“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself saying: ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being so old also?'” Genesis 18:12
“Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord save us! We are perishing!'” Matthew 8:25
“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8
I heard a fascinating exchange on television today that really crystalized some thoughts that I wanted to share. Now the discussion was between a highly educated, historian, businessman and politician (HBP) and a newspaper person(NP). In retelling the exchange I’m not going to get into details of the discussion itself because what they were discussing is not germane to the epiphany; it was how the interaction was framed that was so enlightening. It went something like this:
(HBP): Most everyone I talk to says this about that
(NP): But the data, the facts say that is not true
(HBP): Well maybe, but that’s not what they feel. They feel that this is true about that
(NP): But again, all the data points to that not being true!
(HBP): Look, I’ll go with how people feel and you can stick with what your data proves…..
Now this is not the first time I’ve come across this sort of interaction. In my career as an Organizational Behavior/Improvement facilitator, I often come across very strongly held opinions/fears. Yet when I try to get to the root of the opinion or fear, the actual experience or data that supports them; most often that data or personal experience doesn’t exist. Yet they feel that the negative risk is out there. It’s not only toward negative things. I find that it is not uncommon when people want some change to happen and you start to discuss the potential questionable impacts of the change on the organization based on business or other data; they are often quick to dismiss the data because the change would make them feel better.
What does this have to do with our spiritual life? Everything, I believe! You see, we may be studying the Word of God, may be listening to and even agreeing with sound of profound preaching. In our head, we may know that God is the Creator, that Jesus Christ is His only Son our Savior. We may acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, sent to help us. All those things we may acknowledge from a standpoint of knowledge and yet that acknowledgement can be irrelevant to our very lives and salvation if it does not evoke some sort of feeling about it. I say that because it has been my experience that we much more often behave based on how we feel then what we think, although the two are not mutually exclusive.
The bible is full of examples of this. Sarah did not doubt that God existed. She had witnessed His grace to them in their journey to the promised land. Yet she felt that having a baby in her 90’s and Abraham over 100, was ridiculous so she laughed when the angel of the Lord promised it. At least some of the disciples had witnessed Jesus baptism and heard God’s proclamation about His Son. They had witnessed the miracles, heard His preaching, knew He was the Son of God, yet; when the storm arose, that knowledge did not keep them from feeling terror and crying out to Jesus, though none of them expected Him to silence the tempest. It’s not only lack of feeling or faith, the Roman Centurion felt so confident of Jesus’ power that he humbled himself and told Jesus not to come to his house but just speak the word and the Centurion’s servant would be healed. David felt so confident in God that he went out to face Goliath, not with sword and armor, but a sling and stones because He was confident in the power of Almighty God.
Thus for us Dear Sisters and Brothers, the question is, not so much what do we know but, how do we feel about God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now please understand, I’m not trying to disparage reading the bible or taking other steps to learn about God; no far from it. Yet my questions for you and I are: when we finish reading a scripture passage; how does that make us feel? When we say “Amen” at the completion of our prayer; what emotion do we have? As we walk from a church service or bible/spiritual class, do we feel any different?
Dear Sisters and Brothers I feel that it is vital that we feel. The whole nature of our relationship, the most significant commandment is not about knowing it is about feeling; feeling love, first for Our Heavenly Father and then for each other. When is it appropriate to feel fear? What or who should we feel confident in? Jesus Christ came that we might experience the feeling of His Peace, His Joy.
So a paramount question for you and I, especially when it comes to Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is how/what are we feeling? A second, follow-up question is; why are we feeling that?
Dear Sisters and Brothers, please feel. In this world full of data, proof and desired logic; FEEL! Feel the love of God from God and feel a love for God in return. Feel the love of God for each other. Feel a sense of confidence in Jesus Christ. Strive to feel His Peace, His Joy. Feel those and then act on those feelings. And should those feeling flee; pray. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you and bring you back into a feeling of close relationship with the One who feels so strongly a love for you and I; that He sacrificed His Son for us.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, in Your perfect wisdom, You have granted us the ability to feel; to have emotions, to love. We thank You for the love that You have for us and ask that, through Your Holy spirit, we may learn to love You completely and share Your perfect love with each other. Forgive us when we either let feelings of fear or doubt drive us from You, or try to minimize or discount the power of our feelings through the search for knowledge. That with feelings of confidence, compassion, forgiveness, joy, peace and most of all love; we will act upon those to bring praise to Your most Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen