Perfect Storm

While finishing up the book of Acts today–chapters 27-28–I read about Paul being sent to Rome as a prisoner. Paul’s entire story amazes me and once I find the time, I really want to study more about his life; but in these two, final chapters of Acts, that which impresses me most, is Paul’s ability to remain calm while sailing through a hurricane.

After reading it, I sat here wondering to myself, “If God wanted Paul to go to Rome (which He did, according to Acts 23:11), then why did He allow a hurricane to delay his arrival and put 276 passengers at risk?” A few different answers came to mind…

First, just because God calls us to do something or go somewhere, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy to do. Sometimes there are obstacles and/or battles that we must face before we can move forward. And storms, such as these, prepare us for even bigger storms/obstacles that we might face in the future. Therefore, we must persevere and allow the storms of life to strengthen and mature us; otherwise we’ll never be strong/mature enough to handle the greater things God throws our way!

Second, sometimes we go through storms as a test of faith. Paul passed this test with flying colors! He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to bring him through this storm safely, so he didn’t let it freak him out! He was actually the one trying to calm down the rest of the crew and forcing them to eat, since they’d been so worried about their predicament that they hadn’t really eaten in two weeks (Acts 27: 33-34).

Third, sometimes we go through storms for the sake of the people around us. Paul’s reaction to this storm greatly impressed the people around him. They saw that Paul had great faith in God, that he could foretell things that would happen next, and they were encouraged by him. They were taking Paul’s advice by the end of their journey!

I wish I had Paul’s faith! Even though I know that God is in control, I know I’d be anxious if I were facing Paul’s storm. Facing the storms of life are no easy task. Most of the time, the people around you can’t see what you’re facing, and you feel alone, scared, lost, ashamed, or sad. I faced my own reoccurring storm recently (that’s why there was such a gap between my posts) and the winds continue to blow harder and the waves keep getting bigger, with each storm; but I keep moving forward; I keep persevering. I KNOW what God’s word says, even though I feel differently during these times; but, I know that feelings can be deceiving, so I stay grounded in His promises. Lastly, I know that because the storms keep getting bigger and meaner, I’m growing and maturing in the way God intends; which, can only mean that He has something big planned for me. So please keep me in your prayers and I’ll keep you in mine.

Take care and God bless!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

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Ethical Values vs Emotional Desires

I was doing homework and came across this in my text. It’s what I learned the hard way and have been trying to explain to all the women in my life. It’s too good not to share!

Other than the most rigid people, most people will find themselves caught in a tug-of-war between their ethical standards and their emotional desires, or feelings, with the latter often leading to some breaking down of moral behavior at some point in their lives. I have a counseling practice, and I often tell my clients that feelings and emotions are like the interior design of a house–moving and poignant, even beautiful at times–but only truly useful if protected by the exterior and structure of the house–the walls and roof, which are the framework, like our ethical standards, values, and principles. Thus, although human beings are certainly emotional beings, individuals with high character are not driven to act solely on the basis of their desires and passions.

In fact, individuals who are motivated primarily by emotions are often emotionally unstable, not because their emotions are wrong, but because their values and principles are not well enough defined and/or developed to contain or regulate their emotions, oftentimes leading to the inability to control their impulses. For instance, an employee might become angry with his boss and feel like striking him, but the employee doesn’t because he values nonviolence. A person’s ethical values should then be the rudder of behavior, and although there are certainly times when people will be driven by passion, or will need to follow their hunches, emotions and desires serve people best when they aren’t chief in the decision-making process.

Another reason why it is important to understand the relationship between our ethical values and our emotions is because we often use our emotions to justify our unethical behavior. Cheating on a test is wrong, unless he test is too hard and we hate our teacher; adultery is wrong unless we’re in a loveless marriage, are extremely lonely, and fall hopelessly in love with someone else; lying is wrong, unless we need the day off and will only get paid if we say we’re sick, even though we’re not; violence is wrong, unless we’re provoked; and drinking too much alcohol is wrong, unless we’ve gone two weeks without and just had a very bad day. Thus, one of the primary functions of ethical values is to keep us on a good moral track, particularly when we find our ethical values at odds with our emotional desires and urges. Certainly there are times when emotions should lead, and we certainly do not want to become heartless in our application of rules. When someone is driven to act solely on the basis of their values or rules, they are often deemed rigid legalists. But when someone behaves in a manner that is solely driven by their feelings and desires, they are often deemed immature, volatile, and impulsive.

Martin, M.E. (2011). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings, (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

More than a Feeling

About a week ago I hit a wall. I felt incredibly alone, unloved, unwanted, and misunderstood. It’s during these moments (days or weeks), when I feel like God doesn’t care; like He’s not listening to my cries or see my tears. I feel like He’s walked away during my time of need.

Then I remembered that His word says:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)

And I realized that He’s always with me, no matter how I feel. If I feel alone, I’m not alone, because He’s right there beside me! If I feel unloved, I’m not unloved, because He loves me! If I feel unwanted, I’m not unwanted…He sent His son to die on a cross for me because He wants me! And I’m not misunderstood; He alone, understands, my hurts, fears, and deepest desires.

I am truly blessed to have a relationship with the most loving, loyal, wise, and intimate friend a person can ever have.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Britt Nicole: All This Time