Feelings, God, Me and the Israelites
The other day I was paying the bills and licking the envelopes (yes I am old fashioned and still write checks) and they just weren’t staying closed. As my tongue grew raw and my patience grew thin, my son noticed I was upset and asked what was wrong. “I can’t get the envelopes to stay closed, they have sticky stuff on them and when you lick it is is supposed to stay closed.” I said, exasperated. “Why don’t you just use some tape too, Mama? Maybe the sticky-ness lost its stick.” He so eloquently suggested in his five-year-old reasoning. Why hadn’t I thought of that? I just needed some more reinforcement. Sometimes even things that are supposed to work the first time around need a little reinforcing. Just like my relationship with the Lord. Quiet time with God sometimes just doesn’t stick. I need a little reinforcement. But how? What’s a Christian to do when they feel as if the Lord is far and the way it’s supposed to be just isn’t sticking to my heart?
This fall will mark 14 years with the Lord. I have been discipled by Godly women, sat under the teaching of Godly men, and married a man who every girl prays would lead her spiritually like mine does. Heck, I even went to seminary. But you know what? None of that matters when it comes to the feeling I sometimes lack when it comes to experiencing the Lord. Just like any relationship, feelings ebb and flow and we can’t count on them to determine if someone is present with us, especially the Lord. I don’t have it all together in the spiritual department, not even close, but I know enough to tell myself the truth when it comes to wondering where the Lord is when I feel as if he might have forgotten about me. He is there. He is always there, and he will never leave me or forsake me. (Joshua 1:5) If I got to choose (which I don’t) I would have him show up a little more announced. Is a burning bush too much to ask for these days?
God needed to appear to Moses via that bush because he needed to capture Moses’ attention and the attention of those he was leading. Just like me, Moses too needed reinforcements. Personally, I like the Israelites a lot because that’s a group I can relate to. They demanded answers and questioned where they were being taken. They even thought that their life in captivity was better than wandering around in the desert. (Exodus 14:12) Months after God spared their lives by parting the Red Sea they were back on the complain train again grumbling about how hungry they were. Reminds me of myself. God provides in one way and I am quick to point out another way that I feel he hasn’t shown up. What did God do? Show up of course. Just not in the way they wanted. He provided Manna- for the day only. He didn’t give them an investment portfolio of manna ensuring they would have enough for years to come, he didn’t promise that the interest on the sale of their manna would ensure that their children would have enough manna of their own. Nope, then they wouldn’t depend on the Lord. He was going to show them that in order for his great love to “stick” to their sinful hearts he would show up every day, just when they needed it. He was going to reinforce the message of provision, his way.
When I don’t feel as if God is showing up the way I would like him to, I will call upon the reinforcements to get me through the dry spell. For me, that is praise music, time to journal or free-write, and talk honestly with the Lord about how I am feeling. He’s not angry that I am where I am, He is always just glad I am run to him. He felt the same way about the Israelites telling them,
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it…” Isaiah 30:15b (emphasis added).
He could have walked away, treated them as they treated him: that is conditionally. I am thankful he did not, and he does the same for us.
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he WILL answer you.” Isaiah 30:18-19 (emphasis added).
My prayer is that truth sticks to my heart more than my feelings. I trust it will. How about you, what are the “reinforcements” you use when it comes to knowing and applying the truth of God’s word?
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