There were about 75 women at the Women's LIFE Workshop last night. They gathered to hear me share "The Answer to Runaway Emotions". I shared the good news that there was Someone who could handle the wide range of emotions they experienced. The bad news, though, was that we have to be honest about what we feel, whether its fear, anger, disappointment, jealousy. To be honest with God - about what we're not only going through, but what we're feeling- we have to call a spade a spade. We've got to throw away the mask, take off the pious smile of bravery and bluffing, and get real. With God.
Emotions are "a complex reaction pattern..." defines Wikipedia. "A conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling..." Websters online dictionary relates.
Just listing some emotions can make you feel woozy: anger, bitterness, confusion, happiness, embarrassment, fear, frustration, grief, hate, jealousy, pride, remorse. We could call emotions the volcano of our innermost being or the bane of our existence.
But since God came up with the idea for us to have emotions- He created us- we can have full confidence that when others can't handle us because of our complex, emotional state, God CAN. He can handle it all. Especially the ugly feelings. Nothing shocks Him. If you pour out your heart to Him, He can handle hearing your reality without His perfect character and viewpoint getting affected by your hindered state.
Beth Moore shares in her book, Praying God's Word- "One of the wonderful things about God's immutable character is that we're not going to tempt Him to sin when we take our negative feelings to Him. He can take our frustrations without being harmed by them."
I shared how throughout Scripture various figures expressed their feelings to God. Elijah had his despondent, almost suicidal moment in 1 Kings 19. David pours out all his emotions throughout the Psalms. Then there's my favorite, Jonah. Yeah, the guy who was swallowed by the whale. That's usually how we remember him.
But the great message of the book of Jonah is that this ugly acting, pouting, proud, angry prophet- while not a role model for us, as a whole- was an honest man. He excelled at honesty, in his "inner most parts". And for that we may need to give him credit for at least... authenticity.
The prophet Jonah is sent to a pagan city to preach a call to repentance. But more than that, the book of Jonah is also about God dealing with a petulant, angry prophet who can't deal with God's mercy to "those people". God listened to this prophet's expression of anger, displeasure and pain at seeing his former enemies receive God's mercy. An angry man talked with God- the King and Ruler of the Universe- and he lived to talk about it. God doesn't strike you down, dead, if you express your hurt, your rage, your pain. He can handle it. Perfectly. He's the Only One who can.
As we wound up last night, a young woman approached me. "What was that thing you said at the end, about how when people ask you 'Who's the Counselor you see?' and you said tell them 'It's the Lord Jesus- He handles my runaway emotions'? How do I get to see this counselor? How do I get to go to Him?" she asked, her eyes wide with longing.
So I sat down with her and her friend, and answered her. I told them about the incredible opportunity we have to not only cast all our cares upon Him, but the opportunity we have to go running to Him, without shame or fear, and call Him, "Father." I told her how we "change our mind" about who would be in control of our life. I shared about how we exchange our lost, sinful state for an eternal condition of "accepted and redeemed"; how we receive a robe of righteousness that Christ alone could put on us, because of what He did on the cross.
They both said they wanted "all that". I nodded my head in response to their request, recognizing their longing, thinking to myself-what soul would not want all that mercy spilled out for them? I want it, Lord. I want it fresh in my life, all over again.
We prayed together. They repeated a prayer after me- not because it was a magic formula and the words had to be just right, but because this was the first time they were talking directly to God.
But once you've been introduced to the merciful Savior and Lord, you know Him now as Your heavenly Father. You can talk to Him about what you're going through, what you're feeling, what flipped your world upside down that day.
If we've understood the magnitude of this access we have- to all of His counsel and His merciful love, there won't be a thing or a soul who can get in the way of us going straight to Him, every time, with every matter. If we're breathing, we'll always have something to say, something on our mind or something heavy on our heart.
But we now know Someone who will lovingly receive our tainted offering- our outpouring of who we are and what we feel. He receives us. He receives us as we are- feeling afraid, maybe angry or in grief. We can go to Him, knowing that we are not eternally lost, but perhaps temporarily "misplaced". Maybe we've wandered off course, emotionally spent or confused by the storm we're feeling. When we don't know what to do next, He does.
And with a sigh of relief we realize- we've got Someone who can handle it...all.