Many go to great lengths to find something to be truly passionate about. When they do, they hope to sustain the feeling as long as possible. But when the initial fire dies down into embers, does this mean that the love and inspiration is coming to an end? Is there something we can do to fan the flame and rekindle the ardor of inspired commitment to that something or someone we love?
In a long relationship between individuals, in a career or with organizations, duty or responsibilty can tend to take the place of joy and spontaneity; and inspired thinking and acting can suffocate under the daily grind. In this case, what we may have once fiercely loved can tend to become a trial of patience and a test of endurance. The Bible offers some insight into what happens when fresh thought fades into habitual patterns of thinking and acting. The apostle John delivered a message from the Revelator - from Jesus Christ - to a church in Ephesus, Greece that had fallen victim to daily routine. He warned: “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and thou hast… borne and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelation 2:2-4)
Here, passion is linked to vision, a spiritual vision involving inspiration. When we recapture the inspiration that initiated or spurred on a good idea or relationship, we have reconnected with the flame – the first love that restores joy and purpose.
When actions spring from renewed vision, they act like a fan drawing on a spark until the full blaze is restored. Find inspiration and you find a reason for being. Express the inspiration by doing the “first works” - approaching the relationship with a virgin attitude ("Fresh; new; unused; as virgin soil" - Webster's 1828 Revised Unabridged Dictionary) and the fire tends to spread to those around you.
During the first decade of marriage, my husband and I fell comfortably and naturally into the routine of work and family responsibilities. We had a sweet, loving relationship with mostly ups and very few downs. However, as steady and generally smooth as things were, we were still two people evolving at our own pace, with interests and activities that sometimes converged and often diverged. To a certain extent, we had let our relationship become a bit dusty. Nearing our tenth anniversary, I was longing to rediscover the fire of purpose in the relationship.
Ours was a marriage formed in prayer. I had been praying daily to see the qualities of God expressed in a life-companion. When I met my husband, I recognized his divine qualities right away. After the marriage and over time, regular, consistent prayer for the marriage dropped off and was replaced by the general day-to-day business of the family. And the vision? The inspiration? The fire and passion? That, too, had slowly faded out as the relationship was more and more deprived of that element of prayer so essential to its formation.
So the Revalator's advice to that Ephesus church was on the mark for me. I rediscovered my “first love” through doing the “first works” – practicing again the consistent prayer that had brought us together in the beginning.
One of my issues with the marriage concerned the subject of spirituality. This was clearly a big part of my life. For him? Not so much. I was the church goer, he worked on Sundays. I was spiritually hungry - a genuine seeker. He seemed to have no spiritual curiosity whatsoever. So I asked God in prayer, “After ten years together, are we really on completely different life paths? Is there anything that we can do to bring these two different tracks together?”
I had been thinking that if only my husband would change, or admit to himself that he was spiritual, we could rediscover our bond. Now I realized it didn’t depend on him at all. He wasn’t the one thinking he wasn’t very spiritual. That was my issue. I saw that if I admitted to myself that my husband was God’s own likeness, this would set us both free to master the infinite possibilities of our marriage.
I took up daily prayer to watch for, and be a witness to, my husband’s spirituality, and I began to notice so many of his spiritual qualities. Marriage, to me, became a full-on commitment to witnessing to the best in each another. My sense of marriage was reborn. I discovered that the passion I had been seeking was present in direct proportion to my prayers and spiritual witnessing. Our life together was once again full of joy and inspiration. I never said a word to him about this prayer and spiritual renewal, because my struggles on the subject were between me and God. But he noted that the marriage was better than ever, and he was right.
Prayer isn’t just last minute emergency life-support. Prayer can be a permanent life-link to a passionate expression of Life, God. If you are looking for more passion in your life, for renewal of commitment, and fresh joy in your familly, your work, your church, I highly recommend a regimen of prayer that opens you to see more of the divine expressed in and around you. The admission to yourself that you and those in your midst are God’s own likeness, can set you free to live a truly inspired life – aflame with divine Love.
This post first appeared on this blog under the title "Aflame with Divine Love" on November 2, 2011. It has been revised and new links have been added.
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