It is comparatively easy to begin a race and to go after it with plenty of zeal. After all, there is the initial excitement and nothing to distract you or discourage you since it is just getting under way. You are rested and prepared and looking forward to good things. You can see yourself crossing the finish line victoriously and you are committed to seeing it through.
But then, things can happen on the way to the finish line; you could get tired or maybe distracted by what other runners are or are not doing, you could get tripped up and maybe even stumble and fall. Perhaps questions start coming up in your mind about why you even chose to run this race in the first place. The end result is, little by little, you begin to lose sight of what it’s all about. It is possible that, as life goes on day by day, you could go through phases where that enthusiasm wanes just a bit.
Jesus put it another way when He was addressing the church of Ephesus in the second chapter of the Revelation: He admonished them for leaving their first love. That zeal they had when they first accepted Jesus as their Lord, that holy fire that burned within them was no longer like it was at first.
You would think this was a word to a group that had really cooled off with the Lord, except when you see all of the positive things Jesus said about this church. He talks about their work, their labor, their patience, their discernment, their perseverance, even their endurance. That sounds like quite a group of believers; what could possibly be lacking? Just this one thing, Jesus says: “You have left your first love.”
Jesus came that you might have life, not just enduring and making it through to the end, but abundant life. And what are some of the main ingredients we find in abundant life? Jesus said we must become as a little child — consider their exuberance even with the little things of everyday life, their excitement and anticipation for every little bit of life. They have that fire within them. It would be easy to chalk it up to their lack of experience and lack of knowledge concerning this world; how cruel and full of pain it can be.
Actually, it’s not a lack of knowledge of evil that gives children such a zest for life, for God never intended that we would have the knowledge of evil; that came with the eating of the forbidden fruit! No, the key is not in what children don’t know, it’s in Who they do know. They know (although they may not be able to put it into words) that they have a Father who loves them and that this world is His. They love and laugh with abandon because they have within them the fire of God. Always keep that fire burning within you!