It was one of those rare moments when all the pieces fell into place in one full swoop. We were in the Counseling Room talking about faith. My Client, having grown up in a loving, Christian home, expressed her longing to regain the “warm fuzzies” of the faith she enjoyed in her youth. Presently in her early thirties, and having made choices in her young adulthood she deeply regrets, I could see that she was at a spiritual crossroads . . . unsure of the direction she needed to go.
Suddenly, this question wafted out of my mouth and across the room before I even had time to think about it, “Lisa, tell me everything you know about eagles . . . how do they learn to fly?” Looking at me quizzically, it took her a moment to begin processing the question that appeared to come out of nowhere. Rephrasing it slightly, I again asked, “What do you know about how eaglets learn to fly?”
Obviously wrestling with the relevancy of my question to our discussion on faith, Lisa replied, “Well . . . I don’t know . . . I . . . .”
I leaned forward, sensing a growing excitement that the Lord was about to reveal something really special to us. As I did, I remembered the words of Isaiah that describe God in all of His majesty as He surveys His Creation:
“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”
Isaiah 40: 22-23
As I thought about God observing us from on high, I measured my words carefully, “Lisa, an eagle’s nest is very large, comfortable and safe for the newborn eaglets. But as they grow, their parents remove the comfortable stuff to get them to begin to exercise their wings and learn to fly. In fact, they also limit their food by holding it high above them so they have to reach for it. Lisa, eaglets that do not learn to fly cannot survive.“
Thoughtful, as she reflected on our previous conversation about faith, Lisa responded, “Are you telling me, that to continue to long for those warm, fuzzy feelings I enjoyed for so long is somehow wrong?”
I looked at her and felt a smile working outwardly across my face as I said, “Lisa, faith is so much more than a feeling! God wants MORE for you and I when it comes to growing a mature faith. God wants you and I to implicitly invest ourselves into knowing the Scriptures and rely on His Holy Spirit– whether the feelings are there or not!”
As I spoke those words, they came at me in a new and fresh way. For so many years I have listened to Clients struggle with what they call, a “disconnect” in their faith. Many yearn to go back to those “warm fuzzy” days in their walk with Christ. They mourn their loss of the feelings that had accompanied their faith before the ravages of “life” assailed them. In all the years I have sought to walk by faith, it never occurred to me what a detriment to faith our feelings can be. In no way do I mean to assert that feelings are bad. However, I do believe that to measure the strength of our faith by our feelings is a grave error. The litmus test of a mature faith that pleases God, boils down to Jesus’ declaration recorded in John 14:15,
“If you love Me you will obey My commandments.”
As Lisa and I continued to talk, the concluding verses of Isaiah 40 opened yet another door in my mind, shedding light on the kind of faith every servant of Christ should ascribe to:
“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40: 28-31
A faith that soars cannot rely solely on feelings– such a faith
comes dangerously close to becoming self-centered rather than focused on Christ.
Just as eaglets must trust their parents to learn to fly,
a faith that soars must also learn from the loving obedience of our Savior.
In those final moments in the Counseling Room, the walls fell away as Lisa and I considered the limitless possibilities of a soaring faith . . . . No matter where you are right now in your faith, be encouraged–God has a plan and purpose for your life. No matter what you have said or done in the past, resolve to look to Christ rather than to your feelings as you make choices based on loving obedience to Him. You may not realize it immediately but I guarantee, your faith lived out in obedience will enable you to soar beyond your feelings, to a glorious eternity with Him.
All to His Glory!