“The kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who made a marriage for his son.”
Matthew 22:2

“Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.”
Rev 19:7

“And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband.”
Rev 21:2

God gave marriage as a model of our relationship with Christ, and countless comparisons can be made.

One of those comparisons is the 7-Year itch.  Or 4-Year, or 10-Year, or 20-Year. 

The 7-Year Itch is a term coined to describe one or both spouses’ decline in love for the other after 7 years, or any period of time in marriage. Otherwise known by the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt.”  

The husband or wife begins to tire of the relationship, believing that fireworks should spark every day for the rest of their lives, and if they don’t something must be drastically wrong. Kindnesses are left behind, thoughtlessness ensues, forgiveness seems hard to come by, and resentment settles in.

Sometimes, though, it’s not that drastic.  Sometimes things are just…blah.

Sometimes there’s just indifference.  Life seems mundane. Passion has waned.

Suddenly the grass seems to look a whole lot greener anywhere else. Eyes begin to look outward into the world for something else. And there is always something, or someone, more than willing to be the object of our affection.

Not only does that happen at an alarming rate in earthly marriages, it happens within the Bride of Christ.

I had been searching for something, for God in some way, since I was very young. As a kid I looked everywhere from philosophical books to church to the quiet dignity and wisdom of a shaolin monk on the television show Kung Fu. My life had been painful and I desperately looked for answers, for wisdom, for love in some form.

So at the age of 26 when I walked into a building on a Sunday morning with a gathering of Christ-believing people, where the presence of the Holy Spirit had gathered with them, I felt His love and grace and mercy wash over me, and I knew I had found the One I had looked for all my life. I found the Answer, the Wisdom, the Love, and so much more.

I was dead and now I was alive!

I was filled with an excitement and a passion I could barely contain. That first week I found a Christian bookstore and ran right out to buy myself a Bible and a cross necklace. I was at church whenever the doors were open, soaking up His Word, watching, listening, learning, serving.  The honeymoon lasted for years.

Then slowly but surely, the reality of life, of relationships, even within the church, began to slap me in the face and wake me from my dream. Even in Christ, life wasn’t perfect. In fact it got very hard.  Confusing.  Unsettling. Discouraging.  

The reality settled in that even in the church people were still, well, people. Even in Christ sickness can take hold. Prayers can go unanswered. I thought I had left the pain behind in the world, but it was obvious I hadn’t. Not that I thought everything was going to be perfect, but my expectations were dashed. Fourteen years into my faith I became disillusioned. And I felt alone. 

The way it had been was the way I thought it would always be. Serve God, be good, and everything would be fine. Fireworks.

But God was not healing me, relationships were broken, and I felt as unwanted and rejected as I had in the world.

I prayed and I prayed hard. Where was Jesus? Who was He? Did He still love me? After years of thinking I knew Him, I suddenly wondered if I did.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the first works…”  Rev 2:4-5a

It didn’t happen overnight. It never does. It happens slowly, methodically. I never walked completely away, but I felt unloved so I let other things come and steal away my attention.  

The world does that effortlessly now. We give it away in smartphones and endless social media and television and video games and news and current events and we fill our lives with noise, noise, noise….

Within it all, we cannot hear the still, small voice of the Lord. And when communication breaks down, the relationship with Him, just like it would with our spouse, suffers.

The love I had at first – the excitement and passion – had waned.  I had let other things come in and crowd out the voice of my Jesus, the One who had loved me so much He died for me, called me, and changed me. The One who had come after me, plucked me out of the world and made me new.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want a relationship with Him.  I still loved Him.  I just got distracted. 

But Jesus tells us it doesn’t happen to us. We leave our first love. We walk away. We make choices, day by day, choices that are not just between good and bad, but choices that either take us closer to Christ or further away, and suddenly we look back and what once was, just isn’t.

They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. It’s that middle of the road…blah.

We may think that’s not all that bad, but in Revelation Jesus gave this warning to His church, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”  Rev. 3:15-16

An on-fire faith is best, and even a cold heart is preferable to lukewarm because we would recognize it and know we needed to turn back to the Lord.

But a lukewarm faith deceives us into thinking we’re okay.

It’s so-so, yeah. *Yawn* My faith doesn’t really inspire me to do anything, but it’s there, right? 

But that indifference lets in the world. It lets in sin, other beliefs, other avenues of decision-making, and lots of self. Self-works, self-righteousness, self, self, self.  

A lukewarm faith hurts our relationship with God, that affects the relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and then we begin to lose the witness we might have had to the people God has given us.

The good news is at any moment we can repent – change our minds – and do the things we did at first.  We can leave behind the things of the world, turn down the noise, re-establish communication with the Lord, receive His grace and mercy, (maybe run out and buy a Bible and a cross necklace) and love Him with the passion and excitement and fervor we once had.

I’ve taken steps toward that and eliminated a lot of the incoming noise of the world, and it’s made a huge difference in my ability to hear the Lord speaking to my heart.  

He wants to speak to all of us who are called by His name, and He has much to say. More than ever, we need to hear His voice for wisdom and discernment. We need His passion, and the world needs His love.

I am now almost 28 years into my journey with Christ. I’ve learned that God doesn’t answer every prayer, and He has good reason. He is pruning, disciplining, growing, and preparing the Bride for her Husband.  

I’ve learned I was never was alone; He was always with me and always will be. I’ve learned that if we let Him, He can use those crises of faith periods to cause us to dig deeper into His Word, into prayer, and bring us out the other side with a deeper, more substantial faith and closer relationship than ever before.

 

Heavenly Father, we want to be close to you, closer than ever before. Please take away our desire for those things that would come between us, things that would lead us away from you. Please give us hearts that are passionate for you, for our faith, for our desire to serve you, and make us useful to you. Thank you for what you’re going to do in our hearts and lives. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray, amen.