As I write, Christmas is a fading memory. February is when ladies wonder what their man will get them for Valentine's Day, while, on February 13, men wonder what they're going to get their lady. The stress of one holiday has given way to the anxiety of another.
Listening to Christmas music after the actual holiday is like drinking flat soda. The decorations seem as stale as the leftover cookies. The tree is shedding little things that have dried to the point where you now realize why they're called "needles."
Not only holiday sentiments and Get Well balloons and Mountain Dew get flat; life can lose its sparkle and fizz as well.
All of life rarely loses its flavor; usually some aspect of life drags the rest down. A boring job can wilt the other third of your life that you spend awake. A sparkling marriage that has sat opened too long can turn to vinegar. The high spots of a life of faith can be eroded by harsh winds of adversity, becoming a desert waste. When a cloth has faded or a cookie has crumbled, there is nothing that can be done to restore it. However, a fizzled life can be restored to effervescence, just as a wilted plant can be nursed back to vitality. When we are weary, the Bible promises, "We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).
The key to a zest for life is love. A house filled with love can shelter the home from boredom. A marriage that has been open to the stresses and disappointments of life can leak love like a cheap balloon until it's empty. A commitment to love one another will seal that leak and keep the love inside the marriage. The ability to truly love takes root in the soil of God's love and is nourished thereby.
John gives the source of love: "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Because God loves us, we can love. His love is uniquely higher and more benevolent than any love we can muster. His love is inexhaustible and free to all. Without it, there is little strength to endure hardships and no possibility of ultimate salvation. "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22, 23).
The perfect Valentine's Day card says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). This is the declaration of the most perfect, most unselfish love. Jesus used this love as the example to follow: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
We choose a job, spouse, house, or lifestyle because we love him or her or it. That love can lose its vitality and dry up. This was the case with the church at Ephesus. They went through the motions and looked good; however, the Lord of the Church said, "I have this against you, that you have left your first love" (Revelation 2:4). Christ wanted their love, not just their deeds. His remedy: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works" (v. 5). To restore love, we need to get back to the place where the seeds of love were first sown.
If life seems dull and the tinsel is falling off its branches, think back to what made life interesting in the first place. What did you like about your job? What attracted you to your spouse, friend, house, or hobby? Relationships require work to thrive and prosper. Just as plants are happy under conditions that need to be maintained (soil, light, water, air, food), our lives need to be properly cared for. Return to the first works, the acts and thoughts that first bore the fruit of love. Above all, make sure "that Christ . . . dwell[s] in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and heightto know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:1719).