Thursday, February 18, 2010
Disenchantment, Part 2
Again, let me add my disclaimer here: I am not directing this post at any one church or person or population segment. It is merely my opinion, which I am fully entitled to. I in know way expect everyone to agree with me. I don’t expect ANYONE to agree with me. This is just what God has laid on my heart through His word and the path my life has taken. If it steps on your toes, then maybe it’s time you take a good hard look at the direction of your church and the condition of it’s heart. And from some of you I can hear a resounding “AMEN” because your church is doing things right. Take it or leave it.
Over the course of my life I have found myself sitting on the other side of a counselor's desk, pastor's office, or paying for the listening ear of some other professional. One of the very best things anyone ever told me was this: Faith is a FACT, not a feeling. Scott was counseling me at a time when I was doing a lot of working for the church, my husband was doing a lot of working in the church, I was a counselor to others, and from the outside I looked like I had it all together, yet inside I was a mess. I was tired and I just didn't "feel" God's presence in my life. Everything was going wrong. Scott drove home this piece of wisdom: Faith is a FACT, not a feeling. This has become my mantra of sorts and whenever (which is often) I find myself not "feeling it", I fall back on those words. Thanks Scott for your dedication to the Truth in Grace!
Okay, so you know my mantra: FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING.
Why is it in church services these days we are trying so hard to evoke "feelings"? We try to create this environment where people can "feel" and "encounter" while they're there, yet when they leave and this "environment" is gone, they go about their lives without any real connection to the Living God?
THIS HAS HAPPENED IN MY OWN HOUSE.
One of my children went on a youth retreat where lots of the kids experienced "feelings" of the Holy Spirit being upon them. This in and of itself was powerful to witness and was definitely a remarkable thing. It was a "mountaintop experience".
But, during the weeks that followed my child slumped into depression and anxiety. This child was locked up in their room, pouring over scripture (which was NOT a bad thing), praying, and crying out to God because they wanted that "feeling" back. It was an extreme let-down that God was not manifesting Himself in the same way as on the mountain. My child thought there was something wrong with themself, that they were inadequate, not good enough, etc. I held my child and rocked and prayed for my child while they sat sobbing in a heap on the floor thinking that they didn't know the secret to intimacy with their Creator.
FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING.
I got to pray with and tell my child that his/her faith was not dependent upon how they felt, but that their faith was real, and that God was real, and that He desired a relationship with them whether they could feel it or not.
Haven't we all been here? I have had many a day, especially lately, that I could not "feel" God's presence, but my faith lies in the fact that He is always there, always loving, always merciful, always extending His hand, whether I feel it or not.
FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING
There are four hundred years between the old and new testaments in the Bible where God was silent. Does that mean that He wasn't there? NO! God is always there, whether we're in a car, scrubbing toilets, doing laundry, punching a time clock, or in a church.
I'm disenchanted with the whole "fabricating a feeling" thing. It's hurt me in my past, and now it's hurt my family. I've seen it hurt others. If there is one thing that I want to impart on my children, it is my mantra: FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING. It is my desire for the "church" in general to make this part of theirs, instead of focusing on whether people "feel" welcomed, or "feel" comfortable, or "feel" entertained. Sure, we want people to leave "feeling" loved, by us and our Creator, but they also need to be sure that God is God no matter how they feel.
Where is the balance? No really, I'm asking. I'm struggling with this one. John 13:35 says “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” But what does that look like? Does it make us strive to make people "feel" a certain way? Or should we just be out there, loving, serving, and spreading Hope? Just asking.....