Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Long and Winding Road - Truth vs. Feelings

If you’ve been with me and my little blog for very long, you know that I’ve spoken of my life as a “long and winding road.” There have been many curves, steep mountains, (more climbing than sliding down) and dark, lonely country backroads. Most of what I’ve shared has been about the last six years of my life that began with a rude interruption of defiant bodily functions gone haywire and the ensuing uphill battle to not only find the shut-off switch, but also the struggle to adjust my life according to the demands of pain and fatigue and maintain some sense of sanity in the process. It hasn’t been easy.

But God’s been with me, giving me markers of direction every so often along the way. He began by telling me to “be strong and courageous” before the trial even began. He told me that He was my Bright Morning Star. And a number of months ago He began to tell me to “wait quietly.” I felt an air of anticipation along with this instruction. More about this in a moment.

And throughout this time, God’s given me words of refreshing encouragement through His own Word, through devotions, through friends, through music, and through the prayers of the saints – all of which I am extremely grateful.

I know God’s taught me much and has transformed my faith in ways I probably I can’t even comprehend yet. But I think one of the main things I’ve learned is the difference between a feeling - an emotion - and the presence of God in my life.

God and the circumstances of my life have made me a very emotional person. For that, in itself, I don’t apologize. That God-bestowed quality has given me the ability to have empathy and compassion and those characteristics have given me the desire to help others in need. What I have incorrectly done is confused the difficult circumstances of my life and the painful and sometimes lonely feelings that go along with them with a false idea that God is somehow absent in my life or His love for me has waned.

The other side of that coin of sensibilities is to falsely believe that if our emotions are good – we’re feeling happy and everything seems to be going right – that that automatically means our relationship with God must be right.

Our feelings are no indication of the presence of God and of His very constant, unfailing love for us. Feelings will be swayed by a myriad of things – lack of sleep, pain, hormones, chemicals in the brain, incorrect perspective based on a difficult childhood, not spending enough time doused in the truth of God’s Word or seeking the Truth-Giver in prayer in order to dispel the lies. But we have to know that no matter what our emotions tell us, the truth is that God will never leave us nor forsake us.

And it seems that was the notion that God has set out to dispel in my mind. Living through this constant and sometimes deeply depressing trial has forced me to learn to trust God even when I don’t feel Him there. The truth is, He is there, no matter what I feel and no matter what is going on in my life.

God’s Word is full of people who faced some of the most depressing circumstances there could be. My dear Job comes to mind, as does the pre-king, cave-dwelling David. And yet God was with them from the beginning to the end, the feelings of His children notwithstanding.

And then there were those who felt confident in their circumstances - I think of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 - whose feelings couldn’t have lied to them more about their standing with the Lord.

Instead of trusting in our feelings, we have to learn to trust in the truth of God’s Word instead. God says that He is near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). If He says it, it’s true. God says that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). If He says it, it’s true. God says that any of us who are weary should come to Him and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28). If He says it, it’s true.

Never mistake your circumstances, or the circumstances of another, and the feelings that go along with them, with the presence or absence of God. The question is not what do our feelings tell us, but rather how are we participating in keeping alive a walking, talking, breathing, working, loving relationship with our Lord?

Just as an earthly marriage needs both partners working together to keep the relationship healthy, so we need to do our part in order to keep a healthy relationship with our Heavenly Husband, Jesus Christ. Do the work needed to be in right relationship with your Savior. Talk to Him daily, even “momently.” He’s always listening. Read His Word. He’s always speaking. Repent of your sins often. He’s always forgiving. When the love we have for Christ abounds, those things aren’t something we have to do, but something we are privileged to do.

And now about my instruction to “wait quietly.” As I said, I felt an air of anticipation along with that instruction, as if the Lord was saying, “Hold on. I have something in store for you.” And now He’s brought me on my journey to a particular bend in this long and winding road that I now face. I don’t know how sharp the turn will be insomuch as how much of an answer it will be to all the prayers lifted up regarding the physical part of this trial of the last six years.

After countless doctors and even more tests, one thing has recently been decided: a cyst that’s pressing on my spinal cord will have to be removed this week. I found out about the surgery only a couple of weeks ago and it’s a surgery that will most likely have me laid up for the better part of a month. So I’ve been running around doing all the things a mom has to do in situations like this, which is the reason for my lack of blogging. So I’m guessing it’ll be at least two or three weeks before you see me back on here again, unless I can figure out how to prop a laptop on its side and type that way.

So. We’ll see what the Lord will do! Whatever it is, I pray my trust will be securely set on the Lord Who loves me with an everlasting love.

See you soon. Be good to each other!

God bless,

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Thanks for sharing!