Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Even if Your Heart Isn't in It

There are things that disturb our lives- such as mice living in our walls- that are needlessly there. We have authority over certain realms: our home, our physical bodies, our thoughts. Yet we allow certain things to exist in our lives that do nothing but trouble and unsettle us- and we do nothing about their removal. Maybe because we don't "feel like it".

Then there are other realms where supposedly "God reigns" because we declare it to be so, and yet we climb in the driver's seat, rev it up a notch, and off we go- our agenda at the wheel, ourselves in control, and in danger of ruining our lives.

I've had several conversations with different people over the last couple weeks where the issue of what we want to do "to take charge" has come up. And what we often want to do is look good, and sound good, even as we're doing something "not good."

One person I know is deliberately pursuing something out of the will of God and yet desperately trying to find some scriptural back-up to support her as she goes driving off, pursuing her own wayward agenda.

"I just don't feel like doing it anymore, " she said to me, regarding the "right" path she had been on.

"So what? God doesn't care what you feel like when you're pursuing something against His will," I said. (Lovely affirming counselor, aren't I?!)

The interesting thing is, my next topic for my Women's LIFE workshops is all about emotions. I'll address how God wants us to bring all our feelings to Him, wants us to sort through and sift through- with HIS help- what we feel- because it matters to Him what we feel.

But while it matters what we feel, it's not an excuse,to God, as to why we do what we do. If I don't "feel like" telling the truth, God doesn't excuse me from the task of honesty just because I don't feel like it. God doesn't care that "your heart isn't in it"- He cares that you obey. Yes, for some of us, we may have to even do it kicking and screaming and God will be pleased- that we did it.

Our pediatrician has known my two kids since Abby was one year old. Alex is my strong silent warrior. He has had his back covered in 30+ needles- twice- for allergy testing, and then for years, 4 shots weekly. He accepted it all quietly and with a stoic look. Abby, on the other hand- and much to my pediatrician's delight- is another story. Abby's doctor had to call in three nurses to hold her down as she kicked and screamed, just to get one little vaccination done. Every time. For several years. And he'd say, "That's my girl!" and look at her with such pride. Was he nuts? I realize now he was proud of her fighter spirit- but, regardless, he was going to make her conform to what was good for her (the vaccination) even if she didn't feel like it. He knew some day she'd be glad she did. So he ignored her fury and her outcry.

Yet there's such a thing as holy fervor. A fervent passionate faith expressed in zeal and fervor that almost looks like you're doing something out of feelings alone. But something- Someone- bigger than you is behind that fervent expression.

Fervor is an intensity of feeling or expression. I think that holy fervor is God's passionate heart towards something expressed through us- and THAT is Someone's feelings that I SHOULD care about! It isn't just the thoughts of God, the plans of God, that we should be thrilled He thinks toward us (Jer.29:11). It's His Zealous heart beat for something that I want to agree with.

I think that's why, lately, I have not minded getting lovingly rebuked (which is a nice way of saying someone is passionately saying "you're wrong, you blockhead!"). I can be "thick" about something, self-sabotaging or negligent in doing my part to carry out what God has called me to. I can be pig headed and belligerent- and I'm not getting away with it, thank God.

But I also will challenge others to the truth of the integrity and counsel of God's Word- not the nice soothing current counsel of "you get to "feel good and still 'do' bad and it will all come out in the wash."

No, when you mix a good plan- from God- and a bad, stubborn course you set out upon, you get the murky, muddy brown mess of a....mess.

Some worry that they will not get a slap on the wrist from God when they're going wayward, and that maybe it will take a horrible calamity to get their attention and so they continually try to convict themselves over every little thing to avoid the vengeance of God. I should know- I spent years doing this when I was in my teens.

But God is perfectly capable of getting through to you- if you want to be spoken to. If you really want to know the truth that sets you free. If you search for Him, you WILL find Him- and His plan for you, His correction, if needed, His warning. How can you assure yourself of hearing Him?

Every time He speaks, answer Him with "Here I am" -even if you're in the middle of stealing cookies, committing adultery or walking inadvertently into the enemy's trap. If the whisper of God comes- the conviction, the knowledge that you KNOW you're doing the wrong thing- agree with Him . Agree with Him even as you are caught in that sin. (He saw it all. He can handle what you did- but you can't handle what you did if you don't receive correction, make a change of mind and heart, turn around, go the other way, close the door behind you and don't look back).

Let God disturb your false sense of peace. It's a blessing you'll come to realize, later.

When the finger of God touches that pulse point of pain and impurity- accept it. Nod your head in agreement, climb out of the driver's seat, and ignore the protest of your feelings at that very moment.

Instead, embrace the fervor and jealousy God has for the things of His heart to be at work in you. Let it all come to a head in your life. Get passionate about what He feels about you, wants for you. It's love that doesn't exactly feel so good, at that moment. But it's a time of glorious gain.

Later, it's seen as the harvest you almost lost-if you had gone with your feelings. But you responded to Him, nevertheless, to what He thought and planned for you. You responded to His correction, valuing Him over your feelings.

It'll be a harvest you'll later rejoice over ....with holy fervor. And those are feelings - a passionate conviction maybe expressed in shouts of joy- that you don't want to ignore.


SuzyQ said...

I love this post so much. Sometimes I think we are put through times of testing even when we endeavor to be obidient to God's plan.
Often it seems we are asked to give beyond our own measure!
Sure enough that's when God's strength and grace come through in all their glory :0)
Blessings to you:0)

BoydGreeneArt said...

Awesome article.

I often tell people that I would have been much better off if I had of really listened to God and of went on to art school out of highschool. They shuck it off and tell me I'm lucky to be where I'm at. I am blessed to be where I'm at! But I went through a lot and lost a lot of time because I didn't listen.

Thank you for the insight!