Emotions… are presently my close companions, coming from my wounded heart, that still bleeds. Since Bev’s death sorrow has been just a smell, a song, a memory away. But, truthfully, so is joy. I look out this morning over the beautiful green of my little acre, dappled with bright sunny spots, and feel a sense of peace. I know that peace may be fleeting, that in a moment, my eyes may be wet with tears. Sometimes fear comes to visit, as do feelings of hope, and so it goes. But, I am not ruled by those emotions. They enrich my life, but they are not in charge. Life is wonderful when the feelings I have align with the facts of the world I live in. Maturity teaches me that I can choose to override my feelings, that Christ in me gives me strength to say “Yes,” to things that my heart resists!
Is your faith totally dependent on feelings?
Do you pray only when you are in a certain state of mind?
Do you somehow think that your relationship with the Lord is directly tied to the chemicals that ebb and flow inside your cranium?
Such a flimsy foundation is insufficient for Christian faith! Eugene Peterson, one of my favorite authors, writes: “My feelings tell me next to nothing about God or my relationship to Him. My security comes from who God is, not from how I feel. Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not by what I feel about Him or myself or my neighbors.” (A Long Obedience)
David, the Psalmist, who knew something of stormy, sometimes out of control emotions, speaks to himself – “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:5-8, NIV) Rock, fortress, refuge! Those are strong words, expressing faith that is not here today and gone under the stress that comes tomorrow!
Those who enjoy a deep and life-governing love of Christ are those who choose daily to practice the disciplines that open both their heart and their mind to the Truth of God and the work of the Spirit. There are days when Self is screaming like a toddler throwing a tantrum, emotions at full throttle, when saying “yes” to God’s ways is incredibly difficult. That is one reason that before the testing comes, we need to set God above all other parts of our lives – higher than family, higher than demands at work, higher than our desires, higher than our emotions. We guard our heart from the fickle emotions that would rule it by faithfully opening the Scripture, by committing ourselves to worship in the Body of Christ and in the privacy of our home, by faithfully offering prayers, and by investing time to meditate where we can listen for the Spirit’s voice.
“Jerry, that sounds like duty.” So, is that a problem? There is nothing wrong with things done because they are the right things to do. Mature people know how to choose to deny the impulse to be selfish or sinful, and they make the choice sometimes more from duty than delight. Truth will guide us past the shoals of our own emotions in such times. If we only walk with God when our heart is stirred by good feelings, our discipleship will be shallow, our lives without any evidence of spiritual life.
The paradox is this: the person who consistently makes the choice to do what God desires of him –regardless of his feelings– almost certainly will develop a deeper, richer intimacy with God over time! He learns what it means to `walk with God’ and knows that He is equally present in the dark valley and the mountaintop. It is like the person who moves past infatuation to make the covenant pledge of marriage. His choice for commitment lays a foundation for discovery of a deeper relationship, one he could never find in a series of relationships based only on attraction.
Disciple, exercise the God-given ability to choose! Don’t float with the current. You’ll drift away from God, never to Him. Don’t walk with the crowd. They will never lead you to the King of Glory! Take Joshua’s challenge – “Choose today whom you will serve!”
Here’s the word from the Word.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other.
None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.
Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:15-17, The Message)
He’s my Rock, my Sword, my Shield!
He’s my Wheel in the middle of the wheel!
He’s my Lily of the Valley,
He’s my Bright and Morning Star!
Makes no difference what you say,
I’m going on my knees and pray,
I’m gonna wait right here for Jesus `till He comes.
– Public domain