“The kind of religion that God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless “wouldings”–those weak inclinations that lack convictions–that raise us but a little above indifference. God, in his word, greatly insists that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and our hearts be engaged vigorously in our religion: “‘Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord'” (Romans 12:11).
Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1746)
It all began with an outflowing of tears; I sat, Bible open, sun shining, pen in hand . . . feeling empty. You see, I am human and beyond this blessed fact comes an even greater certainty: I am a girl. With with these two concrete factors I face a world, a foe, which wants my destruction. He’s a vicious enemy; he fights against me using my emotions, my feelings (or lack thereof), and my faults. And I fall for it. The moment I don’t feel loved, I don’t feel God, I don’t feel . . . I falter. And just like the foolish man who built his foundation upon the sand–great is the ruin thereof.
So I live. Frustrated. Irate. In a numb and angry stupor. Oh, I know that the Christian life isn’t about me but the more I fight for my feelings the more wounded I become. Life happens; people fail; expectations are not met. And the more I insist upon feeling like acting Christianly the more I don’t. Patience ceases, quiet times end, love becomes mechanical, and fear doubles.
Then the phone rings and after exchanging various bits of news a question is asked: “So, how is your quiet time going?” Gulp . . . how do I explain (without sounding apathetic) that my quiet time is faltering at best; that I feel God is disappointed; that I don’t feel?
Honestly, there is no way for I am, for-better-or-worse, transparent. My attempt at sounding spiritual falls flat and even I–my biggest supporter–knows it.
So I sit, Bible open, tears flowing. “God, I know I’m failing. I know my reactions toward people are wrong. I know I’ve been relying on an experience. But why would you not give me training, why would you not give me accountability, why would you make me stand alone?” I pathetically sniff, looking about my room when my eye catches a title. Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, a sweet Christmas present from my momma, catches my eye and then my Lord spoke.
“You say you have no teacher, no leader and yet I have given you exactly that. Do you see that book?–it has the spiritual wisdom you seek. Do you see your open Bible? It’s My Word. It’s far more leading than any person. Do you see the godly heritage I’ve given you? It has lead you thus far and will continue.”
“Do you see, Frannie?”
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; . . . That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
“Your lacking wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are made even–no, made overflowing–in Me. And if you will follow Me regardless of feelings, nay, in spite of feelings I will lead you. For I am the Author and Finisher of your faith. I have placed you here and I want you to know me.”
So here I sit; my tears are dried and my Bible closed but my path clear. And I am so glad I follow the One who is the way, the truth, and the life.