This is a true story about George Crane, a newspaper columnist and minister. A wife came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. She exclaimed “I not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has hurt me.” Dr. Crane offered a shocking but ingenious plan: “Go home and act like you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him of your undying love, drop the bomb that you want a divorce. That will really hurt him.” With revenge in her eyes, she smiled, “Beautiful, beautiful. Won’t he be surprised.” She followed the plan exactly for two months, exhibiting the kindness, attentiveness and love she did not feel. When she didn’t return, Crane called. “Are you ready to file for divorce?” She said, “Never! Over time I discovered that I really do love him after all.”
Whether you consider yourself sensitive or stoic, God created us to be emotional beings. Some of us are very demonstrative of our feelings; others are more reserved, concealing our feelings. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone who hasn’t experienced some level of frustration, disappointment, fear, anger or dejection in the marketplace. How do you react when you’re feeling blue? Do you sink down to half hearted effort? When you feel anxious do you maneuver or intimidate to maintain control? Have you passed on a new opportunity because you feared failure? There are two options in these situations: move ahead according to your faith or your feelings.
Don’t wait around for the right feeling to lead you anywhere noble. And feelings certainly don’t move you toward greater faith in God. Hebrews 11 lists men and women who developed a different inclination. They acted out of faith in God’s plan and promises. Against long odds, adversity and persecution, these individuals followed a “sight line”. . . the imaginary line extending between a spectator and a spectacle–like the back row in a theater to the stage; or in some cases, the end of a long swinging bridge. Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Ordinary people like Abraham, Joseph, Gideon and Rahab were plagued by uncertainty, fear and vulnerability; yet they set their sights on God’s power and wisdom, and looked past other obstacles and risks. I like the Bible’s honesty about human wavering, but in the end, we are given a long list of people who stepped out and took action according to God’s instructions, not their feelings of potential triumph or defeat. They put the “motion” in emotion into motion!
A few years ago I became very frustrated because I had over delivered on an assignment yet no decision was made–just more requests for additional information. I felt critical and cynical—and completely unmotivated to sustain maximum effort on that project. However, I started praying and realized that my primary calling is to do my work as if for God. He knew how hard I had labored. That consciousness did not generate excitement, but it did give me resolve. I determined to keep at it without any sense of enthusiasm. Before long, I actually found satisfaction in finishing the project creatively and with all my heart. Did that endeavor finally transpire? No. Did I quit in despair? Never! I discovered that taking steps according to the right “sight line” rather than my feelings is both essential and rewarding.
Like generations of followers of Christ, we will never see the fulfillment of all that God is doing, but He will commend you for taking steps of faith despite your feelings (Heb.11:39). He has plans for your future far beyond what you can see at present. What’s the next right thing for you to do? Step out . . . now.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
God, my workplace and the marketplace at large generate a hundred emotions that hinder me, but not Your purposes for me. Even when I’m easily swayed by setbacks You continue to prove Yourself faithful to me. When I find myself frozen and unable to act in faith, You remind me of Your covenant love and faithfulness. Lord, grant me the determination to do what is right. Fuel my soul to move when I’m afraid. I will trust Your Spirit to give me joy, hope, and love as gifts, rather than demanding them as a prerequisite to obedience.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King