Friday, February 24, 2012

I've Gotta Feelin'.

I am here on behalf of feelings. We live in a world of extremes, where polar opposites reign with no in-betweens, pitting feelings against rationality/logic/"the mind" in a battle to the death (...okay, near death). And in our society, rationality usually wins. Or at least, it tends to take precedence.

I have, on many occasions, heard feelings dismissed, or downplayed, when it comes to our relationship with God. Don't get me wrong here. I am NOT saying we should only follow God when we feel like it. I'm not saying we should trust every feeling that comes to us. I'm not saying that when the feelings are absent, God is, too.

What I am saying is that feelings are important, and if we act like they don't matter, we risk reducing God to a theological concept that we can understand (a teensy bit) on an intellectual level, but never really know.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. In other words, with every part of who we are--and that includes our feelings. We should overflow with happiness when we think of Him. He should stir our hearts to wonder. We should get excited to spend time with Him.

No, we can't force these feelings into being. But if we start truly seeking God and resting in His Presence, the feelings will come. Because He is the One we were made for; and when He is near, our hearts recognize it and begin to beat faster. During the times when He feels distant, remember His goodness in the past. Talk to Him. Think about Him. Read about Him. Listen for His voice. Sing to Him. The feelings may not come all at once; they may remain only for an instant. Don't give up. Keep seeking--not for the feelings themselves, but for the God you love. And the feelings will come. He's too beautiful for anything else. When our eyes are on Him, there is joy, and peace, and awe.

A relationship with God based purely on emotion is unhealthy, but that doesn't mean that emotional experiences with God are wrong. On the contrary, they are essential. Because it's those times, those times that I can't explain with words, with any kind of logic, those times when I have felt Him and known He is God--those are the times that stick with me in the deserts. When I don't have the strength to fight for the feelings. I remember the times when I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and I am infused with confidence that there are better things in store for me.

In other words: my experiences with God have meant so much more to me than my knowledge about Him.

Don't settle for anything less than loving God with your whole self. He gave us emotions for a reason. We have them because our Father does. In case you haven't noticed (and I sincerely hope you have), we serve a passionate God. If our emotions don't align with His, we shouldn't ignore them; we should ask for a heart change. We should seek a deeper encounter with His Spirit.

Yes, it's messy, as all relationships are. Emotions are sticky and gooey and impossible to sort out. It's a lot easier to simply read words on a page and try to follow all the rules. But God wants all of us, even our fickle, deceitful, bleeding hearts. He wants to tune them, transforming them into instruments of joy, slowing or stirring their beats to the rhythm of His own. For when they are in the hands of our Creator, our feelings, too, will be restored, made into something marvelous, something we won't even believe.

1 comment:

  1. A way my friend Shannon has related this is with marriage. Say a husband and wife are together. When they first form their relationship, they may get the lovely butterflies just from thinking about each other. When they touch hands, they get goosebumps. After years of being married, they don't always get that chicken skin, or those insects.
    That doesn't mean that they don't love each other anymore though. They may get them less often, but the love is still present. Love is a commitment. When there are a ton of dirty dishes, and one spouse decides to wash them all, because they love the other, they may not feel that joyful love feeling, but they can still wash them because of that love. Just like reading God's Word. To me, it's not always as exciting as it should be, but it can still be done out of love. I know that we can pray for the lovey dovey feelings for our loved ones to return, to reignite, just like our feelings for God. God will give us the desires of our hearts, when they line up with His.
    A song we pray in church goes, "When I can't see you, I know You're there. When I can't feel You, I will not fear. I will trust in You and I will not be afraid."
    I like it because sometimes, we don't always feel God, even though He's always there/here. We have to trust/believe/have faith that He is.