“…And he was the son of a harlot….”
Judges 11: 1, King James Version
“…Shall I be your head?”
Judges 11: 9, K.J.V.
“…Thou art one of them that trouble me.”
Judges 11: 35, K.J.V.
“A Daughter Remembered” Part VIII
When Your Feelings Fail You
“Feelings change facts.”
How have my feelings dictated events in my life?
How do I let my feelings control the decisions I make each day?
“The truth is that we can overhaul our surroundings, renovate our environment, talk a new game, join a new club, far more easily than we can change the way we respond emotionally. It is easier to change behavior than ‘feelings’ about that behavior.”
“It is unwise to feel too much if we think too little.”
If there were ever a time in my life when I freely admit my decisions were controlled by my feelings, it was during my “dating” years. The people I dated were often chosen using only one criteria: “How did Dorothy feel about this particular guy?” No matter what others thought or what advice, often unappreciated, was given to me. If I truly “felt” good about a person, that was enough for me, regardless of the facts.
One day, as another of my “feeling” choices came over to meet my parents, I could obviously read the displeasure on my dad’s face. Later, when we were alone, my father offered this perspective, which at the time went completely unheeded, but in retrospect I realize how very wise he was.
“Dorothy-girl,” he began, “Our feelings and emotions are funny things. They shouldn’t be treated like a water-faucet for you can’t turn them on or off at will.”
After studying the life of Jephthah, my dad’s words make me think he was a genius. If ever we get a lesson on the role feelings, which run afoul, can ruin our lives, it is in the story we have been studying.
Our lesson for today centers on the word “feelings” – for when “feelings” rule our world, without the monitor of heavenly judgment, we will find ourselves led astray more often than we would like to admit.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not some cold fish whose heart is made of stone. Nor am I encouraging you to be a feelingless monolith.
However, if we scrutinize closely one of the core elements that led to Jephthah’s downfall and the dire consequences his daughter experienced, we find that the dominant role his uncontrolled feelings had, led to unwise decisions and the same can be true for you and me.
Today, I listed three texts that give us a glimpse into the emotional or “feeling” life of Jephthah.
First, Jephthah was born of a harlot. His father, an Israelite, had an affair with a prostitute and the result was a baby boy. After the death of their father, Jephthah’s half-brothers realized they didn’t want to “share” the family inheritance as they kicked Jephthah, not only out of the family, but they sent him running out of town. And here’s where “Feeling Number 1” comes into sight. At this point in his life, Jephthah had two options. He could become a whiny victim, a loser, a nothing. Or instead, he could overcompensate by hyper-achievement. He’d show those brothers what he was and who they were dealing with. The second option was the path Jephthah took and soon his “feelings” told him he was a big shot so in our second text, Jephthah demanded to be the head – call it Jephthah’s revenge. He got back at those lousy brothers. When they came on bended knee asking for his help, his revenge was to require that he now be made “head” over them.
Unfortunately, because Jephthah still carried inside himself “feelings” of inadequacy, God’s assurance of battle success wasn’t enough for him so he made a rash vow and then in our third text, when things didn’t work out the way he had intended, his “feelings” of anger boiled over and he exploded at his precious daughter, who was on the receiving end of her father’s raging emotions.
Overcompensation – because he didn’t “feel” good enough. Revenge – because he “felt” like he would show them who he was. And finally, uncontrolled anger because he “felt” that his daughter, an innocent young girl, was the cause of his trouble. How sad is the journey of this father, who throughout his life, allowed ungodly feelings to have dominion in his life.
After reviewing Jephthah’s mistakes, I recognized that way too often, in my own existence, I’ve let my feelings run the show. And when I’ve allowed unsanctified feelings to dominate my life, what a painful price I have paid.
The thoughtful theologian, C. S. Lewis penned these wise words: “The value given to the testimony of any feeling must depend on our whole philosophy, not our whole philosophy on a feeling.” It took me a few minutes to figure out the point this brilliant man was trying to make, but here’s what I took away from these astute words: If the guiding philosophy of my life is that God is in control; that Jesus loves me; and that the heavenly gift of the Holy spirit is given to comfort and teach me; and if I trust the words God has left behind in the Holy Bible, these beliefs will be the compass which I use to make my decisions regardless of how I “feel” at a specific moment.
There are days I don’t “feel’ God’s love. There are times when some of God’s children let you down and you may “feel” terrible. I know from reading each of your emails that there are days you and I “feel” depressed, despondent, even despairing. And yet, like the email I received yesterday from one of God’s daughters on the other side of the globe, she told me that she was “feeling” terrible yesterday, but for some unknown reason her computer linked her into Transformation Garden. She didn’t know how or why, but she knew “WHO” was responsible for getting her to the garden.
Even the great reformer Martin Luther admitted in answer to the question, “Do you feel that you are a child of God this morning?” Answer, “I cannot say that I do, but I know that I am!”
I don’t know which way your feelings are taking you right now, but remember this, no matter how low you may “feel” or how hostile your “feelings” or inconsequential you “feel,” when the beliefs of our life, the philosophy of our life as C .S. Lewis noted, is drilled into the solid Rock of God, no matter what we “feel,” we will not be ruled and dominated by the antagonistic emotions that come upon us.
I love the words of Andrew Murray, “When feeling says, ‘In myself I am sinful, I am dark, I am weak, I am poor, I am sad,’ let faith say, ‘In Christ I am holy. I am light. I am strong. I am rich. I am joyful’”
May God’s heavenly love lift us today, for you and I do know “Who” we belong to, and that’s enough to make us “feel” fabulous!
“It is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, it is not our feelings upon which we must rest, but upon Christ and ON CHRIST ALONE.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“When all around is deadened gray,
help me, God, keep on believing.
When dulled my soul, though the song birds sing,
help me, God, keep on believing.
When even I dare doubt your grace,
help me, God, keep on believing.
When dreams collapse and bright hopes die,
help me, God, keep on believing.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available where books are sold and at Amazon.com and Christianbooks.com
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.