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Shifting Shadows

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Well, a lot has happened in the past month of my life including…

Moving to Austin, TX…

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Visiting India with Jake to see brother Bo…

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Marrying off a Best Friend…

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That’s just to name a few. The last month or so of my life in 3 words:

What. Just. Happened.

Here’s where I’ve gone the past 6 or so weeks: Destin, FL. Fayetteville, AR. Delhi, India. Branson, MO. Austin, TX. Tyler, TX. Fayetteville, AR. San Antonio, TX. Fayetteville, AR. Austin, TX.

Days: July 20- September 3. States: 5, Countries: 2, Weddings: 3 (and counting), Bridal showers: 2, Miles: too many to count. volleyball teams: 1 (Go Lady Knights!)

God: 1

Therefore, laughs: abundant.

I had a sweet experience one night at a local church that really made my move to ATX sink in. During the worship set it dawned on me that I knew literally no one in the entire room. Maybe one girl by acquaintance, but aside from that, I knew not a soul.  I had gotten lost on my way to the church, and on my way to WalMart, and on my way to the gas station, and on my way home.

I didn’t (and still don’t) know this new city. I didn’t know my new home. I didn’t know anyone else, either. BUT I knew the God that was being worshiped in that moment. I know him; he is the most familiar thing in Austin. Being one face in several hundred that night worshiping the Lord left me awed by his unwavering character.

There is something rich about worshiping God in a room filled with total strangers, all of which can testify to his boundless mercy and grace.

 

With so many things changing, including my locations, I have found myself scraping for any semblance of familiarity. There is great comfort in knowing that my God never changes.

James 1:17 calls God “the Father of Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

And yet again I find the faithfulness of the Lord—the consistency and steadfastness of his character—transcends everything. He does not change like shifting shadows. Well, my shadows have been ashifting lately, and in the hustle and bustle of change, I find rest in the unfailing consistency of my Lord…

  my lack of faith does not, cannot, and will not nullify his faithfulness.

 God is the same in Destin as he is in Delhi. He’s just as holy in Fayetteville as he is in Branson. He is just as near in Tyler as he is in Austin. He does not change like the shifting shadows. His consistency transcends location, season of life, and even–praise Him for it—how I’m ‘feeling’.

Yes, he remains the same regardless of how we may be feeling.  Let’s be honest, is there anything shiftier than feelings?

How many times a day to you use the phrase, “I feel like…..”

I’m becoming more and more convinced that believers, (perhaps female believers more than male) worship feelings more than God. Hear me out– we associate feelings and experiences with God and let those things define him rather than his word. Have you ever been to a conference, camp, retreat, or big church service? All of the emotions are heightened and we… ‘feel so close to God’, right?

I know I’m guilty of this. I catch myself saying things like: God feels so near right now. I felt so at peace today. Or I am feeling really dry right now.

Where do we get this stuff?

What constitutes a ‘good’ quiet time? Is it reading something that directly applies to me or makes me feel something?

What constitutes God feeling near? Is it when everything is peachy and things are going my way? When I wake up in a good mood? When I like the worship music at church?

Let’s reverse it… Is God any less near when nothing is going my way, I’m in a stink mood?

What constitutes God feeling distant? Is it when things aren’t going my way? My time in the Word isn’t directly applying to me?

I fear that we let our feelings define God more than we let his word define him. A thought to be feared.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17

 Someone is wrong in these scenarios and it isn’t God … It’s us. Can’t you hear the unspoken expectations? “I want to feel __________ when I read the Bible/ go to church/ share the gospel and if I don’t something is off. God is distant. I am in a dry spell. He is not holding up his end of the deal.”

Seldom, if ever, would we speak this aloud. It is very likely that we may have developed expectations for God.

Here’s a thought—what if Instead of reading the word to see what it says about us, we started reading it to see what it says about God? And what if we defined a ‘quality quiet time’ by what we learned about God rather than what stirred us emotionally? All too often I have to remind myself….It’s not about me and how I ‘feel’ about everything. It’s about God and his glory. He is who he says he is and he can do what he says he can do.

Now, I’m not saying that feelings are bad. I’m just saying feelings can very quickly become  addictions and idols. What if God was only good when I felt like he was good? Or God was only kind when I was happy getting everything I wanted. That would be no God worthy of Praise. Is God’s goodness relative to how I am feeling? No, and praise him for it! I just moved 10 hours from home; I’m feeling about 30 different emotions every day. God’s character is absolute, and is not defined by how I’m feeling. This is what we need to grasp.

May we rest in the facts rather than the feelings.

 I’m not hurling accusations, but rather recommending a self-check. Consider areas where you may have allowed emotions to creep up onto the throne in your life and sway you back and forth. Look for any unspoken expectations you may have for God and your walk with him that you may have internalized.

We—let me speak for myself– I need to think on what is true, regardless of what I may or may not be feeling at the given moment. Our feelings, location, season of life, job and countless other temporary things are the shifting shadows… they come and they go, they’re up and they’re down.

The Father of Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows…

 What is true: God is consistent. His character never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8) He does not change like shifting shadows.

Glory! Amidst the ever-shifting shadows we know that only thing that remains the same…

we get to know him! 

Join me: figure out what your shifting shadows are. Do a self-check and bring to light any areas where you may be associating an emotional experience or feeling with God. Be free. God’s consistency transcends our emotional roller coaster. Hallelujah amen!

Remember, she CAN laugh at the days to come… because she knows the one who is unchanging, and puts her hope in him.

May the next month be summed up like this:

She. Can. Laugh.

 

Here’s to laughin’,

Sarah

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