Friday, February 28, 2014

Living By Faith Not Feelings

     April 27, 1971 was the date that my husband and I committed our lives to Jesus Christ.  I will never forget that evening as John Romano, campus director of Campus Crusade for Christ at The Ohio State University presented "The Four Spiritual Laws" to us.  There were no fireworks or dramatic feelings that came when we prayed - only a calm assurance that we had repented of our sins and received the gift of salvation.  
     One of the most important elements in what John shared that evening was the diagram of a train.  
 In the diagram, he explained that the engine represented the "fact" of God's Word which is truth.  Then, the fuel comes from faith that God imparts to our hearts when we believe.  The caboose represents our feelings.  He said that the feelings do not pull the train.  We can live without or without the caboose.  However, it is the engine (God's Word) that moves our faith and feelings along the tracks of life.  As we study the Word, our faith grows and our feelings of love and excitement grow as well.
     Unfortunately, many people try to live by feelings instead of by faith which can lead to disaster or a roller coaster ride in our Christian walk.  If they feel up, God is with them.  By the same token, if they feel down, God has moved far away.  Yet God does not move.  Hebrews 13:8 reads:  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  He is always with us and never leaves nor forsakes us.  This is a promise from God's Word which is fact.  Feelings change but God's Word will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).  So if we are trying to walk in the faith of God's Word, what do we do when we go through difficult times?
     According to the letter that James wrote to the church, he encourages us to count it all joy.  In James 1:2, he writes:  "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."  At first glance, we might think that we would have to pretend to be joyful during hard times; yet this is not what James means. Just as we can choose to frown or smile, we can choose to express joy or sorrow as well.  Many of our responses are a matter of choice.  James never said anything about "feel it all joy".  Rather he told us to "count it all joy"  When we praise God and express our hope and joy in Him, our feelings will follow.  It is a matter of trusting His Word.  The world system waits for feelings before they act but the Christian is to act in faith and the feelings will follow.  Let me illustrate.
     Someone asked me how I could smile since we recently lost our grandson.  I replied that I know our grandson is with Jesus safe and sound.  I also know I will see him again one day because I trust in Christ.  Do I have moments that I am sad?  Yes.  However, my faith is not built on feelings which are going to fluctuate when there is a loss.  Instead, I am depending on God to heal, comfort and restore me and my entire family.  Spending time in God's Word since this loss has built up my faith which in turn is bringing restoration to my emotions.  It will take time, but we serve a mighty God.
     From time to time, our faith will be tested by the trials of life.  If we are putting the fact of God's truth (His Word) first, we will be able to pull the train of our life.  We just need to remember that feelings come and go, but they do not form the basis for our faith...God's Word does.  May God help us remember this simple train diagram as we travel the track of this life.  He will bring us home safely!  Selah!

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