|We watched this Christmas episode last week.|
"I'm just not sure how to work this out comfortably." A young person said these words to Mrs. Elliot. She reminds us that humans have always wanted to work things out for our own comfort. But, "feelings, like thoughts, must be brought into captivity .... The weakness of much popular religion is due to having gotten one of the basic tenets of our faith backwards, making it 'God's chief end is to glory man.'" Mrs. Elliot brings up Daniel as our example. He had a will of steel, a resolve. "A resolve is not a mood .... It has nothing to do with feeling comfortable. It is a decision of the will, carried out without regard to the emotions." She says of Daniel that he "[does] not wait for desire before performing a virtuous deed, since reason and understanding are sufficient." One's emotions don't have to be consulted on the matter.
The emotional devastation and damage to Daniel was significant, after his sacrifices. He was dismayed, troubled, pale, terrified, weak, and sick. He was also greatly beloved by God. In Scripture, perhaps only Jesus is a better example of setting feelings aside, submitting his will, resolving to act righteously -- even if it doesn't feel good.
What discipline this is! To set aside the nagging suspicion in one's gut that life is not right, that it will never "feel" right again, that only discipline -- and its resulting joy in obedience -- is one's call! Mrs. Elliot and her friend are giants in the spiritual world.
Elliot continues, "I am sure that Katherine Morgan values privacy and quietness as much as I do. They are among the many things she has blithely ("gladly") given up. I say blithely because she never talks about it as a sacrifice, never makes anything of it, does it quite as a matter of course, day in and day out, year after strenuous year. She doesn't bother to consult her feelings in the matter."
Does that sound like the kind of Christian life you want?
If it's not, are you worthy of the call of Christ?
"The modern mind easily confuses emotions and facts. If it feels good, do it! What is good, it is generally assumed, ought to make us feel good. For example, if it is the will of God, we will feel good about it." Oh my, isn't this true! How many times have you heard a Christian friend say something like this: "I just don't feel good about it. It must not be the Spirit's leading. I know if God wanted me to do this, I'd feel better about it." Since when are our emotions a litmus test for God's will?
Elliot again: "There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that truly holy people are those without feelings, The very opposite is true." Jesus is her example. "He was in anguish of soul ... yet He pursued His course."
"Are we to be mere victims of our feelings, like boats adrift without sail or rudder or anchor? Are we really at their mercy? If it feels good, we do it; if it doesn't, we don't -- is that how the disciple is meant to live? Is that discipline?"
That's not the end of the chapter, but I've gone on long enough. If you desire to know more about how a Christian ought to discipline his life in all its aspects, a discipline of spirit that makes one more pleasing to God and more useful in His kingdom, this is a welcome book.
One last word: Elliot makes the point that disciplining the emotions does NOT mean getting rid of them. "If we are talking about disciplining a racehorse or a child, we are not talking about getting rid of either, but rather bringing them under control."
Discipline: The Glad Surrender -- a good book!
Elliot, Elisabeth. Discipline: The Glad Surrender. Baker, Grand Rapids: 1982. 138-147.