Sunday, August 15, 2010

Emotions: a personal example

I’ve had experiences where my feelings have conflicted with what I know I should do. And if I was to boil those down to one thing I’ve learned each time, I’d have to say it would be trusting that God’s way is best. It’s not wrong to be disappointed if something doesn’t go the way we expected, or to be saddened by a circumstance we’ve been confronted with. But no matter what the circumstance, we should not allow our feelings to turn to anger or bitterness, but must trust that God’s ways are higher than our ways. We have to turn those thoughts and natural inclinations to God, asking for His power to have a response that would honor Him.

The truth is that we don’t see the big picture. When my dad first informed me that we were going to start the church we’re presently at, I was resistant. We had only been in that city for about 8 months. The church my dad had started wasn’t growing, and dad was considering moving again because there were families wanting the type of church we were trying to start. I had a difficult time learning to trust God, but I remember that every time I would question “Why?” God would lovingly remind me that His ways were not my ways. Ahh…what a sweet truth.

If everything went the way I desired it would be doomed for failure and disappointment. But because God knows better than I, I can learn to trust that no matter what circumstance He allows, it’s for His glory and my refining. Romans 8:28 says that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God sees and knows all things, and He alone can determine what is best for us. Even if it involves unexpected circumstances, changed plans or even tragedy, God uses those for our good.

As I look back now, I can’t believe I ever questioned God’s plan for my family. While at first I didn’t want to move or start a new church, now I can’t imagine being anywhere else, and am so abundantly thankful that God has placed us here. What I initially saw as something negative, God has proven to be a huge blessing.

I share my story because no matter what you’re facing, I want to encourage you to trust that God’s way is perfect. If God were to give us a glimpse of what the future would look like in correlation to whatever we have to face or endure right now, I think we would be amazed at how perfectly flawless God’s plan was. I think we would be ashamed that we ever questioned why or even asked God to do things our way. I’m so grateful that God has been gracious to me even when I’ve thought my plan was better and wanted Him to accept MY goals and plans.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Emotions, Emotions

Naturally, we want to trust our feelings. We think we know what’s best, especially if we have the facts and believe our conclusion will work the best for everyone…or at least us. And our culture constantly encourages us to trust ourselves. Watch any Disney movie and it will be immersed in that me-centered theology.

In an old blog post following an experience of failing a test, I wrote: “I was prompted again to praise God, despite my feelings that conflicted.”  Funny as it seems, rereading something I wrote reminded me of how we can’t make decisions based on emotions or feelings, and how we have to rely on unchanging truth, not fluctuating emotion. At that moment I didn’t have an overwhelming emotional response that made me want to praise God. Quite the contrary, my feelings were telling me “NO!” because it didn’t seem like my circumstance was worthy of praising God. God didn’t follow my plans and answer my prayers in the way I expected. According to my rationalization, passing a test the first time was the most efficient way to accomplish things, and of course I understand and know what’s best for my life, right?

I only imagine that I do.

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” This verse is an apt reminder of how my feelings are not to be the source of decisions, because they are not trustworthy. You are never advised or commanded in Scripture to “follow your heart” or “do what you think is right”. In fact, you find the exact opposite. Isaiah 55:8 states “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” Making decisions based on what we feel is right is a very dangerous thing, because we become the source of truth—we make ourselves God.

So the next time you talk to someone, you respond to a circumstance you’re facing, or whatever else, ask yourself: Is my response based on what I’m feeling—my emotions—or is my response based on the truth I find in God’s Word, despite how I feel? Immersing ourselves in truth and changing our emotion-filled reactions to truth-saturated responses will not only change the way we think of things, but also affect others.