Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Abiding In Christ Despite Feelings that Come and Go

Another beautiful and meaningful song from Fernando Ortega...

I wrote about abiding in Christ a few posts back. There is a very real deep abiding peace--a sense of "everything is OK"-- that stays with me as I walk in humble trusting obedience, seeking to please my Abba. However, I also recognize a layer of feelings in my humanity that change; they come and go with varying intensity. I have learned not to rely on these.

Feelings are fickle. They are a part of the flesh in which we dwell, a part of the natural physical meat of our being. They are a product of chemicals that flow through these temporary houses of our eternal souls, and they can be as unpredictable as the wind. They are not evil or bad, just independent and unreliable. I have learned to treat them as forces on the real me which I must choose to respond to appropriately.

When I feel happy, it isn't that I don't enjoy the feeling, I just try to keep everything in perspective. When I feel heavy-hearted or depressed, I try to keep treating others the way I would want to be treated. I try not to dump my depression on others or stop being grateful for all my blessings. As soon as I allow my mind to focus on the negative--which my feelings would push me toward--I end up acting unkind, angry, or selfish. When I remember, this feeling is going to pass, I must hold steady, read good things, listen to good music, and talk to my Abba, before long, the feelings are dissolving away and have not gotten the best of me.

So, my friend who asks, "Do you sometimes feel God is far away?" My experience is that as long as I walk in obedience, despite some surface feelings that come and go, there is a deeper level of peace (or joy) as C.S. Lewis puts it, that abides.

On a side note: I do not know how God does His part of making me into the image of His son, and so I often focus on my part, my responsibility. Some might mistakenly assume I think this is only about my efforts or that I don't give proper credit to God. To help clarify, I turn to C.S. Lewis, who once again says things so well:

And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.
Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 191-192.
This is life! Bask in it! Choose to trust The Lord of Eternity. Walk in humble obedience, no matter what your surface feelings say, and you will truly live.