First I just want to say thanks for the overwhelming reply to my last post "Rock Bottom". I received several encouraging messages, emails, and text messages regarding the post. It's always encouraging to know that the Holy Spirit uses your words to touch someones heart or to instigate change. What a Blessing. Let's get to the real point of this particular post. Picture it (did you catch the Golden Girls reference?) I was 16 years old and there was this guy. I had recently had such an encounter with the Lord that I knew my life would never be the same. I was in the midst of major transition as friends were changing, lifestyle was changing, etc. This guy was one I had been friends with and always found rather attractive, but had never really had feelings for. However, through some flirting and spending a little time together I began to like him. I knew that he was not what the Lord wanted for me, but my heart had already decided it was what it wanted.
When I was 18 years old a friend made a mistake that really devastated me. This person sincerely broke my trust and I had decided that I was never going to trust this person again and definitely wasn't going to stay friends with them. For a few days I didn't return phone calls or texts and when I began to I was pretty evasive. The game plan was to slowly pull away until it was gone. However, one day God told me I had to forgive and show grace and mercy. Nothing in my heart wanted to forgive and it definitely did not want to RESTORE!
As I was getting prepared to graduate Tech I had been accepted into a Christian universtiy to get my masters in Christian counseling. I'd spent 3 1/2 years at Tech to prepare for grad school to eventually become a counselor. The school was very near to one of my best friends and would perfectly set me about 4 hours from home and 4 1/2 from Lubbock. Things couldn't have lined up better. However, when time got close for me to graduate I got very anxious about this decision and soon found that God was calling me to go to Africa. Instead of being a few hours from my friends I was going to a different time zone and over 9,000 miles away. My heart was fearful.
Last summer I had a trip planned out to go to Malawi. I wanted to go to Malawi so bad. My heart was definitely SET ON IT. As I was sending the confirmation email to the mission base in Malawi, the Lord said No. I didn't go on missions at all last summer. I struggled through major disappointment for quite some time.
These are 4 short examples of when your feelings can contradict what God has planned for your life. I wanted to show various examples for you to see that no decision is exempt from being clouded by feelings.
Do you know what the Bible says about your heart?
The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Unguarded the heart and mind will cause us to want and desire things that the Lord does not have planned for us. It's not really a question of IF it will happen but rather WHEN.
A few years ago my current mentor preached one of the best messages I've ever heard regarding guarding the heart. She connected a set of verses that I have since used time and time again in my life.
Briefly summarizing! She said that the heart is more deceitful than ALL ELSE, hope deferred makes the HEART SICK (proverbs 13:12), and of course guard your heart ABOVE ALL ELSE (proverbs 4:23).
What I see, is that the heart lies, therefore we must guard our heart from putting hope in something that contradicts the Lord's will for our lives. If my hope is in this guy liking me, a friend not breaking trust, entering grad school, going where I want on a mission trip then my heart will become sick when that hope is deferred. So we often mistakingly put hope in the things that we desire out of our natural emotions or feelings rather than desires birthed from time with God.
This all ties into what I have been studying lately and that is "asking". I don't want to dive into that deeply today because that will make this extremely lengthy, but I will try to finish up with this.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4)
How can God make such a bold statement? He does not lie. He says He'll give us the desires of our heart if we delight in Him. Delighting in the Lord will change your desires.
Many times throughout life our emotions and feelings will go against what we know to be right, noble, true, of godly character, what He says about us, what He says about others, what He says about life, against His will etc. Your feelings will sometimes contradict what we know a Christian should think, feel, look, and act like.
So what do we do when our feelings contradict? Of course it is easier said than done. First and foremost is exactly what the verse said "guard your heart". Examine your heart, your motives, and your mind and put all into obedience with Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) You guard your heart by delighting in Him which lines up your desires with His. Next is surrender. Surrender your thoughts, surrender your feelings, surrender your hopes, surrender your desires, surrender your plans. If you allow the Lord to rule and reign in these areas then our feelings won't contradict the will of the Lord for our lives. Also, as you delight in Him, your desires become His desires, and He will give you the desires of your heart, so your hope will not be deferred and your heart will not become sick. Let me end with this. If you find your feelings contradicting the character of God, the plans of God, the will of God, then you need to delight in Him and surrender. Sooooo much more I could say on this and want to say on this, perhaps tomorrow.
Be Blessed, J. Tate