When was the last time you used a brand new towel, not just a freshly laundered one but one that has never been used? Jay and I registered for bath linens for our wedding, almost 18 years ago. Last fall I started finding some holes in the washcloths. Upon closer inspection I noticed just how thin the washcloths had gotten and how frayed the towels were becoming. The time had come to refresh our bath linens.
Since I didn’t want to go cheap, I knew I couldn’t replace everything all at the same time. So I’ve been doing a couple towels or washcloths a month, taking advantage of sales and coupons. Fast forward to me using some of the new linens today. Ah, the fullness of a new washcloth and the softness of a new towel! I’ll pause here and say if you are reading this and are younger than, oh, 25 you probably don’t understand how a new washcloth and towel can be a highlight. Trust me when I say the little things will begin to mean more the older you get. 😆 Anyways…I started thinking how we become blind to the worn-out things in our lives, in general and with Christ.
We experience something new for the first time, like a job or a recipe or our new faith or a relationship or a TV show or an exercise routine or a car or…you get the idea. It is so wonderful and you go on enjoying it, forming routines and habits whether you realize it or not. Then comes the day you notice a hole or how thin it has gotten. The chicken scampi has lost its taste and doesn’t bring you that same yumminess. You spend more time browsing on your phone during that TV show than actually watching it. You’ve gotten bored with your pilates class and so has your body. That car you were so excited about is now an afterthought. The relationship with that one person who knew you better than anyone has totally been taken for granted and you realize that maybe you’ve dropped the ball in caring for them. Your excitement for reading the Bible or praying has totally tapered off. In fact, you can’t remember when you last opened your Bible or said more than “God, thank you for this food.” Your most recent mountaintop experience with Jesus is now just a faint memory.
I don’t know about you but I can think of a lot of times when that has happened to me. It then makes me sad. What happened? Where did I go wrong? How can I get the newness back and what will it cost me? Some answers are obvious. Try new recipes or a variation on a favorite. Read a book or find a new show instead of watching that favorite one. Try a different pilates teacher or a new form of exercise. Other situations will require more thought and more intentionality. Your car? Think to when you didn’t have one or one that was reliable and remember what a blessing it is to have your current car. In a similar manner, step back and look at that relationship. Remind yourself why that person is a blessing to you. Do you need to apologize for taking them for granted? Be intentional about making time for them in a way that speaks love into their life.
As for your spiritual life, think of it like my new towels. First, open your eyes to see where the quality of your relationship with Jesus has declined. Jesus never stepped away or took you for granted. Unfortunately, it is the other way around. Look, that accountability finger is pointed just as much at me as it is at you. There have been times I’ve totally taken my relationship with Jesus for granted, offered stale and not heartfelt prayers, and not made time in His Word a priority. The results, for me, have been a more frantic life, letting stress get to me, not taking time for self-care, having a more worldly outlook or response that just doesn’t bring me peace. In short, I feel thin and worn-out, just like my towels. I stop and think, “Why am I feeling this way? What has happened?” I have found that in most instances I’d quit making time for Jesus, taken for granted the importance of our relationship, and didn’t put Him first. Acknowledgement must come first.
Second, rejoice in the fact that you can breathe new life into your relationship with Jesus this very minute. You don’t have to wait until you can afford to pay for it like waiting to afford new towels. He’s paid the only price that really matters, with His life because of His love for us. Breathing new life into that relationship always looks the same for me. Once I acknowledge and repent my neglect I become intentional in my time with Him, both in prayer and in reading His Word. It is tremendously comforting knowing He has been there anytime and every time I’ve looked for Him. So what are you waiting for? Join me in grabbing the welcoming, comforting arms of Jesus and be refreshed every day!
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’ ” Jeremiah 29:11-14a