Highs and Lows

I’ve noticed that life can easily take the form of a constant series of highs and lows. For instance, during the 2011 Snowpocalypse here in North Texas, I experienced the ups and downs.  I felt the momentary elation of having a snow day bringing with it the joys of being stuck inside: extended breakfast and newspaper reading, a little afternoon TV, and maybe even a nap. Within about 12 hours, this joy quickly melted into the anxiety of cabin fever and knowing that the week’s schedule was now completely topsy-turvy.  I realized how pathetically quickly I wanted or needed to get out of the house, feeling like my sanity was on the line, when I had only been in for a day or so.

I’ve noticed this feeling in ministry as well. Some Sundays one is left with the feeling that the worship service was a wonderful head on collision with the divine. Then, maybe even on the next Sunday, one is left wondering if anyone was challenged or convicted by anything that occurred. This is the nature of faith, though. Relationship with God is complicated, and He works at a level beyond our emotions and our definitions of success. Truly neither the high nor the low defines God’s presence or absence. Our highs and lows are most often defined by our unstable emotions and insecurities. God is neither unstable nor insecure. He is steady and present, and he works through us despite our capricious nature. And the highs and lows are healthy reminders that the Gospel message is not about how good you feel and how smoothly something goes. The Gospel message is about God intervening in His world through His Word, Jesus Christ. The Gospel message is for co-dependent, insecure, emotional, anxious people- like you and me.

I’m willing to bet you know plenty about highs and lows. You’ve had them in the practical and relational aspects of life. You’ve probably experienced how life can feel like The Superman Ride at Six Flags. You might connect with this feeling spiritually as well. You know what it is to feel the intimacy of God and the forgiveness of grace. You also may know the feeling of insignificance and loneliness in a giant universe. The people whom God worked through in Scripture knew these feelings as well, though. I’ve heard pastors point out how in the Psalms, David moves between the emotions of feeling God being frighteningly close to God being mysteriously distant. And if you read the Old Testament prophets, they weren’t exactly poster-boys for coping skills and emotional stability.

Psalm 130.1-2: Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Psalm 139.7: Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

But the blessing is that God is good, and that He is writing a story of redemption. We see in Scriptures that He has always been working through covenant to redeem, and it is a beautiful thing. As neurotic as we can be, it is a blessing know there is a constant, a God who is loving, just, and glorious.  So I’m challenging myself not to judge life day by day or week by week, but truly see it as God’s invitation to join Him in the narrative of creation being redeemed in Christ. That breaks down the pressure and the anxiety and brings a nice dose of true humility. Life isn’t defined by my tenuous evaluations, and I’m glad about that… I’ll let you know how I feel tomorrow!

Guiding real people to embrace a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ