When I Just Don’t Feel It

Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
Psalm 6:2

Ever feel stuck in a relationship where it gets increasingly difficult to feel anything positive?  You cannot conjure up warmth for someone with whom you share no positive emotional connection. Each of us has been created to be responders. If others love us, we are able to love back. If others are generous with us emotionally in an atmosphere of trust, we love freely in return. If we are spurned, we instinctively draw back. If they are stingy with affirmation, we grow shy. If they are stoic, we are careful. If they are cruel, we fight the urge to snarl.

family, relations, age and people concept - senior couple sitting on sofa at home
family, relations, age and people concept – senior couple sitting on sofa at home

In an ideal world, children are connected to parents who love them. Siblings share an affinity over shared memories.  Over a lifetime, there are tears of joy at reunions and tears of sadness at farewells.  But when a bad foundation has been laid, love for certain family members is inaccessible.  There are children who dread seeing parents. There are wives who feel nothing for their husbands.  There are siblings who haven’t spoken for years.

Lack of positive emotions proves that something is wrong with the relationship. It could be that little was given – therefore little is felt in return. That is why God models agape love; the kind of love that is not based on feelings. His love has always been proactive. Even though we rejected Him, He provided His son to die for us.  Who better to show us how to love those who don’t return it.

God understands the severity of our wounds today. He enters into our pain but then He offers us the grace to love in spite of it. If we become embittered, wither, and remain stingy with the great love with which Christ has loved us, then we live in defiance of the cross. We perpetuate dysfunction. How do we find the strength to initiate acts that don’t match what is in our heart? God’s Spirit, alive in us, enables us to extend one difficult act of love after another.

You don’t judge me for not having feelings of love. You understand why I don’t. I can love with my actions though. Please love through me.  In Jesus name, Amen

Stuck Halfway

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.  Psalm 119:15

The way of the disciple is to listen, meditate on what he’s heard, then travel the ways of His teacher.  David doesn’t just meditate to enjoy kingdom musings.  He narrows his eyes to consider God’s ways and to make sure he follows them.

My ears perk up whenever I hear someone describe a principle from the Word as “interesting”.  If it’s only said now and then, it’s not alarming.  But, if ‘interesting’ is habitually the way God’s Word is described, then it’s as if the kingdom is nothing more than an indulgence of the intellect.  They are fattened by the entertainment factor and are self-satisfied because they understand certain concepts.  However, they seem to ignore their weaknesses and believe God for personal transformation.  Their Christianity stays in their head while their heart remains broken and full of self.

What’s critical for me to realize is this ~ If I boast of understanding something void of application, I don’t know the thing at all.  I can know and preach quite passionately that Jesus died for my sins, even watch others come to the altar, but still wallow in past personal failures.  Tragically, I have not personally experienced the freedom of having my sins forgiven.

For every word of Jesus that captures my heart, the invitation to allow my heart to be changed by that very word ~ follows.

Glowing Bible with light coming from the pages.
Glowing Bible with light coming from the pages.

I love to study and am tempted to be self-impressed because I did.  You’re not impressed, Lord.  What pleases You is whether or not Your Word travels to my heart and changes me. Don’t let me miss the most important part.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Satan Will Use God’s Word Against Me

Hold not your peace, or God of my praise. Psalms 109:1

  Has the Word of God ever tormented you? Conviction is one thing; torment is altogether different. God is not a tormentor and yet, when it’s the Word of God that appears to eat at my soul, it can do tricks on my spiritual view of God. He becomes a tease.

Woman suffering from an headache, holding her hands to the head, with radial blur effect applied

 I need to know that Satan is cunning. Paul warned me. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3   The Word, rightly revealed, brings me closer to Jesus. My appetite for Him increases and I can’t help myself from drawing nearer. But Satan will quote scripture (as he did to Jesus) and weave truths together in a way that triggers my issues. How will I know that it’s him working against me rather than the Spirit of God convicting me? I will be led astray from my devotion to Christ. I will find myself backing up, growing shy, beginning to feel distrustful of God’s love for me. I’ll give you an example.

For fifteen years, Satan did a number on me by hooking two spiritual truths together. 1. God loves me just the way I am – enough to come and die for me. And, 2.) God’s will for my life is that I grow to become more like His Son. Combine those and it’s deadly. How can God love me just like I am if He wants me to spend my whole life changing to become like Jesus? Feeling continually inadequate, I feared drawing close to Him. I could only trust His love if I felt I was acting Christlike. See the trap? Feel my insecurity?

A wise counselor I was seeing at the time helped me sort it out. He didn’t try to make sense of the mis-matched truths. Instead, He suggested, “Christine, you must have lived in a world where you were only loved if you acted perfectly.”   The door opened a crack and the light of Jesus love poked through.

Where are you stuck in your relationship with Christ? Where are you shy of Him? Over what do you back up rather than move closer? Find the answer to those questions and I’ll guarantee that God’s Words have been used against you. The devil knows scripture better than any of us and is not above quoting it out of context. We could be paranoid and say that we’re helpless against such craftiness but we must remember that we have the Spirit of God inside to guide each of us into the way of truth. When I identify feelings of torment, I know to go hunting for the lies that caused it.

Lord, I don’t know who this devotional is for today. Reveal the mis-used scriptures and set the captives free. In Jesus name, Amen

What If I Have An Aversion?

I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.  Psalm 119:112

    Tell a child, “Don’t do that!” and they’ll set out to do it.  Tell a child “Do this!” and they’ll want to do anything but that.  Being told what to do is distasteful.  Rebellion is bound up in the heart of every newborn.  If not conquered, rebellion will remain a spiritual disease for the breadth of their lifetime.  Though they are God’s child, they will strain under His commandments.  They will obey from time to time, but down deep, they will resent being told what to do.

closed-eyes    David is tough on himself.  He knows that without some hard work in prayer, his heart will not be engaged to obey with gladness.  David announces to God that he has dealt with his heart’s desire to be autonomous.  He has done whatever it takes to bend his heart toward loving God’s ways.

    Are there any ways in me that are still childish?  Do I obey God only when I feel like it?  Do I obey only the things which don’t require sacrifice?  If so, I am no better than a pouting three year old.  To grow up, I enter into the conflict of my flesh and my spirit.  I recognize and own that my flesh wants one thing; my spirit quite another.  I take my own flesh to God in prayer and admit that it’s bent in the wrong direction.  I cry out for mercy, for a heart change.  I don’t want to grind out a life of obedience that is rooted in behavior modification; all the while my heart privately dreams of doing my own thing.  I will resent God and truly believe He is the one keeping me from joy.

    When I teach, I often face a church full of sullen faces.  They are ‘technically’ in the kingdom but their hearts have not discovered that Jesus is their treasure and that His burden is light.  Heart reformation has never been taught.  Doing the Christian thing has been the focus of their environment.  Satan keeps them in chains, a bondage built on the lie that they know best and God is One who steals their joy by asking them to live in a prison of rules.  They have no idea that the way of the disciple is freedom and exhilaration.  They do not know that the presumed ‘prison of rules’ is the tomb and obedience is walking out into the spacious place of the resurrection.

If my heart is not inclined toward you and what you ask of me, change me.  Amen

A Father I Can’t Remember

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!  Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity.  PSALM 68:4-6

God wants me to know something about the nature of His love.  I had a loving, attentive father in the first days of my development.  Though my memory may be fuzzy and my recollection of Him absent, if I could go back in time and roll the video tape in the spiritual realms, I would see how active God was.  I would see how He preserved me.

baby-boy-abyss-toy-bear-sitting-look-mountain-lovely

Oh, the heartbreak of a Father who has loved well, how deep the pain of a tender parent who has invested Himself yet I did not acknowledge Him for a long time.  Instead, though I knew Him to be Father, I ignored Him while playing with toy gods.   The pain He must have felt went beyond a mild sting.  It was a blow to His heart.

Have you ever poured out your soul on another only to have your love spurned?

  • Perhaps you’ve done it as a parent.  You’ve sacrificed to give when there was little left for yourself.  The one who drank of your affection didn’t know that you expended the last drop in your well of resources.  They tossed your gift aside with disgust.  God knows.
  • Perhaps you’ve done it as a friend.  You watched the promise of friendship unfold like a beautiful flower.  You took it slowly and prayerfully.  Yet, with all your caution, in time the friendship eroded and your heart was tossed aside like a worthless thing.  God knows.
  • Perhaps you’ve done it as a spouse.  You dreamed the dream of intimacy.  You modeled what ‘oneness’ would look like from the way you invested your trust.  While you walked through the years with integrity, his heart grew cold and for a while He hid it well.  One day, there was a pronouncement that the love was gone.  God knows.

God knows!  When our love is tossed aside, the wounds often run so deep that we withdraw and stop extending our heart.  God does not.  He keeps hoping, keeps the ache alive for the purpose of future reconciliation.  Have you ever known such a faithful love as this?   And may I not miss the bigger message in all of this ~ that when I was indifferent, He was not.  When I was faithless, He was not.  When I accused Him of being absent, He was not.

You have loved me with an everlasting love, past, present, and future.  Whatever trust issues I had should be healed in the truth of our history.  Thank you.  In Jesus name, Amen

How Authentic Am I?

HOW AUTHENTIC AM I?

How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!  Psalm 32:2

Genuine.  Sincere.  These should be the last words I see on a 3×5 card before getting out of my car and going out in public.  The world is often a stage and ‘nice’ is the mask I wear as a Christian.  Do others experience me as sincere?

Sincere is based on Latin words meaning ‘without wax’.  There was an ancient practice of using wax to hide cracks in inferior pottery so that it could be disguised as more valuable and sold for a higher price.  A high-end piece of pottery had a stamp on it that said, “Without wax” to show that it had not been doctored.  As a person, I want to be sincere, not just hiding my true nature and true feelings.

Silhouette of young woman.

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What Will Erase My Sense Of Inadequacy?

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.  Psalm 119:98-99

As far as I know, we’re not told that David struggled with crippling inadequacy.  I know of no admissions that revealed that he did.  However, his acknowledgement in today’s scripture would make me wonder if this was a lightening bolt revelation for David.  Perhaps he wondered where his wisdom came from as he confronted the lack of understanding in his enemies, in his teachers, and even in the heart of King Saul.  As He came to grips with their limitations, and as he simultaneously took stock of his own grasp of spiritual knowledge, he could only make one conclusion.  God had been his teacher.  There was no other explanation.  He didn’t attend a prestigious school.  He didn’t come from wealth and nobility.  He spent his youth alone, looking after sheep in a wilderness. When God reveals someone’s calling, there is most always panic.  The call is far bigger than one’s capacity to fulfill it.  “I can’t do this.  I don’t know enough!”

Depression, Women, Sadness.
Depression, Women, Sadness.

Continue reading “What Will Erase My Sense Of Inadequacy?”