It’s snowing in New York City. Today is the first time in history – since reliable weather records were kept at least – that the Big Apple has received more than six inches of snow on a day immediately following a high of 60 plus degrees. Yesterday’s high in New York City was 62. Eight to twelve inches of snow are expected today, with a high of only 28.
Up and down. In the wacky world of weather, we know what that’s like here too, though this year winter has been mostly hard to find. The temps have been more up than down.
Sometimes our spiritual lives are up and down. We can experience something like a spiritual roller coaster ride – especially when we’re driven by our feelings. As we grow up in Christ, we learn with more tenacity to trust the facts of our salvation – what Jesus has already done for us (John 10:27-28; Philippians 1:6) – but sometimes that’s not so easy in the moment (either up, down, or moving at warp speed in either direction).
Now I want to take this a little further, if you will permit me. Now that I’ve urged you not to lean too heavily upon your feelings, I’m going to challenge you to something radical: Don’t completely ignore your feelings either! Sometimes our feelings are designed to alert us, like dashboard warning lights. For example, my sadness may be because I’ve sinned against God, and I need to repent (Ephesians 4:30). That’s a wonderful opportunity to come clean with the Lord (Psalm 139:23-24), and it could be that my sad feeling was in fact very helpful. The Lord will help us sort out our feelings if we will humbly ask.
But even beyond our feelings, sometimes LIFE is just up and down. Though we generally remember the Cross on which Christ died, we often forget the crosses which He expects us to carry. They’re not so easy. Christ is calling us to be salt and light – agents of radical influence on a larger society. A society which is broken and confused. A society which will on occasion bite us even when we’re trying to help. We all like the “city on a hill” part, but my point is that the ride to get there may be more than tumultuous. The same for First Baptist Paducah. If we think we can preach, live, and share the gospel without some chaos along the way, we definitely have misunderstood the gospel.
One reason why the ride gets bumpy is because you and I are driven by faith, justice, mercy, and a whole lot of other countercultural values. We have not boarded a carnival attraction for wimps. We’re in for the grace-ride of our lives!
So if you feel like throwing up, or giving up, don’t. Deep down and for eternity, there is joy on this journey. As you ascend the coaster’s next hill, and you feel that lump in your throat and those butterflies in your gut, consider lifting your hands in reckless abandon. God’s got this. Up, down, and in between.