July 29, 2015

Feeling a Little Off

I am feeling a little off today. I cannot explain it really but I have felt "unwell" the past three-four weeks. Yep, I cannot put my finger on the cause of why I feel "off," but I know that something is not right with me, not well with me. I love the old hymn that says,

"It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul."

I am thinking today that whatever is bothering me must be spiritual in nature. I do not feel "unwell" physically. Rather, I have this sinking feeling in my heart that seems to be constant, it is like a drip of a faucet that cannot be turned all the way off. It is just a slow drip, but an annoyance nonetheless. I feel this deepening sadness, and it seems to be pervading my thoughts throughout the day. At night, I am finding that I cannot sleep well. It is not that I cannot fall asleep, it is just that my sleep is disturbed by dreams that are difficult, unpleasant, and generally scary. Yes, I feel like my mind is racing all the time, and that I cannot sit still or find the peace I so desperately need.

I read a great blog post this morning that gave some background on Spafford's hymn, "It is Well With my Soul" (Horatio G. Spafford, 1873). The blog writer shared a sad story, the passing of a dear friend, and related that news to the details surrounding Spafford's penning of this famous hymn. In both cases, the writers (Spafford and Mr. Lung) described the sadness that accompanies the loss of a loved one. In Spafford's case, he had just lost his four remaining children in shipwreck while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. His wife was saved, but for the Spafford's, the heart wrenching fact remained that God had saved them, but chosen to take all the children home to be with Him. How can anyone process the loss of a child, let alone the death of all their children. Yet, Spafford wrote this beautiful hymn as a way to deal with his grief and his loss.

It is Well With my Soul (1873)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Psalm 46: 1-3

Today, as I blog, I am reminded of this hymn and the verses that suggested it. Psalm 46 is one of my favorite psalms. I often quote verse 10,

"Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!" How I need to hear this verse today! 

Yes, I need to "let be and be still!"

I am trying to understand why I feel the way I do. A good friend reminded me that it is important not to place too much emphasis on your feelings. My friend said that we must be careful not to make decisions based solely on feelings, and while I agree with my friend in part, I also know that often our feelings are good indicators of our "wellness." There is a reason why the Lord has given us emotions. We are not created as 100% rational beings, but rather we are given equal responses -- heart AND head -- so that we can base our decisions, our choices, and our responses on a combination of these two things: emotion and reason.

If we do not trust our feelings, and I am not saying that we should always trust our feelings, we may miss important clues that could help us choose actions that are fueled by compassion and empathy. If we only make rational decisions, where logic predominates our thinking, then we may overlook the feelings and emotional wellness of others. We could be cold, unresponsive, and certainly less Christ-like in our human relationships.

I understand that we can go too far either way. We can become emotional to the point where we no longer think rationally or live in the "here and now," in real-time (as they say). If we rely on our rational, logical head, we may respond in a callous, insensitive way or we may disregard the prompting of the Holy Spirit (which often comes as a "feeling" rather than a "thought") and follow our own line of thinking (Prov. 3:5-6).

It is vital, therefore, to remember that we are to use our God-given gifts, our talents, and our whole being whenever we consider options for our life. Yes, we must go to the Lord first and foremost. Then through prayer and supplication, we are to make our requests known to God (Phil. 4:6). In doing so, we will be putting God first, His will, His way, and His Word before any human logic or emotion. However, I do believe that the Holy Spirit often touches our emotions to get our attention. He is deftly capable of moving us (a sense and a feeling) toward His way. If we are responsive, sensitive to His leading, then we will come to rely on our feelings because we will know the difference between human emotional response and God-prodded response.

I have always been very sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit. I have said this before, blogged about my spiritual experiences many times, but the fact remains that since I was a child, I have always felt the presence of the Lord very closely. I have always felt Him near to me. Once I confessed my need for a Savior, I entered into a communion with Him that brought out a whole host of emotional response from my heart. I learned that I react very strongly whenever I am presented with anything spiritual in its comportment. For example, if a man or woman shares their testimony with me, I am able to discern many things about their spiritual state. I can tell if they are strongly, ardently following the Lord or if they are struggling, trying to figure out their relationship with Him. I can tell where they are spiritually, where their mind is and whether they have a biblical worldview or not. It is not like I have an oracle, some magic instrument to measure a person's faith walk, it is just that I can tell the difference between a sincere conversion and one that may just be partial, a "head only" experience versus a true heart change.

I know that may seem arrogant to say that, and I don't mean that I am better able to judge this person or that person in their faith walk, it is just that I feel something inside me that says "he is in good shape" or "he needs some help." I think it goes hand in hand with my gifting, with my desire to see believers grow in their relationship with the Lord. I am an exhorter, thus it is my gift to encourage the brethren. I am able to encourage and it is just a natural part of my personality. I exhort men and women in Christ Jesus to seek the Lord more completely, more fully, and to place their trust in His Name for every need in their life. I exhort them to find their purpose, to figure out their calling, and to seek clarification on their giftings so that they can be used by the Lord to fulfill the great commission. I exhort believers to learn to lean on and abide in Him so that they will find emotional wellness, wholeness and healing in their lives. Most of all, I exhort them to know and to recognize that God is good, and that everything in their life is good (even when it may not seem like it, feel like it, or look like it). Yes, God is good. All the time, He is good.

Today, I sit here and I struggle with doubts, with feelings of insecurity, and with this dread in my heart that says "something is not quite right." I don't know where this feeling comes from, and the quick response would be to simply say that it is the enemy, testing me, trying me. This may very well be true, but it could also be the result of many other things, most namely a sin issue in my life, forgetting to do something the Lord has asked me to do, or an unwillingness to go where He is sending me (telling me where He intends for me to go). It could be a combination as well, but it is up to me to discern the truth, to get to the root cause, and to act appropriately on the matter. In my case, I must determine the following:
  • If Satan is tempting me, trying me - then I must stand in faith and wield the mighty Word of God (Eph. 6:10-18)
  • If there is sin in my life - then I must confess and repent of it (1 John 1:9)
  • If I have forgotten to do something the Lord asked me to do - then I must make amends and immediately do that very thing (Deut. 23:21)
  • If I am unwilling to follow the Lord, then I must confess this act and agree to His will for my life (Deut. 13:4)
Thus, today, as I think about why I am feeling this way, I have two choices really. One is to stay just as I am and continue to feel "off;" or two, is to get down to business and ask the Lord to help me know what to do, and then as soon as He tells me, I must act and obey (do it). I must not tarry in this or else I will continue to suffer, and I will not come to terms with the "thing" that is causing me to feel this way. I know this is the case, I know it because this is not the first time this has happened to me. No, over the course of my life, there have been many instances when I failed to act on my feelings, failed to take them into account, and in doing so, I missed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I missed His cue, and as a result, I ended up missing an open door or making a decision that could have changed my life for the better.

Consequently, this is routine for me. I know what I must do, and I know that the sooner I get to it, the better off I will be. I will feel better, and I will have clarification on some point in my life. Yes, I know that I must spend some time before the Lord, seeking His face, and asking Him for guidance and clarification in this matter.

I know what I must do. I know what needs to be done. And, today, I make haste to do it. God is good, so very good to me. Selah!

I pray it is well with your soul this good day.

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