Putting Our Feelings In Their Proper Place Pt. 5

14 Dec

Continuing on with this issue of putting our feelings, emotions, and experiences in their proper place, C.J. Mahaney writes the following (you can find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 here):

The Voice of Our Feelings

On a daily basis we’re faced with two simple choices.  We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished for us at the cross through His Son.

If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance you do a lot of listening to yourself everyday.

Not long ago, in the final stages of preparing my sermon to preach at church the next morning, I knocked a mug of hot coffee directly onto the keyboard of my laptop computer.  The machine gasped out a mournful “ffffttt!” and the screen went blank.

In an instant of clumsiness, I’d destroyed my computer, vaporized my sermon notes, and added hours to my prepartion time.  Frozen in disbelief, I stared dumbfounded at the empty screen.  The keyboard took on the look of a small tropical swamp, its keys poking out of the steaming coffee like lily pads.

I wish I could say I trusted God in that moment.  Nope.  Instead I let out an angry, bloodcurdling “Nooooooo!!” Then I picked my chair a few inches up off the floor and slammed it back down.

Instantly I was convicted.  God had been revealing a pattern of complaint in my heart and once again I’d sinned.  Instead of trusting Him, instead of acknowledging that He was sovereign and I was just His servant, I’d yelled an angry, defiant “No!” to heaven and slammed my chair.

Almost immediately, the voice of my own feelings started to speak:

How could God allow this? Why is this happening?

Then this:

Oh, great – now you’re sinning!  You’re a pastor?  You’re going to try and preach to others after that pitiful display of anger?  How can you ask God to help you prepare now?  This stinks.  Look at what you’ve done!

I’m grateful that God helped me stop listening in that moment.  I knew I needed to talk to myself.  And because I knew I needed help, I went upstairs and involved my wife, Carolyn.  First, she gently helped me see the sin that had caused my outburst.  Then together, we reviewed the gospel.

Later, I went downstairs and began the tedious process of reassembling my message.  But now I was talking to myself:

“Your sin of anger has been atoned for by Another.  Jesus died for that sin.  Jesus, the One who passed every test, who was tempted in every way but never sinned.  He stood in your place and He was punished in your place.  God has forgiven you and He’s going to help you prepare and preach this message – not because you’re sinless but because He is merciful!”

By God’s grace I was able to turn away from what I felt and began to live in the goodness of what is true and unchanging – God’s grace to me through the cross.

Thankfully, the sermon turned out fine.  My computer didn’t do so well, but that’s another story!

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