It was a dark and stormy night. (Can you say cliché?) The funny thing is that the weather varied because it was not just a night — it was a year. As a matter of fact it has been the last year of my life. So, what about the storm? It was in my heart.
A little over a year ago God moved us from a ministry that we loved. We miss the people there greatly. To be honest, it was a conflict between the pastor and myself that prompted the move. We had very different philosophies of ministry. I felt that I would be compromising some of my deepest convictions to remain there. And, so, without any clue as to where we would go we packed up and moved to Illinois and into my in-laws’ home.
I knew I had made the right decision but it was still humiliating. My in-laws are wonderful people but it was still hard. I felt like a failure. A full grown man with a wife and three children now featuring no job, home, church, etc. I was sure I had done the right thing but I was also broken. It was hard. It was lonely and it was dark!
I felt like I was a failure. I felt like I must have made a mistake at some point. There was no way I could be where I was and still have done what I was supposed to. Let me help you find the key word in those statements — FELT. I FELT that way.
Feeling that way is not necessarily abnormal. What was wrong was when I went from feeling that way to believing it was true. I felt like a failure. I felt lonely. I felt devastated.
Over the last year I have learned a lesson that would seem so simple but is actually harder than it looks. I have learned that my feelings tend to be wrong. Duh! Right? But then what? Why are they wrong? This year kept getting better, storms, problems and now a riddle.
The truth is so basic that I completely missed it. My feelings cannot be trusted because they stem from my sinfully wicked heart. My heart will always lean toward error. My feelings will be wrong. So, in a world that tells you to follow your heart, what do you do? For the answer we must go to Scripture.
The Bible speaks in very bold terms about emotions. It tells of anger, love, lust that caused Kings to commit adultery and murder. In short the Bible does not sugar coat our emotions. It lays the spectrum right out there for all to see. No beating around the bush. In short, it paints our emotions as they really are, fallible. Not a pretty picture. And then . . .
Then we have God. Not a god, but the GOD. The Bible describes God as holy. This is more than simply a God without sin. It is a complete and utter difference from any created thing. It also has the implication of perfection. Not perfection just in His character but also in His emotions. You see our emotions are a reactions to our circumstances. On the other hand God’s emotions are products of His will and character. God is unchangeable and unlike us He has the capacity for multiple emotions at once (even ones we would consider incompatible with each other).
What does this mean for us? It means that God has chosen how He will feel toward us without ever allowing our actions and behaviors to influence His decision. He has chosen to feel toward us as He determines in His utter perfection what would be best.
Why is that important? Because when I felt like a failure, God still saw me as the child He loves. Even if my situation was entirely my fault, and it probably was, it did not (could not) change How God felt toward me. I may truly have been a failure in the ministry, jobless, homeless etc, but God still loved me.
That is the problem with anthropomorphizing God. We don’t make god better by making Him like us. All we end up doing is removing the hope that comes from knowing that God has chosen to love me and nothing can or will change that.