Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here we go (cont)

I've now posted my blog information on Facebook and LinkedIn. I'm not sure if that's wise or foolish, but I guess time will tell. I'd like to pick up where I left off yesterday in talking about God's character; why it is vital to start with His character before ever looking at the circumstances in which I find myself. Furthermore, I want to discuss the difficulty my emotions present for me when I try to have a rational conversation with myself about Him.
When Anna and I lived in Nashville I met a man named Larry who gave me the best description of where my emotions are to reside. He described a train with one engine and two cars. Those three are made up of "truth", "actions", and "emotions." In my mind there are only two candidates for the engine, truth and emotions, and here's why. I've never blindly taken any action without a reason behind it. Either I felt like doing it, or because I knew that the result of the action (a truth) would give me some kind of satisfaction. It may be different for you, but for me its either truth or emotion that is the engine of my train.
So which "should" it be? I usually hesitate to use the word "should" as it describes something that I may not necessarily want to do and can spend time telling myself the reason my life isn't where I want it to be is because I "should" do something else. That's not the way I use "should" here. I use "should" here as a kind of logical statement, much like, "if this is true then this results." So here's how my logic works: my experience with my emotions is such that I've often experienced an emotional reaction to a situation where the emotion has little to do with the reality in which I find myself. Example: Anna says to me, "We haven't gone out to dinner in a while." My emotional reaction is anger.
Huh? Why in the world would I respond with anger to that comment? Here's how funky my brain is. What I heard was, "You never take me to dinner anymore and I hate you. You don't make enough to provide money for a babysitter and a nice evening out with me. I don't know why we're even married." You laugh at me, but that's how my brain does its translation. So my anger response says, "You're not going to work and providing for this house and the money for groceries. Get off my back and take yourself out to eat." Again you laugh, but I'm not claiming to have a less than screwy brain and emotion filter.
Remember, we have emotions, actions, and truth that can drive this train. Let's assume that I allow my emotions to dictate what is true. Based on my psychotic emotional response it stands to reason that Anna hates me, doesn't appreciate a thing I do for her, and is basically in mourning over the fact that she's married to me. I'm angry (emotion), she hates me (truth), so I yell at her about appreciating everything I do for her (action). Again, you laugh, and rightly so. Am I being a bit extreme to make a point? Maybe, but lets bring this same response closer to home and see how it applies to the reason I started blogging in the first place.
Situation: your father and grandfather both flew for the US Navy. You've spent the first 8 years of your life on or near naval bases, seen pictures of your dad and his T-34 Mentor, his T-2 Buckeye, and his A-7 Corsair (Not VA-72, but it will do!). You've been out to Cecil field with your dad's friends, stood next to the runway and watch as your dad flies his plane across the airfield, goes into the break, lowers the gear, and practices touch-and-goes right in front of you. The roar of the engines, the pride that swells within as your hero performs the maneuver to perfection; your hero who will one day turn down the opportunity to be a Blue Angel so that he can spend time at home with his family. You know from elementary school that you want to be a pilot, better yet, a naval aviator. Move forward to college and you choose to go to the Naval Academy. The 2nd class mids (juniors) who's job it is to make your life a living hell are screaming at you sun-up to sun-down, yet when they try to stump you on an aviation question they have to move on to someone else because you already know every plane in our arsenal and that of the Russians too. You will fly, its your dream. You've spent 3 1/2 years studying physics, engineering, leadership, seamanship, maritime law and history and its time for your qualifying physical so that you can choose aviation on service selection night. Years and years only to find out that you have a platelet deficiency which medically disqualifies you for aviation. 21 years and an "act of God" keeps you from your dream. Prayers offered up for healing, for mercy on the part of the medical examiners, for a miracle to keep the dream alive. The answer from my loving, heavenly Father? A resounding "No."
The reaction to this is obvious isn't it? He hates me and is in the business of crushing dreams. His will for my life does not include joy, contentment, or anything that I will remotely want for myself. I'm just a puppet at the end of His marionette strings. Anger, hatred, fury, despondency, sorrow; you name it, I felt it.
Bringing this home: my emotions dictated my truth. He doesn't just not love me, He's in the business of taking away my dream. He will pursue His glory at my expense, period. What then are the actions of a person who's allowed their emotions to dictate truth? It's not hard to imagine. I'll leave that up to you in your spare time to reflect on your life and your response to His "no's" to your prayers.
Do you see where I'm going with this? If my "emotion maker" is broken and I allow my emotional responses to dictate what is true I will take action based on a lie. Remember Genesis 3? Why did Eve eat the apple? Satan said, "God's holding out on you and trying to keep you down." I wonder what her emotional response was to that? Betrayal, doubt, anger even? The action she took based on her emotionally dictated truth was to eat and share with Adam. Remember the straw? She saw the bent straw of her emotional perception, not the straight straw of God's truth!
You cannot allow emotion to dictate truth, period. Truth is by definition constant. God's character not only does not change, He is perfect. (Can you feel that right now? Your hackles are coming up, the hair on the back of your neck is starting to rise, your blood pressure is up, and you're already getting angry at this idea of a loving, perfect, holy God. Why? Why do you struggle against this so? I'll tell you why; you, my friend, have a broken "emotion maker" too. It was broken the moment the skin of the apple was penetrated. You can't help but be offended because you are a sinner. Based on the devastating impact of the fall there is no way, save the loving grace of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for you to react in any other manner. Stick with it. I want you to feel the full weight of how your flesh responds. You don't feel it? Okay, then you remember the family member who was not healed when you begged Him for a miracle. Remember the parent who did not confess Him as Lord before they died and you can't get past where they will spend eternity. How about now?)
And now that you're either mourning, raging, or confused, I tell you this: the TRUTH is that His character has no malice within it, no hatred for you, and as He pursues His glory you receive the most benefit. Period. It is His character that does not change. Our emotions, our failing spiritual eyesight, our design to be God ourselves are in constant flux and view the straw through the water of a fallen, sinful nature. It's you, it's me, not Him who is in need of changing. And so the conclusion: truth must drive our actions and allow emotions to be a "feedback loop" which tell us how much in line we are with Him and His will. May we look to Jesus as our example (Matt 26:39) for letting truth drive our actions and allow for emotions to be an indicator of whether we are yet at peace with His will. As we go forward in this exploration of who He is please remember His love for you and the security within which you can ask Him questions. Read John 10:28,29 when you get a moment and you'll see that He's not going to let you go anywhere. Dear Lord, forgive me if there's anything I've written this morning that does not line up with the truth of Your revealed word. Thank you for loving me, for loving us, in spite of ourselves. May we see You for who You are, not how our failing eyesight sees You. I love You, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.


  1. with tears in my eyes i thank you for this post. this is what i needed to hear this morning! thanks tal!!

  2. Thank you so much for reading. Sorry I made you cry but go squeeze that Audrey for me when you get a minute. Love you guys.

  3. I so appreciate the clarity of the train example and I believe you shared that with me years ago and I still (on occasion)refer to the need to operate with truth first then everything else ideally follows.
    I've found for me too that the upside (if you want to call it that) is that I am thinking about me and me alone...not about how my disposition impacts sonja or audrey or anyone else.
    Also, I am again struck by the degree of commitment that is required to really look into these areas of pain, disappointment and confusion regarding who God is. All that you said above resonated deeply with me even to the point of reading it twice to make sure I didn't miss anything. What you are writing about is real, authentic and an issue for more of us then we likely would like to admit. (I say us...both believers and non...fear is fear, disappointment is disappointment no matter who you are)
    I appreciate your transparency in this too,heart pain is pretty sacred stuff...
    I also appreciated your prayer at the are doing this well.
    ***I thought dad was considered for the Blue Angels, I didn't know he turned them down to spend time with that's big.

  4. Good stuff bro. I'm glad you are blogging. Strong word and good writing to make it clear.

  5. Thank you! I can't tell you how much I appreciate that from the original "word nerd" (your words, remember?). Please keep me straight!! Take care, Mitch.

  6. Alright...when is the next onslaught of meaty God talk? I'm ready...don't hold back let us have it!!!

  7. Should have the next post up by Friday evening at the latest. Still working on the "meaty" part.