.
[Since I already knew the passage, I knew what was coming next, but I also believed that this first part described me fairly aptly.]
Nevertheless, I have something against you,
because you have left your primary love.
Therefore, remember [the place] from where you have fallen
and repent [come to your senses], and do the most important works:
or else I will come to you quickly and remove your candlestick out of its place,
unless you repent [come to your senses].
[Yowee—that hit me between the eyes. I wasn’t sure about that candlestick part, but I came to my senses and cried out to God to renew my primary love.]
But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans [those who lead Christians into immorality in the name of Christian liberty], which I also hate.
Ok, I felt like what the Ephesians were standing against wasn’t quite like what I was standing against, though I could certainly see that this “cheap grace” phenomenon is still prevalent in society, but I figured this commendation would apply to anyone who stood against evil in any form.
I noticed that God used the “sandwich” approach: Say something nice. Then hit ‘em between the eyes. Then say something nice again.
He who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
If I fall back into a pattern of working for God out of my own fleshly self-effort (a pattern of working that is roundly condemned over and over and OVER in the New Testament, and which I’ve blogged about here and here and here and here and here, among other places) I could perhaps have something to show for it that could be productive, at least by earthly standards, and at least for a while.
But if I work out of the divinely energized spirit, empowered by His Spirit, then He might want me to do some things that don’t quite make sense—like not write on my devotional blog for six months, which as we all know, sounds the death knell for bloggers—but He will be the faithful vinedresser for the fruit of the vine coming out of that branch. He’ll teach me things in the secret place that I couldn’t have learned otherwise.
He will, perhaps, even show me that the evil I face off with is far greater and more pervasive than I saw before, but will also remind me anew, as I return to the place of my Primary Love, that He is greater, far greater, and His nail-scarred hands are outstretched in love to bind up the broken hearted, to set the captives free, to restore sight to the blind.
Ah, but that’s another blog post.
(That title? Well . . . forgive me. . .)