My dad is tough, by anybody’s standards. In 1967, when he was working construction glass in South Carolina, he fell off of a building and landed on his back on a steel beam. Surgeons put him back together, and he didn’t even miss that much work.
Dad is 86 now, and still old-school tough. However, a couple of years ago he met his pain management match. Dad had shingles. He said it felt like all of his nerve endings relocated outside his skin. Air was excruciating, and everything beyond air was worse.
People don’t have shingles. Shingles have them.
It is possible for us to have emotional shingles, where instead of us having feelings, feelings have us. It’s like our emotions relocate outside us, and we over-feel everything. It’s all TOO BIG.
A few evenings ago, Carla and I were listening to a teaching by Brian Johnson from Bethel Church. He was talking about how he’s not characteristically a man in touch with his feelings, and as almost a throwaway line he said, “Some of you are way too much in touch with your feelings.” He’s right. Emotional oversensitivity is prevalent in our culture today. We can be so massively in touch with our feelings that our emotions take on more credibility than their pay grade. We become led by our feelings. We think and we decide with our feelings.
King David (somebody who was sometimes morbidly in touch with his feelings), wrote this Psalm. “Hear my cry, O God. Pay attention to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me up onto the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61 Evangelical Heritage Version)
Our hearts can be legitimately overwhelmed by the extremely hard knocks of this life. But our hearts can also be overwhelmed because we self-load our hearts by being way too much in touch with our feelings. Our overactive emotions can convince us we are at the end of the earth, or at the end of our wits, or at the end of our rope, or at the end of our options.
Notice what David asks from God. “Lead me onto the rock that is higher than I.” If you study the Biblical imagery of God as our Rock, you discover that God promises to be our secure relational place of stability, a place that is higher and more solid than our anger, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, etc. When we are trusting ON God like this, God has a way of placing us ON a new and much better perspective than the hyperventilating perspective our charged up emotions give us.
I offer you this prayer. “God in Christ, please cause me to be far more in touch with You than I am with my feelings, because when I am deeply in touch with You, then I can let You be in touch with my feelings and even in charge of my feelings. Thank You for hearing my cry, for paying attention to my prayer. Thank You for knowing where I am when I am emotionally at the end, for meeting me in that remote place, for pulling me up, and for guiding me back. Thank You for taking my overwhelmed heart seriously and for leading me to the Rock that is higher than I am. On Christ the solid Rock I stand. Amen.”
Grace and peace,
Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com)