But I Feel…

I can’t seem to say the words without closing my eyes. “But I feel” …like there is no good option.

Then, eyes opened too wide, I grope for words to justify the way I feel. I explain all of the reasons I’m stuck. As if I have to be convinced that my own conclusions are correct, I address each possibility.

It’s not just when I feel stuck. The words have a way of blinding my eyes and hiding my hope when I feel angry, sad, jealous, hurt, and even stubborn.

You too?

Fact: “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9 NIV.)

God created emotions, which means they are good. Yet the seat of our emotions lies to us. Scripture never tells us to follow our hearts, but to follow the Lord. He wants what’s best for us and has the ability to lead us in that best direction. Our feelings, persuasive as they are, are subject to sin.

Fact: Feelings fell with Adam and Eve.

Ever since the fall, feelings have fallen prone to the twisting of sin. That’s how verses like “be angry and do not sin” can exist (Eph 4:26 ESV.) It isn’t wrong to feel, but feelings often tempt us to sin. Our emotions often deceive us, which is what sin is all about.

Fact: Following feelings alone is like closing our eyes and wondering why it’s dark and we’re lost.

In the seriously beautiful, convicting words of Isaiah 59 (NIV,) God describes the darkness of separation from Him. He explains how sin hides His face from us and how “feeling our way” leaves us groping for guidance and security. He goes on to speak of us “uttering lies our hearts have conceived.”

Our emotions often deceive us, which is what sin is all about.

Fact: “But I feel,” followed by submission, is a wonderful way to surrender.

The Isaiah passage ends with God declaring His coming to redeem us; His salvation for those who repent. When we allow our feelings to shut our eyes to the truth and lead us into sin, we must repent. David, over and over again in the Psalms, exemplifies this.

How often David would go before the Lord lamenting, groaning, crying out, and even rejoicing. He came with all those emotions, and David confessed them to the maker of all. We find an example in the famous words of Psalm 139 (NIV):

“Search me, God, and know my heart…

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Would you submit to the Lord with me, asking Him to search your heart, even the “buts” and the “feels?” That He would open our eyes when our feelings want to shut them and lead us in His light, His way?

Fact: He knows our hearts even when our feelings hide our hope. He, our hope and peace, is with us still. Though our feelings might shake us, He does not move (Psalm 62:5 NIV.)

Praise Him!

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Outcomes We Trust

{The seventh installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Glad to welcome Lois from Waxing Gibbous back to the blog today. A former journalist, Lois has a gift for telling stories while gathering facts- all leading up to the truth of Jesus Christ. So blessed to know her and share her words!

Lois-web-photo11

Here’s the blunt truth. When Bethany introduced her “In ____ We Trust” series several weeks ago, I was intrigued and curious to see where she was going to go with the topic, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to apply to my daily life. I definitely have areas of spiritual struggle and plenty of room for improvement in many spots, but at the time, I was doing OK in the trust department.

Or so I thought.

In my world, one of the marks of a good blog post is when I finish reading and say to myself, “I never thought of it like that before.” With this series, that’s happened more than once.

Trusting in Google? Who would have thought? But yes, I do that. Trusting in medicine? For me, it’s more like trusting in health insurance, but yeah, check that box too. Acceptance? Let’s just skip that one, shall we? As I told Bethany in an email a few weeks back, with that post, she’s quit preaching and gone to meddling.

All kidding aside, even as I was finding much to relate to every week, I kept trying to articulate this one other thing that I often trust in besides God. Several weeks into the series, I still don’t have a catchy little title for it, but it has to do with happy endings and closure and desperately needing to know how things are going to turn out.

This is OK when it comes to reading the ends of books first (which I do, all the time) or checking the internet for spoilers when I’m taking a bathroom break during a movie (which I also do, sometimes).

In real life, though, it can be a serious problem.

There’s a certain way I feel—physically and emotionally—when I am waiting, in limbo or uncertain of an outcome. I’m more prone to irritability during those times. I’m readily anxious. My stomach sours and my sleep grows even more fitful than it normally is.

Then, when the question is answered, the wait ends or the outcome becomes evident—good or bad—calming waves of peace sweep over me. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. I just feel better.

Some of this is just part of being human, and some might be due to my personality.

But I think the lion’s share of this progression of feelings has to do with trusting in the outcome instead of the God of the outcome.

outcometrustfinal

Thankfully, I’m not powerless to stop it, and neither are you if you recognize this tendency in yourself.

There is a divine antidote that never fails to change my perspective and calm my anxious heart when I’m waiting for closure, and it is as familiar as it is life-changing.

Simply put, it involves praying the way Jesus prayed in the Garden the night before He was crucified. As you may recall, He asked God three times for another way, but He followed each request with that amazing statement of submission, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)

My husband and I learned the power of this prayer a couple of decades ago when we were struggling with infertility. We regularly told God of our desire for a child, but we always followed it with Jesus’ words, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

I’m not going to lie—this is a difficult way to pray. But back then, it was the only concrete way I found to relinquish my dreams and desires to God. It helped me loosen my grip on my desire to have a biological child AND vocalize my trust that my sovereign heavenly Father truly did know what was best for me.

As it turned out, God’s will in this situation was NOT what I desired originally. We never did conceive; instead, we adopted our two daughters from China.

And that entire experience—including the wonderful eventual outcome—paved the way for an increasing reliance on this prayer in many other areas of my life. From unexpected job losses and homes that took way too long to sell to concerns about aging parents and difficult medical issues, it’s been the only sure way I know to replace my anxiety about an uncertain outcome with quiet trust in God.

Not my will, but yours be done.

I don’t always think to do this right off the bat. Sometimes it takes me days—even weeks—to get there. But when I finally remember and start meditating on this prayer, something amazing happens.

My heart relaxes. The sourness leaves my stomach. Honestly, I’m just nicer to be around.

I still hate waiting. I still read the ends of books first. But, more and more, I’m learning to place my hope and trust in the Author of the ending instead of the ending itself.

God is sovereign. He is good. He loves me and knows what I need. Praying this prayer helps me remember that.

Not my will, but yours be done.

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Complete

Are you ready to rejoice in the freedom He offers us?

Are you ready to feel free from long to-do lists, insane expectations, and accomplishing everything there is to achieve?

I warn you: this might require a priority or perspective shift.

Here it is:

“And you have been made complete in Christ.” –Colossians 2:10

In this context, “to complete” is characterized as to “fill to individual capacity.”

Being complete is about being full.

You can’t be full if you have no parameters to fill. That whole “glass-half” question doesn’t work without a glass.

filled in him

Complete doesn’t mean perfect or finished. It isn’t determined by our schemes or dreams. Our “completion” is determined by our maker because He sets our capacity. He shaped our vessel. Purposefully, intentionally. And He fills it full.

His to-do list for you is complete when you’ve crossed off just the parts the Lord asks for, just like Dana wrote about in her post about lists earlier this week.

His expectations for you may not be as insane as your expectations for yourself are.

He calls you to accomplish some things, according to His plans. You don’t have to go beyond that.

Don’t worry about the size of your glass. Don’t chase after trophies with wider bowls. He has filled you full according to the capacities He has given you.

Another way to phrase the definition is that what capacities He has given you He has met. To the extent that you need, He has fulfilled, if not exceeded.

You, today, being in the hands of the one shaping, pouring out, and filling up again, are complete. Because He is filling you so perfectly, there is nothing missing, not a single drop, that you really need.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Listening Through the Static

I drove past that familiar gnarled tree, and the yellow house I like. Approaching  that long stoplight, I slowed to a stop. It’s a road I know. A drive I make daily. I try to get near to the Lord on the trip. To help me tune in, I’ve usually got a CD and two preset Christian stations.

One station is based 78 miles away. It’s rare to hear anything but static. But that morning, I forgot a CD. The other station had commercials. So I tuned in anyway.

The scratchy noises and competing voices blaring through the speakers echoed in me. But a few words I knew came through-

I’ll stop living off of how I feel…”

“tatat, froo, Ohah, today’s stats, mrrr…” competing voices, again, blared in.

But I knew the rest of the words. I love those words. So I sang along anyway.

And start standing on Your truth revealed.

Isn’t that life? If you’re anything like me, your head is full of competing voices and songs. We’ve got static in the form of distractions, worries, to-do lists, conversations on replay. Life is crazy busy and our hearts have tons and tons to sort out. So much of our time is spent trying to piece it all together until something makes sense.

We live in static. We feel that we live in the midst of the chaos, lost in the noise. But we know the Word of truth.

We can live it and sing it through all that tries to drown out our hope and our peace.

Scripture encourages us:

Fix your eyes.” Listen, because:

his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger” (John 10:4-5.)

Sometimes, it’s better not to change the station in life for a clearer, more upbeat song. The static will always be there. The distractions will always beckon and call. We aren’t just to look to Christ when there is nothing else to see, or listen only when the others voices are hushed.

See through the mess, listen through the noise: He is here. His truth is clear. It does not change. Keep singing along.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

You Were Right!…Or Were You?

Photo from: pixabay

3 words everybody loves to hear: “you were right.”

We like to be right. Many of us try to do the right thing. In fact, our desire to be “right” is so strong and deep that we have opened its meaning up to include ideas like:

  • Do whatever feels right
  • Do whatever seems right
  • Do what is right for me might be wrong for you
  • Do the right kind of wrong

So warped is our idea of righteousness (the word which “right” is the root of) that we can live blissfully ignorant that our idea of right is absolutely wrong. This isn’t just a secular issue eluding functional logic and philosophy.

In our Christian circles, we’ve become deadset on “right” and “wrong.”

Churches divide over “right” and “wrong” decisions, big and small. Marriages end when one person is right and the other wrong. We examine Scripture to determine what we feel is right. In prayer, we sense what is “right” in our hearts. As we listen to and encourage our spouses and loved ones, we make determinations about what is “right” and push for it.

For many of us, pursuing righteousness encroaches on sin. We try to be right in order to:

  • Assuage our fears
  • Earn a good name
  • Prove ourselves trustworthy
  • Make ourselves wise
  • Build up our pride
  • Guide others
  • Get to where we want to be

In all of these things, the goal of being right is ultimately about us. Ourselves, our loved ones, our futures. But righteousness only exists in relation to God. There is no such thing as truly being “right” apart from Him.

Psalm 16:2 tells us that “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

When we separate being right from pleasing God, we diminish the purpose of being right in the first place. We place our goals in the sin of self and this world instead of glorifying Him. As a result, being “right” is no longer a good thing –or a righteous thing.

Instead of seeing righteous as a part of following and glorifying the Lord, our twisted concept of righteousness is reward-based.

We “save ourselves for marriage” because it’s right…because it leads to healthier relationship and whatever other reasoning we’ve been told. We submit to our husbands because it’s right…because of the benefits and the way it makes him feel. We serve others on missions trips because it’s right…AND because we’ve heard so many times that when it’s over, WE are the ones blessed.

It’s not wrong to receive blessings from the Lord, even as rewards. All good gifts do come from God.

But sometimes our idea of being “right” is a lot like the idea of the kid who shapes up right before Christmas so that Santa will think he is “good.” That’s not righteousness.

Hear and recall the words of Romans 3:

“This RIGHTEOUSNESS is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

and all are JUSTIFIED FREELY by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Righteousness is all about our standing with God. It has nothing to do with works, but rather the position of the heart. Regarding our eternal relationship with God, we are saved. Sealed. Guaranteed because of the grace of Christ.

In regards to our relationship with the Lord right now on earth, we are to be:

filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11.)

When we want to be right or try to be or do right, we must stop to remember why it matters at all.

Remember that being right is all about the glory and the praise of God. Is an eternity of close relationship with Him, praising Him, not our reward in heaven? Let it be our reward on earth, too. Be right by Him, and righteousness won’t be  so selfish after all. 

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday #Faith-Filled Friday, and #DanceWithJesus.