More Than a Feeling
Feelings are temporary, but the Word of the Lord remains.
Happy. Angry. Irritated. Disappointed. Excited. Relieved. Calm. Worried. Motivated. Apathetic. Guilty. Feelings, just to list a few.
There’s a reason James uses the word “joy” when encouraging fellow saints to, “Count it all joy.” Joy is not a feeling but a state of being. As believers, we can remain joyful in the deepest pits of despair because our joy is found and remains in Christ. When we feel sad, we have joy. When we’re angry, we have joy. Even when we feel nothing, we have joy.
Thank goodness our joy is not dependent on the temporal circumstances of this life, especially when our feelings are involved. To be clear, I am the "feeliest" of feelers. I’m a middle child (if you know, then you know). I'm pretty consistent in scoring whatever describes a feeler and empath in the various personality tests that exists and I feel all the feels all the time. God created us purposefully to have feelings. Our brains have an incredibly complex Limbic System that is in charge of this. Feelings help us express emotions. They have purpose!
What’s on my heart today is the danger of allowing our feelings to judge whether God is working, moving, and/or present, thus effecting our worship unto Him. It’s common to hear statements from within the Church, and really people in general, as such, “The Presence of God felt so strong during church today,” “My quiet time earlier felt so good;” “Did you feel the Holy Spirit during that sermon?”
But how often can we walk away from a church service having “felt” nothing. You didn’t get the goosebumps you got at youth camp, or you didn’t feel the holy tears well up like you usually do when the bridge of your favorite worship song was sung? Or you felt absolutely no connection while you prayed and prayed during your quiet time? The list can go on. I hope I’m not alone.
Don’t get me wrong- feeling the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit is the BEST. I’ve felt and experienced this in many different settings, events, and occasions. If I shared these stories with you, they would make the hairs on your arms stand straight up. I’ve encountered our living God, and I continue to encounter Him. But what I’m talking about are the moments I haven’t “felt” His Presence. Maybe it was during a church service, or a personal time of prayer. Maybe it was at a conference, or a practice for worship team. Whatever or wherever, there have been times when I have been worshipping my Heavenly Father and I haven’t felt Him.
What does this mean? If I don’t “feel” Him in a church service, does that mean He isn’t there? If I can’t “feel” His Presence during my personal time of prayer does that mean He’s not listening to me? If I don’t “feel” Him while I’m leading worship, have I lost the anointing He’s placed on my gifting and decided to not be present that day?
To respond, let’s turn to Scripture:
Psalm 139:7-12 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Jeremiah 23:23-24 says, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?”
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Romans 8:11 “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
The Bible is full of Scriptures assuring us that God is with us. Because of the work on the cross, we have been gifted The Holy Spirit and can commune with Him every moment of our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, we have access because of Jesus Christ our Savior. The very power that rose Jesus from the grave lives inside of the believer’s heart (Romans 8:11). Because of this, the Holy Spirit is always with us, and is more than a feeling. As Isaiah so beautifully tells us, He is the “Great I Am.” Our God is one in three. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If my faith was determined by my feelings, it would be fickle. Feelings are temporary, but the Word of the Lord remains.
It’s because of His Word we can be confident in Our Father. I can experience His Presence whenever and wherever. I can worship and praise Him while I’m leading a corporate worship set, or whilst folding laundry in my room. I can experience Him while I’m preparing a devotional or in the wee hours of the morning while I’m awake with my little one. We can experience His Presence whether we feel Him or not if we’re focused on Him and Him alone.
I write to you from a place of humility. I’ve learned this very lesson through the crazy times of 2020 and beyond. As a worship leader, it can be a dangerous place to focus on feelings. There have been Sundays where I haven’t felt like getting up and leading worship for very real and valid reasons, but I did anyways. I don’t come to my Father just on the days when I feel like it. I’ve learned the discipline and joy that comes with turning to my Father for everything, no matter how I’m feeling that moment. I’ve seen my prayer life change because of this. I’ve seen my worship change because of this. I’ve seen people in my life transform their own walks because of this.
I often remind my team when it comes to leading worship – “Worship is not about us, but about the One True God who is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise.”
Feelings have purpose, but their purpose is not meant to keep us from worshipping and praying to Our Heavenly Father. Take your feelings to the cross. Press into Him even when you feel He’s not listening. Pursue His Presence, even on the days you’re so tired you can’t even think. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve learned through sobbing prayers and tear-filled worship that my God is more than present and always with me every moment of my life. This revelation has brought such freedom to my days, and I pray the same for you.
Feelings are temporary, but the Word of the Lord remains.