There are many who never seem to get past the stage where whatever they feel becomes their reality, regardless of the facts. I spent the majority of my years in that category, a slave to my feelings. The tragedy of it all was the fact that I knew Jesus, knew of His great love and grace, knew who He said I was...but since I didn't feel it, I was unable to live as if it was all true for me! For example, the Bible tells me that NOTHING can separate me from God's love - NOTHING! (Romans 8:38-39) However, in my feelings-enslaved state, it appeared to me that there were plenty of things in my past and present that were more than capable of separating me from that love. I didn't feel that I deserved such unconditional love and forgiveness. I didn't feel loved, I didn't feel forgiven, I didn't feel clean or new or free or any of that... And so for years and years, I lived a life of guilt and shame and fear and defeat and more guilt; because not only did I not feel loved and forgiven and free, I felt horribly guilty that I didn't feel loved and forgiven and free! Christians are supposed to get that, right? Why couldn't I? A very sad, empty, exhausting way to live...
I have since learned the real, honest-to-goodness truth (hear this good and loud, Friend): I do not have to let my feelings define my reality. How I feel has nothing to do with who I am, and more importantly, whose I am. Does that mean that I no longer have these emotions that tie me up in knots and shake the foundations of my world? No, they're still there - but I have a weapon now. Well, it was always there, but now I'm learning how to use it effectively. Here's the principle:" we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ". (II Corinthians 10:5b) It's an act of the will, pure and simple (ok, not so simple) - I'm training myself to examine those thoughts and feelings that invade my life and try to bring me down, and to have on hand power-packed Scriptures that disprove the lies and fortify my heart against future attacks. Let me leave you with a couple of particularly effective ones, near and dear to my heart:
When I feel unworthy of love: "He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)
When I'm tired and want to quit: "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
When I worry: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
There is such power in the word of God! God-breathed, living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword! Use it - learn it, memorize it, sing it, meditate upon it, put it up in your house, listen to it, surround yourself with it, hide it in your heart, let it saturate your life!
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you before his glorious presence
without fault and with great joy -
to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.