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Here's a video of Five Iron Frenzy's "Every New Day" from their last show ever. In my Jacksonville recording, Reese Roper gives a great explanation of the song before they perform it; and afterwards everyone sings "I Love You Lord" and "As the Deer Panteth for the Water." Then, people in the crowd began to pray for FIF.
As I listened to the recording, I was taken back to that part of my life, feeling truly blessed to be a part of such a thing. Five Iron Frenzy was, to some, a silly ska band; but to many, it was a movement, bringing hope to a generation of kids that otherwise would have little to hope for. I prayed, and still pray, that I can be a part of a movement like that creatively, bringing Christ's hope to kids of this generation.
While revisiting this era of my life, I was also reminded (and convicted) of my attitudes towards life and God at the time. Back then, God was everything to me and I found God in everything. An example is from when I used to play in a wildly (mildly) successful punk band, Minus the Standard. I wrote several songs in the band and so many of them were about God. Even the songs about girls or skateboarding found some inkling of God in them, usually the hope that He had a girl for me out there, despite my then present conditions of loneliness when it came to the ladies.
My heart was so focused on seeking God and all He had for me, as well as bringing this hope to others. Naturally, my next thought was, "why doesn't that describe me now?"
Not that I don't love God and chase after Him...I still do to this day. But somehow, a certain fervor, excitement and single-mindedness is absent from my pursuit that was present in my younger days. You could call it maturity, and that would probably be the correct word for it, but there is still something missing. It is here that I find a parallel in the cultural sense of maturity we have today.
Remember when you were younger and everything was possible? There's a reason the children's world of Disney is so magical -- because that's the way kids think and believe and dream. Then, somewhere along the way, dreams fade as reality sets in. You can't do the things you used to want to, because they are not practical. You grow up, get serious, and settle for what life has to offer you. This is the model we follow as a generation, and in a lot of cases, there is nothing wrong with this. Responsibility is important and sometimes life makes you hunker down and do what you have to do to survive. However, does that mean the spark of the dreamer you once were should disappear?
As I compare this memory of my past spiritual fervor to the cultural experience of losing our own fervor for dreams and ambitions, I can't help but wonder if there is a connection.
Jesus chided the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write...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.
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."
Is that not too different from my own experience? Sure, I've matured, worked for the Kingdom, grown in knowledge and faith; but how far have I fallen? Where is the love and excitement I had at the beginning? Is it even possible to get it back?
I've been learning lately that the are spiritual parallels in things that do not seem inherently spiritual, which is what lead me to make this connection between a brand new faith and our youthful dreams. Both losses are tragic, although the spiritual loss is far more so. However, both should be duly noted and dealt with.
Perhaps the solution to one can also be the solution to the other. We lost our dreams when he lost a hope for a brighter future. In the same way, when we lose sight of heavenly rewards, maybe this is when we lose our spiritual fervor.
Although, Jesus here says to remember the love we had at first. Maybe a better parallel here is found in love relationships, as in the fading "honeymoon" stage that almost always disappears as a relationship progresses. The consolation is that you move past it to find a deeper love, although I hear it is always a good idea to remember the spark and reignite it every once in a while with various acts of love, usually spontaneous.
These are all just ideas and parallels that might give a better understanding of Jesus' words to remember and return to our first love. Reversing them can also provide insight into the less-spiritual aspects of our lives, which is an awesome aspect of God (and one of the things I want to maintain that seems lost): the truth of God can be found in everything.
With God being everything and found in everything, I want Him to become so real in my life that I cannot help but write songs about Him; and even the songs that are about other things, I want to have glimpses of God in them. I don't want to be too busy for God to lose His reality in my life and I also don't want to hide God in the subtleties of my expression.