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Staying engaged (Nate)

October 7, 2008

1 Kings 8 from the Bible. (check it out at www.biblegateway.com)

10 Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover’; but the LORD has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” 11 He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed. Then the man of God began to weep.
12 “Why is my lord weeping?” asked Hazael.
“Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,” he answered. “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.”
13 Hazael said, “How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?”
“The LORD has shown me that you will become king of Aram,” answered Elisha.

A little window into the internal struggle of an emotionally challenged man: I tend to make decisions logically and with quite a bit of thought OR quickly and impulsively based on instinct and my ability. Very few feelings trickle into my decision making process, let alone everyday thinking. So it’s been a great ride for me over the last 7 years of being connected to my wife, Rachael, who just happens to be amazingly sensitive and wonderfully emotive in all kinds of good ways. I’ve gone through periods of time where I was convinced I didn’t feel things that she did and certainly not on the same amplitude. But it turns out that under the tough callouses I do have similar feelings and some of them may even be just as strong as my wife’s!

So as I read this passage about Elisha as part of my daily time with God, I visually tripped over the section where it says “the man of God began to weep.” I don’t cry easily and can’t remember the last time I wept. I’m glad the next couple of lines explain that he was weeping because of what Hazael (cool name) was going to do to the Israelites, God’s chosen people. Okay, so maybe if Hazael was going to kill my mom or Rachael I might cry, but weeping over a people group who currently are still living?! Crazy. I might even go so far as to say emotionally unstable, I mean get a grip! The people are still alive.

I’m not sure what Elisha’s day-to-day activities were. Maybe he didn’t have a whole lot to do and so he was really emotionally invested in God’s work whenever God spoke or did something. On any given day I’m flying around at warp speed thinking about what I’m going to do next, what I’ll eat next, how can I be entertained, or who is griping and needs a problem solved. I can’t be emotionally involved in all of that. It would just be too complicating. And probably painful.

What if some of the rushing around is self-medication so we won’t feel the pain? I know on our last trip to Guatemala, I stayed busy the whole time even as we saw tremendous brokenness in the lives of orphans, and keeping busy kept from feeling anything very strongly. Strong emotions scare me. And not just in other people. If something causes me to feel very strongly it often overwhelms me and I kind of shut down with the hope that if I don’t feel, maybe the thing that’s stirring up these emotion won’t affect me.

Rachael tells me that emotions are an indicator, kind of like physical sensation that lets me know how I’m interacting with the world. What’s more, emotions can indicate how important something is to me; they can show my true priorities.

Elisha’s priorities amaze me.

He wept over a not-yet slaughter. When questioned about the truth of such a thing even happening, he plainly states that the Lord has shown him. That’s it. Rock solid faith and 100% emotionally involved in God’s work. What is that like? I hope to find out.

This whole Guatemala thing has challenged me to stay emotionally involved in God’s work. I care about kids and orphans and the sadness and poverty that we see when we go there. I don’t care on the level that I think Elisha did, but I care some. My prayer is that God will make me a more effective piece of this pipeline by connecting me emotionally to the work he’s doing. I want to get so excited I nearly soil myself, expecting great things from God. I want to weep and moan when people groups get wiped out. But I don’t. Not yet at least.

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