Here’s the good news for those of you who have gotten frustrated in your walk with God because you don’t feel you are disciplined enough: growing in your faith is not just about discipline.
I’ve spent over 40 years pursuing a relationship with God that certainly involved what some call the main “spiritual disciplines” of prayer, Bible study, accountability and fellowship. There’s no doubt that these are crucial for a healthy walk with the Lord. But as I look back on some key turning points in my spiritual walk, there were definitely times when I was just spiritually needy and emotionally desperate – and I experienced God’s life-changing powerful presence.
More than giving us chills and supernatural signs, God wants to meet our deepest emotional needs in an encounter with Him. While you can’t build your faith on feelings alone, they nonetheless are part of experiencing God’s presence. Emotional hunger and honest expression of your feelings can ignite a wave of spiritual renewal.
Be Hungry For God
Be open to God “showing up” in times when you desperately need Him. I remember one pivotal moment in my life when this occurred. I was coming home from my junior year of study abroad in Spain. It had been a long year, exciting but also lonely, and I had battled anxiety and anorexia. I was feeling very vulnerable as I sat in the airport in Madrid, hungrily reading a devotional my mother had sent me.
The airport speakers were broadcasting all these songs in Spanish and I was reading my devotional in English when all of a sudden something amazing occurred: just as I was reading the words about how God is like a bridge over troubled waters, the American song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” breaks through the loudspeakers. I raised my eyes to the speakers, incredulous that God was speaking to me in literally my own language! I heard the message loud and clear that God was saying: “Lauren, I am with you, always.” Tears streamed down, and joy and hope welled up in me. I can remember and actually “feel” that experience, even to this day.
Trust Your Feelings Under God’s Care
Be trusting with your emotional response to God. We can let our tears or laughter flow when we meet with God. God sees and can handle the full spectrum of our emotions, and doesn’t turn away from us.
I have two adult children in their twenties, but I can still remember their childhood days and their honest responses of joy, laughter, tears and frustration to the various situations they were in. I would never want them to bottle up their emotions. And neither does God want that for us.
We can trust God, and we can trust ourselves under His care. The Psalmist says, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” This word, “pour,” can even be defined as to dump, gush or shed. God can take it when we need to dump our pain, vent our frustration and unleash our feelings before Him. We then experience His powerful peace. It’s an incredibly precious exchange.
Real And Free
It’s a relief to know that it’s not a life of rigid, exacting discipline that God wants from us. Be thankful that you’re not a robot and God doesn’t expect you to act like one. God can work with your feelings, touch your emotions and meet with you in your need. God wants us to be emotionally interactive with Him. In return, God promises to show up and make His presence known in our life.
You may also be interested in How To Be At Peace In An Anxious World