I love when I hear Matt Redman’s “Your Grace Finds Me”. It instantly reminds me that no matter where I am, what I’m struggling with, what choices I’m making, what emotions I’m fighting, and what battles I have lost – that His grace is there. His grace is readily available. His grace is unconditional. And I am quickly humbled by how readily and easily God loves me, accepts me, forgives me, and rights me.
And then I am more humbled because I realize that I don’t offer the same compassion and understanding and grace to people around me.
In my human capacity, I want to choose:
- Criticism and criticalness instead of compassion
- Resentment and rash words instead of reconciliation
- Being perturbed and petulant instead of being patient and peaceful
- Fury and fiery responses instead of forgiveness
- Holding onto a grudge instead of giving grace
- Being mad instead of being merciful
- Being right instead of being righteous
- Being arrogant instead of being accepting
- Gossiping instead of going the extra mile
And I make such bad choices more often than makes me comfortable to admit. I let my emotions take control of the situation, my tongue, my thoughts, and my actions. And when I do, I miss the mark. I’m not walking in love. I’m not being the hands and feet of Jesus. And I’m definitely not being a peacekeeper.
Jesus commanded us to love: Matthew 22:35-40 – 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
That’s what life is all about – love. I’m to love people as much as I love myself. Everyone is important and special to God, and so they should be special to me.
How do we do this? Romans 12:9-21 gives us some great advice. It’s subtitled “behave like a Christian” and gives us some practical ways to love the people around us: 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This passage reminds us to be humble, be kind, be respectful, be a blessing, be patient, be peaceful, and be generous. And it’s hard to be this person when we’re walking in our emotions.
When we’re walking in the storm of our emotions, it is hard for us to see and hear God.
The disciples had the Son of God in the boat with them. They saw Him perform miracle after miracle and heard Him teach wondrous things. Yet a storm came in Luke 8:23, and all the disciples could focus on was their fear. They let their emotions control their situation, choosing to ignore the miracle Man in the boat with them? And was Jesus worried? Of course not! He was asleep. The winds howled and the rain poured down into their boat. Yet Jesus peacefully slept in knowledge that God was in control in the middle of the storm. So He slept until the disciples woke Him, completely panicked. And Jesus calmed the raging storm with just a few words (Mark 4:39). Then He calmed the disciples as He reminded them they need to have faith in God during the storm.
And so do we. Our faith will help us to focus beyond the storm of our emotions to be peaceful and be purposeful.
Elijah didn’t find God in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire (1 Kings 19:11-12). God wasn’t in the noise or the natural fury. God was found to be “a still [delicate] small [whispering] voice” that could only be heard when Elijah focused on Him beyond his emotions and the chaos around him.
God isn’t in the chaos and the noise and the crazy. God isn’t in your anger, frustration, criticism, resentment, grudges, unforgiveness, mad, or arrogance.
Yes, He will use all these things to speak to us. But God is in the quiet spaces above, beyond, and between all these things. He’s on the other side of all our emotions, waiting to give us peace, wisdom, love, and “a great calm” (Matthew 8:26) to uphold us through the emotions.
Stop letting yourself be “covered with the waves” (Matthew 8:24). You may be asking “do You not care?” (Mark 4:39) as you are in the chaos. And just as He spoke to the storm, He is saying to you “peace [be quiet], be still!” and “be of good cheer [take courage]! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
Can you pause?
Can you choose to live above your emotions?
It’s hard, and I still struggle with this daily. But I know victory is possible. With each small step of progress a significant change takes place. We become a little more like the person we want to be and the person Jesus created us to be. And we become a little more confident that we can be the person who chooses:
- Compassion instead of criticism and criticalness
- Reconciliation instead of resentment and rash words
- Being patient and peaceful instead of being perturbed and petulant
- Forgiveness instead of fury and fiery responses
- Giving grace instead of holding onto a grudge
- Being merciful instead of being mad
- Being righteous instead of being right
- Being accepting instead of arrogant
- Going the extra mile instead of gossiping
Will you walk the narrow road with me? Will you take up His challenge to be a more loving person who rises above her (or his) emotions?
Marie Fremin. 3/20/15, 3/29/15