4 things to KNOW instead of FEEL

4 Pillarsi’ve written quite a bit about how dangerous it is to trust what you feel. (read some here, here, here, and here). our hearts are deceptive. therefore, when faced with a choice between trusting what you feel and trusting what you know…i’m going to try and go with what i know to be true.

today, here are four things i want to know, even though they are sharply contrasting to what i feel. maybe you want to know these things too?

1) i know i need to pray.
prayer has always been a challenge for me. i think some of that stems from my role in ministry: i was always the “official pray-er” at every church and ministry event i attended. maybe i felt like i didn’t need to pray anymore?

notice what i wrote there? maybe i felt like i didn’t need to pray anymore.

i know i need to pray. i know that communication (both talking and listening) is vital to the development of any relationship. i know God wants to hear from me. i know God has a lot he would like to tell me. i know the discipline of prayer would be good for me…it would force me to slow down and quiet down.

2) i know i need to love others.
my kids. my co-workers. the guests who sit at my tables at Applebee’s. the unbeliever i really like and the Christian i don’t like at all.

no matter who it is or how i feel about them…i know i need to love. not just like. or get along with. or tolerate.

Jesus calls us to love our enemies, but i don’t feel like i have any of those. it might be just as hard to love those you feel apathetic towards. and i know i need more of the Spirit to do this well. see #1.

3) i know God is close.
it’s easy to forget how close God is when you have one arm full of hot plates of food, the other hand with a check to be dropped, two tables who need drink refills, and the expectations your managers, staff, and guests have for you to be perfect.

it’s easy to forget how close God is when you have 3 kids screaming at you and each other, 2 kids wrestling on the couch, and 1 kid waking up cranky from a nap with the worst kind of bedhead.

it’s easy to forget how close God is when your bills are past due, your friends ignore you, your dreams abandon you, and your heart is breaking.

he. just. doesn’t. feel. close.

but. i. know. better.

if anything, on my better days, i may be more aware of God’s closeness in the chaos of my full house and full restaurant than i was in ministry. at the very least, i am definitely more aware of my need for his closeness.

4) i know i’m not a big deal.
i think everyone likes being a big deal. our culture makes a big deal out of becoming a big deal.

i felt like a big deal in the previous season of my life. i was leading a growing ministry. i was sought after to speak in lots of churches and at lots of functions. i had successfully funded a book project, partnering with hundreds of people.

i felt like a big deal.

and i let my big deal-ness define  me. (but more on that another day.)

when you think you’re a big deal, you have to make decisions that help you stay a big deal. you don’t make decisions out of faithfulness or humility or for the benefits of others. you make decisions to help you maintain your rock star status.

here is what i know today: i’m not a big deal. i never have been. and that truth is incredibly liberating. it frees me to be a child of God, a husband to Keri, and a father to my gaggle of children. it allows me to be a lowly server at the neighborhood bar and grill.

i wasn’t making much of a lasting splash when i felt like i was a big deal. now that i know i am not a big deal, i receive the grace to try again and hope for a bigger splash for my family, my guests, and for the little corner of the Kingdom in which i reside.

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i simply take up space in the Kingdom

Not well? What is illness to the body of a knight-errant? What matter wounds? For each time he falls, he shall rise again, and woe to the wicked.
–Don Quixote in The Man of La Mancha

the theme God keeps bringing me back to is one of grace upon grace. i don’t know that i will ever understand this kind of love. and if i am honest, it’s hard for me to accept that anyone loves me…especially the God to whom i am accountable.

you see, i’m afraid i let my previous sins handcuff me. i am rendered ineffective. i simply take up space in the Kingdom. 

and when this happens, the Enemy doesn’t get nervous when my feet hit the floor in the morning. he isn’t threatened by me. he doesn’t really have to pay me much attention.

this quote by the beautiful and tragic Don Quixote in The Man of La Mancha reminds me of a few things i can’t afford to forget. perhaps they will serve you well.

// i will fall.
no matter how hard i strive, how far i go, or how good i think i am…i will fall. often. and a lot.

// i will be wounded.
it’s hard to keep falling and not hurt yourself. i learn this every time i go mountain biking; i fall and land on the same spot over and over again. it hurts. it’s almost enough to make me not want to get back on the bike. but…

// i must always get up.
what good am i in the Kingdom if i fail to get up? dwelling on my wounds keep them from becoming scars and scars are tangible evidence of healing. getting up speeds the healing process.

// nothing conquers our foe like the grace of God.
our Enemy wins if we stay chained to the sins of our past. it’s the grace of our Father that lifts us up, sets us back on our feet, and throws us back into the battle. and nothing is more threatening to the dominion of darkness than a bunch of freed captives, wrapped in the light of grace, taking back ground.

today, i vow to loose the chains of previous sin.
i vow to get up, dust myself off, and get back in the arena.
i vow to tell the stories of my wounds to scars.

woe to the wicked.