The Current, Part 2

Sometimes when we were kids, the only way we knew to adjust ourselves against the relentless beating of the waves was to get out of the water.

We would have to reset. Recalibrate. Refocus. Get out, walk it back, get back in.

Swimming counter to the current was exhausting. And after being carried so easily by the forcefulness of the waves, and seeing the distance we’d traveled from where we’d anchored ourselves, the best solution all around was to simply get out.

It’s funny, you know, how these analogies carry over into our spiritual lives.

I’ve thought of this often in reference to Hebrews 2.

I met a pastor once who complained about a certain system at play in youth culture. This endless habit of going to summer camp, year after year, giving one’s life to Christ (again), getting back home and getting back into the routine of September through May, falling out of love, only to go back to summer camp, again, and get born again, again

I remember he said this wasn’t the way God intended it.

He pointed up at some telephone poles and the dangling cords stretched between them. He said “That’s not what God intended, for us all to be strung along from experience to experience, from emotional high to emotional high. He wants perseverance, loyalty.”

The image of the telephone poles stuck with me.

Probably because I think he was wrong.

In Revelation 2, Jesus is writing a letter to a church that in so many ways seems successful and boast-worthy.

He says “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate 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” (2-3).

Pretty good, right?

They had persevered and were loyal, even-keeled. Not prone to emotional highs and lows.

“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” (4-5).

Losing our love for Christ –that first time, head-over-heels, intimate love we have for Him –is a central issue for our Savior. Nothing else matters if we don’t keep that fire kindled.

But His advice isn’t to feel bad about it. Which is what many of us do when we hear a convicting sermon or read a convicting post. His advice is to REPENT.

To reset. Recalibrate. Refocus. To get out of the water, walk it back, and get back in.

He essentially says “Do whatever you have to do to get back to where you were before.”

It’s the ocean analogy again.

Do you see it?

I love working with students. And for so many, summer camp is that annual opportunity for them to get back out of the water, to exit the stream that has pulled them and carried them and swept them up in its power, to get out of the current that they’ve fought against for so long, but that they’ve inevitably given in a little to as they’ve tried to live out their faith as foreigners in a foreign land.

Summer camp is that exit point. That chance to get out of the water, to get away from distractions, to repent, to walk it back up the shore, to confess that we don’t have it all together and we need grace and truth and help, to recalibrate, refocus, realign, and then, to get back in.

And maybe the emotional high to emotional high isn’t a preferable strategy.

But then again, maybe it is…

Jesus is using VERY emotional language in Revelation 2.

In fact, it’s the lack of emotion that seems to be what gets under His skin.

In one of the last concerts he performed before he died, Rich Mullins shared these words, that have stuck with me:

“Those of you that are young enough to go to camp and re-dedicate your life every year, you keep doing it. ‘Cause about the time you get to college you’re gonna learn that you have to re-dedicate your life about every six months. And then you’ll graduate from college and it will become a quarterly thing. By the time you’re in your 40’s and 50’s, you’ll do it about four times a day.”

We keep getting out of the water. We keep confessing we don’t have it all together. And somehow, by God’s grace, we arrive on that other side. And until that day, I think we do whatever we have to do to keep our heart’s affection for Him intact.

Maybe it’s not the preferred method. But it’s the honest one.

And if I’m reading Revelation 2 right, it seems to be the one Jesus is a fan of.

Can you remember a time you were more in love with Jesus than you are right now?

If you can, don’t feel bad about it. That’s not what He wants.

Repent. It’s a Greek word. It literally means “turn around.”

Get out. Walk it back.

Do the things you did at first, back when you were more in love.

What was different? What’d you do, where’d you go, who’d you go with?

Get out. Walk it back. Reset.

And get back in.

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