Shannon Dittemore

April1st

4 Comments

As an eager Sunday-schooler I knew all the moves to this song.

God’s not dead. NO! He is alive.
God’s not dead. NO! He is alive.
God’s not dead. NO! He is alive.
I can feel Him all over me.

There’s more to it, of course. Lyrics about feeling God in my hands and feet. Feeling Him in the air. We got to really feel God all over the place in that little Sunday School classroom.

As I got older, though, this juvenile song stirred up quite a bit of confusion in my mind. There are times, you see, when I don’t feel God at all. Not a lick. Not a tickle. Definitely no goosebumps. And there are times when I feel unloved, unwanted, alone, and abandoned. Those certainly aren’t attributes of God as listed in the Bible. So, what does that mean? Does that mean God’s dead? Is God’s aliveness based on my ability to feel Him? Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. If there’s no one there to see it fall, does it make a sound?

That sort of thinking is ludicrous, right? Of course the tree makes a sound, and of course, God’s not dead. But, so often we live our lives as if He were.

For whatever reason, we each spend time walking through life feeling very much alone. Sometimes our own actions have led us to dark and silent places–places we wish God would just whisk us away from. Sometimes the very season we find ourselves in requires solitude, and we interpret our distance from others as distance from God. Sometimes, God speaks to us ever so softly and we must learn to quiet the world around us long enough to listen.

And then there are times when I wonder if the God of all Creation–the God who made you and knew you before you were born–knows that you depend too much on your emotions and not nearly enough on the Word. Don’t mistake me. God is the one who created our emotions and God is the one who, so often, allows us to feel His presence. But, our feelings are not to be depended on to the detriment of Scripture.

Like you, I feel lots of things in the course of a day. Love, hate, fear, resentment, sadness, pain. I feel anxious and lost. I have disappointments that drown me tears, and passions that turn my vision red. If salvation… If God’s existence was based on the feelings of humanity, we’d have killed Him long ago.

Oh wait. We did.

Just over 2,000 years ago, fear and anger reigned supreme in Jerusalem and an innocent man was crucified. I’m sure He wasn’t the first innocent man put to death, but this time hatred and confusion killed God. Emotions ran untamed and godless hands nailed our Savior to a tree. Oh, Christ wasn’t surprised. Not by any means. He knew the innate frailty of our human state. Our ridiculous dependence on how we feel. He knew the assertion the He was the “King of the Jews” would incite a rebellion. He knew some would believe–some would feel His Lordship–and He knew that some wouldn’t. Still, He came. He came because without His sacrifice we would be eternally separated from Him. All the warm fuzzy feelings in the universe can’t change that fact.

It isn’t our emotions that are bad, friends. It’s our utter dependence on them. Sheryl Crow croons loud and clear over radio waves the world-over, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” To that I can only repeat what Proverbs tells us twice: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” So often we bank on what seems right. On what feels good.

And unfortunately, the Sanhedrin thought the same way. It seemed only right to them to turn Christ over to the Roman authorities. Their eyes were blind to the true nature of Christ: completely God, completely man, and wholly able to carry the wrongs of the world to the cross and there defeat sin and death forever.

That’s right! He defeated death. Three days after a city dominated by their emotions murdered Christ, that same God-man rose from the dead. See, your fear and hate, your sadness and desperation can convince you that God is dead, but history tells us a different story. Whether you feel it or not, God walked out of that tomb and is alive and well today. Your feelings are neither here nor there on the matter. And though God often fills us with happiness, peace, and joy, the absence of them in our lives doesn’t change the truth that the God of the universe–the God who created you and me, the God who died at the hands of angry people, and defeated death in spite of all our feelings on the subject–is still in control, still calling your name, still knocking on the door of your heart.

Believe me, friends, God’s not dead. He is alive. Not because I can feel it, but because it’s true. The Bible tells me so.

Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. –Acts 2:22-24

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4 Comments

  • Comment by Lori Stanley Roeleveld — April 1, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    It sure is hard to feel sometimes, isn’t it, Shannon? Certainly is hard to feel anything but wet, cold and dark around here. I just watched a movie, recently, “Faith Like Potatoes”, where Angus Buchan prays for rain to stop a fire and it comes. We were all praying for the rain to stop as the waters rose but it kept coming. What’s up with that? Of course, I know, it’s all about His will, not my will but my feelings aren’t always happy with that. Great post. Thanks!

  • Comment by Karen — April 1, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

    Good words… something we all need to remember when feelings are overwhelming us… or when we feel nothing…

  • Comment by judy mccollough — April 2, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

    Shannon, your writing makes it clear that you are rooted and grounded in the Word of God – kudos to your parents for raising you not only in the House of the Lord but teaching you the reality of the Word. Credit to you for taking it upon yourself to make the effort to search the scriptures and make the Word of God your own life’s roadmap. Last of all, thanks be to God for young women such as yourself who help me to have Hope for this Generation. The world needs you now more than ever….

  • Comment by Shan — April 4, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    Thank you for all your support, Judy! I do have rather wonderful parents! I am also grateful for the other young women God has placed in my life, along with the pillars of faith I look up to. God has seen fit to place me within a group of women loving and serving Christ and I agree. There is hope for this generation!

    Lori – It is certainly hard to feel God at times! That is why I’m so grateful that it’s not at all about me and my feelings. And we are praying for you and your family. Your faith during this wet season is an inspiration to us all!

    And Mom – It’s so hard for everyone, isn’t it? As I settle into adulthood (I know! I’m 31, but sometimes I forget!) I find that my feelings seem to dictate more than I’d like them to. Time to die to myself when that happens. I seem to need to do that a lot.

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