Sunday, January 1, 2012

Oak Trees and Soggy Noodles

“Feelings and faith are always governed by the truth of God’s word.” – Pastor Greg Braly

    Although I’ve had my share of mountaintop spiritual experiences and would like to pretend that I feel absolutely confident and sure of my faith and trust in Christ all the time, let’s be honest: on an average day, I rarely feel like an ‘oak tree’ Christian. I often feel more like an overcooked spaghetti noodle, weak and wobbly, ready to be beaten into a pile of mush by any wandering fork that comes along to challenge my trust in my Savior. And even though I have been taught my whole life that salvation comes by grace and not by our ability to cling to God’s promises, stand unshakable in the face of various challenges, or whatever else, some days it’s just plain hard to believe that God hasn’t given up on the plate of wet noodles that my life sometimes is.

    But salvation is not based on whether or not I feel assurance, and the truth of God’s promises doesn’t change depending on whether I feel like they’re true in my heart. Our emotions ebb and flow but God’s faithfulness does not. In 1 Corinthians 1 we find what I believe to be some of the most comforting words in the whole Bible:

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 4-9).

God promises that those who place their trust in him will persevere to the end. He has made himself responsible for us and he will never, ever let go. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even ourselves; you can bank your life on it.

    God also promises that he is working all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Not that when we feel good God is working all things together for good, but that he is always working all things together for good.

    In Philippians 4 God calls us to not worry and instead present our requests to him and leave it in his hands (v. 6-7). Not to trust him when we feel sure and confident in our faith, but to trust him in everything, even when we feel like a ‘soggy noodle’ Christian.

    Nowhere does scripture tell us that we have to feel like something is true before we place our trust in it or that if we’re living for Jesus we’ll always feel good. Rather we trust and believe God’s promises, even when don’t feel like it and even when we don’t necessarily understand why certain things happen. And when we truly, deeply trust and cling to God’s promises, our emotions will eventually follow and we will feel assured of the reality of what we believe. But even when our emotions don’t follow and we don’t feel like God hasn’t just given up on us, his faithfulness and his promises haven’t changed. He is sovereign and in all circumstances he is shaping, molding, and transforming us to make us more like Christ. Even as we struggle to trust him and let him have control, God is not giving up on us or abandoning the work that he has started. He has made himself responsible for us and he will see his work to completion. He is and always will be who he says he is.

    He is God, and we’re not. Will we continue to love him and trust him, even when we don’t feel like it and even when we don’t understand?

Will I let him be God?

“And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”

-        2 Corinthians 3:18-4:1

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