In my book, Ascent to Hope: The Rugged Climb from Fear to Faith, I tell the story of my days existing in and through a state of high emotional turmoil. My emotions got the best of me on a lot of days as I sought to make sense of my life and all that was transpiring around me. The lack of hope I felt paralyzed sound judgement and allowed my emotions to reign free.
"Most of us do not willingly act out of an emotion that we know is inherently wrong. We act out of an emotion we believe to be right, if only to find out later that our emotion lied to us, and our emotion deceived us into action"(pg. 32, Ascent to Hope).
Emotions are agitated feelings that stir up a physiological response in our bodies resulting in a physical outcome, like crying, shaking, laughing, fleeing, etc. Emotions trigger a response.
Yet, how often have those responses, the feelings, led to poor decisions, rash judgments, grudges, and misguided steps?
Alisa Keaton, in her book the Wellness Revelation, says, "We must never put hope in what we feel. Feelings are meant to be felt, not drive what we do."
What we do -our actions, reactions, our going and coming - must be driven by truth.
How many times do we sit in church, Sunday after Sunday, and feel all the feels, get emotional and walk out the door unchanged? We hear the truth, we react to the truth with our emotion, but our coming and going, our doing has not changed.
Why? Because we have put our faith more in the emotion, we felt than in the truth of the word. Emotions lie to us because they trick us into believing that we have done something with the message we heard and the truth we encountered.
James 1:25 (AMP) says, "But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience]."
We can get trapped in a thought cycle of believing that the physiological response is equal to doing, and we have done enough. And to take it one step further, by hearing - we believe we have actively participated. We can think no further action is needed because we listened.
In reality, we have done nothing except confirm that our bodies physiological response is working properly. BUT the physiological needs to be followed by a PHYSICAL response, an act of obedience, toward the truth we have heard. A wrestling with. An implementation. A prayer spoken. A discussion completed. A heart softened. Lest we forget what we heard and remain unchanged.
If you find yourself here, listen closer to what God is trying to show you by grabbing your attention with the emotion and don't let the emotion be the end all be all. And don't let your listening be the end of the road either. He has more for you - but receiving more of Him requires change, it requires obedience. More of Him is not just feeling His presence, it means being obedient and faithful even when His presence isn't felt.
The questions I leave you with today are:
Are you allowing your emotions to trick you into believing you are being obedient to God's truth?
Is being stirred in your spirit a frequent feeling but has not yet produced a real heart and life change?
Have you become too comfortable listening or are you ready make a move?