Last night, while reading some new state regulations for COVID there were rumbles in my heart, a gathering storm that signaled that I was not reacting rationally. My emotions were surging. Seems to me that many of us are ‘emoting’ rather than thinking these days, reacting instead of responding. Fear or anger, two common emotions in this time, do not shape the best responses in any of us, do they?
Are you emotional? While some people more readily allow themselves to feel and express emotions than others it is a fact that we ALL experience those ‘feelings’ we call – emotions. They are gifts from God that give us the abilities to know joy, to feel fear, to be happy, to grieve, to love though love is more than a feeling. Rich as they are, it is a grave mistake to allow emotions to rule. That said, let’s not go to the other extreme either, repressing or ignoring those feelings.
When we learn how to experience a rich emotional life we are richer, more human. And yet we know, or at least we should, that when our feelings are put in charge of our behavior, we are at risk of playing the fool. When motions rule, there is instability, a lack of productivity. We expect a toddler to plummet from giddy heights of laughter to stormy tumult of tears within 5 minutes. An adult who allows himself to be that volatile gives cause for concern!
So what’s my point today?
Let’s keep faith fixed on the Solid Rock, Christ Jesus,
who is greater than the state of our heart at any given moment!
Many Christians reduce their faith to an ‘experience,’ chasing a feeling, even judging the reality of their salvation by what emotions rule at the moment. We are not more ‘saved’ on those days when we feel serene, nor are we less loved by God when our inner life is in a tempest! I am a Pentecostal Christian who values personal experience because I believe that the Holy Spirit is present, active, and moving me.
My worship includes laughter and tears. In times of prayer it is not uncommon for me to become so full of emotion that it spills over in tears, is expressed with an outburst of loud praise, or even a hearty laugh! Jesus told us that we must “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:30, NIV) Our walk with the Lord is a combination of emotion and truth, of passion and discipline, of feeling and fact.
God’s love for us is not at the mercy of our emotions. He does not only love us when we have those warm and fuzzy feelings that come when we hear our favorite worship song or hymn. He is not more present if we find our heart broken and tearful when we pray. He is equally God – all the time – bad days and good ones.
He is still Lord when exhaustion steals our passion. He is Lord when anxiety about the future produces a temporary soul paralysis. The stress that accompanies COVID has complicated worshipful emotions for many of us. IF that is the case for you, acknowledge it and set your sights higher that the state of your heart. As the Word says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus!”
Let’s not let ourselves fall in love with a feeling. Choose to love the Truth! If we build our salvation on a special state of mind, on emotional well-being, it is a weak, sandy foundation. Our hope rests on the Solid Rock, Who gives us the unchanging promises of an eternal God, Who “does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1.17)
The word from the Word comes from the ancient revelation of the preacher, Zephaniah, who reminds the people of the Lord to trust the immutable Truth!
“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)
(A majestic hymn of worship.)
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible
Hid from our eyes;
Most blessed, most glorious,
The Ancient of Days;
Thy great name we praise.
And silent as light;
Nor wanting, nor wasting,
Thou rulest in might.
Thy justice, like mountains,
High soaring above;
Thy clouds, which are fountains
Of goodness and love.
To all, life Thou givest,
To both great and small;
In all, life Thou livest,
The true life of all;
We blossom and flourish
As leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish
But naught changeth Thee.
Great Father of glory,
Pure Father of light;
Thine angels adore Thee
All veiling their sight.
All praise we would render,
O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendor
Of light hideth Thee.
Smith, Walter Chalmers / Robert, John © Public Domain