As I was hearing these warring voices in my head, I felt my emotions going awry. I starting praying, asking God to give me relief. I haven’t felt like this for quite a while. I started to think, “why am I feeling this way?“ Some reasons came to my mind: I hadn’t slept much the night before, approximately five hours of fitful sleep, I had been so busy that I hadn’t had much time to spend with Karyn, I had not been practicing my music for praise team that Sunday even though I knew the songs, I had been so busy that I hadn’t been praying as much as I usually do and I had narrowed my awareness of God’s activity in my life, etc... I just kept running my mind thru a litany of negative thoughts and realized that I was getting down on myself. Again.
When I got to church, I didn’t feel especially welcomed but then, again, I wasn’t feeling very welcoming. I didn’t think that praise team practice went very well, my timing was off, my voice was cracking and I felt the negative voice return, “What kind of person are you? You don’t need to be praising God, look how terrible you are doing!” I tried to joke with the other praise team members to get my mind off this torrent of negative thoughts and concentrate on praising God, praying that I would find some relief from this mental torture.
Being a Christian for over 40 years and a professional counselor for over 30 years, you would think that I wouldn’t deal with these kinds of issues, that my life is perfect, that I never deal with self-doubt, that I am in perfect control of my mental faculties at all times. Not true.
However, this isn’t the first time that I have experienced such negativity. I’ve noticed this occurs when there are two things going on simultaneously: 1) I am exhausted and 2) I am going to experience some spiritual growth. So, I have learned when this happens, I need to wait and expect something to happen. I pray, asking God to give me some emotional relief and asking God to give me spiritual acuity. In fact, I’ve noticed that many times when I am depressed, down, or negative, God can sharpen my ability to see Him at work. It doesn’t always happen but God does come thru more often than not. Okay, He ALWAYS comes thru, I just am not always ready to receive what He wants to teach me.
Interestingly, in our pastor’s sermon that day, I heard this, “We can assume that God is gonna come thru.” He was preaching about Daniel and Daniel’s desire to please God rather than follow the law of the land. Daniel, it is believed, was approximately 80 years old when he was thrown into the Lion’s Den for defying King Darius’ edict. Our pastor said, “Daniel had been faithful to God and God has been faithful to Daniel, in taking care of Daniel because he would rather please God than man.” Maybe Daniel was thinking, “I’m an old man, I’ve served God, maybe this is the end. Is God gonna come thru this time?” But the pastor reminded us, “Hope in God is NEVER false. We can assume that God is always going to come thru.”
Upon hearing this sermon, I felt a lift, a weight just leave me. The negative voices in my head stopped. I went up to the front to sing with the praise team, “Whom Shall I Fear?” which has the terrific line, “The God of Angel Armies is always by my side.”
As I was leaving, walking back to the car with Karyn, I heard my pastor’s question in my head, a question he asked just before ending the sermon, “How certain are you that God is gonna come thru?
My answer came quickly, “VERY.”
BE A MAN.