All I can say is, follow your heart.
It’ll tell you what’s right.”
Lizzie McGuire, (2001: S2E22)
In my last post I wrote about how I have very easily go from having met someone to imagining our first date, marriage and a bunch of kids. That was the jist of the post. And the question I asked was “How does God propose that we deal with these feelings and thoughts that seem to have a life of their own?”
The Bible speaks of two lives that we live: this temporary life in the world and the after life. I would like to think of life as an adventurous journey that we walk with God as we get to know Him and we get to know us. And as I’ve encountered different challenges, particularly regarding marriage I’ve sensed God asking me: What are you relying on for direction? What’s the basis upon which you will make decisions regarding relationships specifically?
This is such an important question! Allow me to use an illustration to explain why:
Think of two housemates lost in the middle of nowhere: Chang and Li (no one ever uses Chinese names in examples!). They’ve been trying to find their way back home for hours and as a result are even more lost than they were in the beginning! Tired, hungry and sick of arguing with each other, they eventually decide that each of them will use the GPS that’s on their smart phones to find their way home. Using satellites in space, GPS can tell you where you are and how to get to a certain destination. Both of them start off in the same spot, punch in their destination and set off.
Let’s imagine that Chang’s GPS is faulty for some reason or other. It doesn’t matter how determined Chang is to get home, she’ll still be lost if she relies on the faulty directions on her phone.
It’s in this story that we realise just how important it is to check up on what we’re relying on because it could make all the difference in the world! In relationships and in life.
Broadly speaking, I can say that my GPS has taken two forms:
GPS #1: Feelings
The Plea: “Lord PLEASE take the feelings away if they’re not from you! Please LORD, I beg of you, save me from this affliction of my flesh!”
In the past I’ve prayed this prayer sincerely out of a heart that wants to please God. Most of us pray this prayer not just as lip service, but genuinely, because we’re trying to “Guard our hearts…” Most of us are women who desire to have hearts that are fully devoted to God and we want His will to be done in our lives. So in the face of the sometimes overwhelming feelings we turn to God and ask Him to reach into our hearts and take them away.
I’ve tried this. I’ve prayed and prayed and cried and moaned and had a soaking session just so that God would reach into my heart and take these feelings away. But still the feelings didn’t go away, in fact, they grew stronger in their intensity! And so I began to think: Does that mean God is saying “Yes” to a relationship with this guy? Does this mean that God wants me to marry him? Could this be DESTINY?!
But isn’t it good to pray this kind of prayer? Surely it’s the godly and safest way of dealing with feelings?
The problem with this prayer is the fact that it is feelings focussed. That is, anyone who prays this is probably basing their next move on whether their feelings change or not. If they go away God is saying “No”, if they stay then it is a “Yes” or more cautiously, “Maybe”.
Did God create emotions and attraction and desire and feelings? Yes, God created everything.
Are our feelings and heart desires important to God? Yes.
But feelings are not truth. Feelings change, ebb and flow, grow hot and cold and that’s why it’s so dangerous to rely on them when deciding on the way forward. Feelings are not necessarily evil in and of themselves by they are not a foundation on which we are to build our lives. In other words, Lizzie is giving bad advice to Confused. Your heart will not always tell you what is right, in fact your heart can deceive you! (Jeremiah 17:9)
GPS #2: Faith
The Amplified version of 2 Corinthians 5:7 is amazing!
“For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.”
Ok, God, this verse sounds awesome but what does it mean? Is the phrase “walk by faith” nothing more than just a line that sounds powerful but means nothing? What does it mean to allow faith to direct us as to where to go and what to do?
A good thing to do here would be to work backwards. Paul says that we ought NOT to walk “by sight or appearance”. In other words, the stuff that commands the most attention in the natural (what we can see) is not to be what we for guidance and direction. As all consuming and important feelings are, they are not a compass (GPS) or a basis upon which we ought to be living our lives by.
We are called to live by faith.
There’s no one blog post that can summarise that phrase. Rather, it’s a journey of discovering what that means. First of all though, we need to make the decision to be people whose navigation system is different, one that is firm and rooted in God. We need to a people who set our hearts and minds to walking by faith, even before we fully understand what that means.
Practically how do you think God is calling you to use faith as your GPS? More in my next post!