“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.”
–Acts 17:11 (NLT)
Recently, I was listening to a speaker at a Bible study at our church. He said something which made an impression on me, and really made me think. If you have read any of my blogs, you know that is dangerous. However, I thought his point was noteworthy, but it needed to be elaborated on. So after making a few comments here, I would like to paraphrase it.
I had gone through a traumatic loss, and I was a real basket case. Everywhere I went brought back memories, and I was running away from them as fast as I could. I worked 12-hour days at the hospital, and after work I locked myself in my apartment to watch old reruns on TV. To put it bluntly, I was leaving myself open for what happened next.
Many times, when going through situations that change the status quo of our lives, the doorway of feelings is cracked open to a small degree. This can be very dangerous because the opening is subtle, allowing our feelings to repeatedly occur and grow over time. In other words, a jarring event can magnify our seemingly minor feelings, such as anxiety or apprehension. When this takes place, these emotions can cause all kinds of upheaval, gaining a major foothold in our lives.
Often, the result is that the person who is ensnared by these unhealthy feelings becomes their prisoner. Therefore, as my Bible study speaker said, our feelings need to be the caboose instead of the engine on the train of each person’s events. I know this because when I reflected back on my own life, I saw that my feelings had not only been the engine of the train, but also the engineer.
It happened one day when I least expected it. I found a phone number in a magazine regarding subject which I was passionate about. I was lonely, and I wanted more info. I spoke with a woman who seemed very knowledgeable, and on top of that, she was quite easy to talk to.
We appeared to hit it off, and we agreed to keep in touch. I began to make tentative contact, and over time our phone calls increased. Soon I became interested in her on a relationship level. However, it didn’t stop there, because I was letting my emotions rule over me.
As we continued to talk on the phone, it grew to be obsessive, like an addiction. Believe it or not, we sometimes spent up to 4 hours a day on the phone. I had a burning desire to meet her, and I knew I had to do something about it. My friends appeared to be getting concerned, and they told me I had lost an extreme amount of weight in just a few months.
If I had been smart, I would have forgotten the whole thing and developed a new diet plan. But because of my feelings for her, I ignored the handwriting on the wall. The foundational differences between us could have spelled disaster if we had moved forward with our relationship.
The fact that this woman lived across the country didn’t even deter me. I felt as though I was falling fast for her, and the depth of my feelings blinded me to reality.
So with little tying me down, I took the cross-country trip to see her, and I made an impulsive move that cost me a great deal. To make a long story short, though, her lifestyle was quite different than mine, and that would haunt us in major areas which we wouldn’t be able to overlook forever.
In spite of this, things became serious–until the very end. Our love seemingly grew, and the wedding date was set. Then one day, she wrote me the letter. It stated in no uncertain terms that she had never really loved me, but she said we could still be friends. “Right!” I thought.
Of course, I was heartbroken. But looking back on how things could have turned out, I see it was the best thing that could have happened, and I thanked God profusely.
God? Oh, yes. Had I really searched His Word during this hard time? Definitely not. I realized that in order to be an effective passenger traveling through this life, I needed God to be in the driver’s seat more than ever before. He provided the directions in His Word, but I had taken them for granted. Either I was going to let Him be in control, or my feelings would continue to toss me back and forth, like a child’s yo-yo.
You might be thinking, “That sounds good, but where do I begin?”
Let me offer a few thoughts to get you started. If you are a fan of old-time radio or classic TV, you undoubtedly remember these words from the mouth of a burly cop: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Like that officer, God is interested in blessing us with the facts, which tell us how characteristics like peace and joy can be ours.
Rather than allowing our negative feelings to get the best of us, then, He longs to show us how we can walk with Him in peace, even during life’s storms. While God does not always deliver us from the fire, He will experience the heat of life with us, no matter what happens.
Just as He has done in my life, God is challenging us all to become spiritual detectives. Learning to search His Word in His way is exciting, and it promotes growth. It will also transform your life. Therefore, as we strive to reach the high calling that He has for each of His followers, let us reach for a new depth, and for His peace and stability.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.