Tag Archives: beyond feelings

The only thing that matters


We have really been enjoying reading through the New Testament in our daily devotion reading plan. I’m doing an inductive study, journaling my responses to three questions of each passage:

What does it say?
What does it mean?
How do I apply it to my life?


I am always pleased to rediscover those verses that highlight basic truths for living. We read one of those in Galatians 5. Paul was warning the church (and us!) about being enslaved by the law and the sinful nature (actually our own desires). Pursuing his ‘run the race’ theme he encourages us to stand firm and seek the freedom Christ offers. The part that spoke to me was this summary of the gospel of Jesus in V 6:


“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”


This echoes the consistent message I’ve received through this entire cancer journey. I keep yearning for less of this or more of that. I want to fight but sometimes all I can do and stand firm and let God do the fighting:


“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)


But in my quiet times with God (and some not so quiet ones) I keep hearing this same message, that through it all, the thing that matters most is staying faithful.


I shared this with one of my former students, who has been suffering from a different form of Leukemia for several years. I’ve lost count of the number of chemo cycles she has endured. She writes:

“Four treatments down and ten to go this cycle. Question of the day…..when do you say enough is enough? When do you say I am too tired to keep up this fight, especially when it feels like it really doesn’t matter whether you do or you don’t?”


Looking at her posted photo, I could see the frustration and hopelessness in her eyes. I’ve been there, though I suspect her battle is much more extensive than mine. You’ve been there too. Maybe you are there today. The phrase that catches my attention is “IT FEELS LIKE”. We can’t seem to escape our feelings. After all, the body and soul are constantly interpreting the world to us and clamoring for our attention. Our spirit, united with The Spirit interprets GOD’s reality to us, but so often is out shouted by the cries of our body and soul. The body and soul say, “It feels like it doesn’t matter.” The Spirit says, “The ONLY thing that matters is faith – expressing itself in love.”


Have you ever kept a journal of your daily walk with God? Part of that story is the accounting of your daily experiences as told in a dialog between your body, soul, spirit – and the Spirit of God who reveals guiding truth and sustaining grace and power for living a life defined by love. It is this ongoing dialog that grows and nourishes the only thing that counts:


Faith expressing itself in love. 



The Swing


We are more than a body that lives for a while and then dies. We are created souls with a spirit that lives forever. To understand the purpose of our life and how to live it, we must understand how our body, soul, and spirit work together…or against each other. Without this, we experience the same dilemma as Paul:


“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18-25, condensed)


Like Paul we can be in two places at the same time: desiring to walk by faith but actually walking by sight. This ‘wretched’ place stems from the dilemma of thinking we can get closer to God by continually striving to be better. It’s like our spiritual goal is the old Avis Car Rental motto: “We try harder.”


Hebrews 4:9-13 tells us there is a solution our dilemma: Rest in God. His Word divides soul, spirit and body, revealing our thoughts and intentions. Nothing is hidden; all is laid bare before God. Those who stray from Him “will never enter my rest” (Psalm 95:11) but “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” (Hebrews 4:11)


Dan Stone’s illustration of ‘The Swing’ helps explain both our dilemma and our solution. If you still have it, take out the illustration of The Line. It’s a horizontal line reaching left to right across the page. Above the line is our eternal life where the believer’s  spirit is united now and forever with God’s Spirit. Below the line in our temporary life on earth, our soul is seated in our body on a swing suspended from the line separating the unseen from the seen. Like Paul, we intend to follow God but our thoughts, feelings, and actions are contrary to this. Our swing constantly moves left to right, from ‘bad’ to ‘good.’


If we don’t understand God’s rest, we try to control the swing by our own power. We try to ‘nail’ the swing to the God’s ‘good’ side by trying harder.  But like Paul, we end up doing what we don’t want, and not doing what we do! We try to live the ‘good’ Christian life in our below the line experiences, but the life flowing-power of God only comes from above the line where our spirit is united with His.  Our spirit, guided by God, speaks to our soul. But our noisy soul also listens to our body which tells it what it sees and feels on the ever-moving swing. We’ll either be frustrated by living by sight (below the line) or empowered by living by faith where we are already one with Christ (above the line). When the starting point our dilemmas is seen from our point of reference, the swing will always present a problem for us to solve, trying to be good when we think and act opposed to it. Choosing to look at life from our union with God, the problems of the swing become a matter for Him to resolve as He works in us. We simply respond to Him – by faith, believing we already are who He says we are, thinking and behaving that way.


Our soul says, “This is how I FEEL.” Like Elijah, our fearful soul experiences the earthquake, wind, and fire around us.  We need to listen to our spirit who communicates God’s still small voice who says, “This is who I AM in you.”


Live in His presence, where your spirit meets His Spirit and speaks peace to your soul and your body. Listen for His still small voice and find His rest and peace.