Emotion vs. Will


Chapter 7  Your emotions do not make you a hypocrite.

Hannah hammered on this concept twice in “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,” so here’s the second round.

Once I started to live a life of trust, I hesitated to say, “I am completely the Lord’s,” because I feared it wasn’t true. I won’t always feel that my surrender is true, but God doesn’t seek my feelings. He wants my will. I have surrendered all of life to Christ, committing to trust in him. This will not always show in my emotions but can persist in my will.

When you consider your emotions to be the test of what is true, you’ll often feel like a hypocrite in declaring things to be real that only your will has decided. Your emotions, though, do not define who you are. Your will decides this.

Say “I will believe; I do believe! I choose to believe!” Make up your mind to believe what God says simply because he says it, disregarding any feelings to the contrary. Don’t be troubled about your emotions. They will, sooner or later, come into harmony with your will.

You can’t always control your emotions, but you can control your will. Only your will needs to be surrendered to God. In the past, your will has been under the control of sin and self. Now, though, God has called you to yield your will up to him so that he may take control of it. How do you do that?

When faced with sin, pray, “I will never again consent in my will to yield to this sin. Take possession of my will, Dear Lord, and work in me.” You may find deliverance immediately. You may have to ask repeatedly. Either way, keep your will surrendered to him, and you will be freed.

Two questions determine whether or not you are living a live hidden with Christ.

  • Have you decided in your will to believe him?
  • Do you choose to obey?

If the answer is “Yes,” then you are in the Lord’s hands. This transaction with God is just as real in his sight when your will acts alone as when every emotion agrees.

We don’t need to be concerned about our feelings, but only the state of our will. Then all the scriptural commands to yield ourselves to God, to present ourselves a living sacrifice to Him, to abide in Christ, to walk in the light, and to die to self become possible for us.

This work is a revised and condensed version of Smith, Hannah Whitall.  The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875.

Trust and Worry; Oil and Water

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chapter 6  Choose to have faith.

Faith is simply believing God when he says he’s done or will do something for us. Then we trust him to keep his word. We trust other people to accomplish tasks for us on a regular basis, leaving matters entirely in their hands. We eat in restaurants, hire babysitters, book cars, and board planes. We couldn’t live normal lives without trusting other people. Shouldn’t we be even more willing to trust our God?

Someone might say, “I only believe in what I can see and feel and touch.” That can’t really be the case for any of us. Otherwise, every time we looked at any news outlet, we’d have to lay it aside, saying, “I don’t believe a word of this since I have no faith. I can’t believe there is any such person as so and so, because I’ve never seen him. And how can I even believe a particular country exists?  I’ve never been there.” That would, of course, be ridiculous. Our friends and family would be insulted as well, when we stated our lack of faith in their promises.

Does it make any sense at all to believe man’s assertions and not believe God’s? Could we rationally commit our dearest earthly interests to weak and failing humans, yet remain afraid to commit our interests to the Savior who laid down his life for us?  Consider this:

  • Trust and worry are no more compatible than oil and water. When we believers really trust the Lord about something, we can and should cease to worry about that very thing.
  • Do you love the Lord Jesus? Then show others how worthy he is of being trusted by demonstrating your faith in him.
  • You have trusted him in a few things, and he has not failed you. Trust him now for everything. He will do more than you could even imagine.
  • You trust the management of the universe and of all outward creation to the Lord God Almighty. Can the complexities of your life be so much more difficult than that?

Dare to abandon yourself to power of the Lord Jesus. Make this a matter of your will, and simply choose to do so. Say, “I will believe. I can trust my Lord, and I will trust him, and nothing will make me doubt my wonderful, glorious, faithful redeemer.”

Every act of trust will make the next act less difficult. In time, trusting will become like breathing, a natural and unconscious response to the will of our loving Lord.

Begin today!

This work is a revised and condensed version of Smith, Hannah Whitall.  The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875.

Hannah’s Secret Chapter 4: Surrender. (Or, Just Imagine…)

Imagine this.

You become very sick and are fortunate enough to see a famous specialist. At your first appointment, you begin by saying, “Please take me as a patient. I’ll follow your directions as long as they make sense to me. In some circumstances, though, I’ll choose to judge things for myself and follow my own advice.”

That doctor would probably refuse to take your case, saying, “I can’t help you unless you put yourself into my hands without reserve and trust my directions completely.”

We need to put our lives completely into the hands of God, following his directions without reserve. Surrendering to him boils down to saying, under all circumstances, “Your will be done.”

If you don’t know God, that sort of obedience may look difficult or even scary. But to those who know him, it is a happy and restful choice, because:

He is your Father.

He loves you.

He knows what is best for you.

And it is in his power to take the very best care of you.

Suppose a child of yours came to you and said, “I’ve made up my mind to let you be in charge. I’m always going to obey you and do whatever you think best.” How would you feel? Would you say to yourself, “Aha, now I can make my little one miserable?” Of course not! You’d fill the life of that child with all that was good, doing your best despite any fallibility in your choices and limits in your power. Surely we ought to have more confidence in saying, “Your will be done,” to our heavenly Father than any child could have in saying it to an earthly parent.

Step one toward a life of peace is surrender. Step two is faith, faith that we have a Savior from the power of sin, faith that he is now our deliverer and Lord, and faith that he wants the best for us this very day.

We cannot achieve a happy life of trust and peace by some special effort or talent on our part. It is only received as a gift of God. A gift is of no benefit until it is recognized and utilized by its recipient. Here are two ways to lay hold of the gift you have been offered.

1. Say these words, “Jesus saves me now!” with the conviction that The Lord Jesus does the work of saving you in every moment.

2. Pray this prayer. “Lord Jesus, I believe you deliver me from all the care and unrest of my life. I believe you are stronger than sin and can keep me from falling. I give myself to you, holding nothing back, body soul and spirit. Make me into anything your love and wisdom chooses. I trust you completely starting now.”

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Hannah’s Secret, Chapter Two

Our job is to trust, and God’s part is to work.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

If we are to be delivered from the grip of sin, if it really is God’s plan to give us “everything good for doing his will” and to “work in us what is pleasing to him,[1] then we need to be transformed, and we certainly can’t transform ourselves.

Most of us have tried to make ourselves holy and have failed miserably. But God will do it if we put ourselves into his hands and trust him without reserve. When we trust, the Lord works, and a great deal is done, not by us, but by him. He disciplines and trains us by inward exercises and outward circumstances. He makes everything in our lives submit to his purpose of making us, day by day, into the image of Christ.

Sanctification, being made holy and set apart for God, is a matter of surrender and trust on our part, and a process of development on God’s part.[2] We must each become as a lump of clay in the hands of the Divine Potter, consciously surrendering to him and continually trusting him. Expect him to change you, making you into a vessel that honors him and is prepared for his purposes. 

His way of accomplishing what we have entrusted to him may be vastly different from the way we have in mind, but he knows best. We must trust him to use us and our circumstances. Otherwise, we will be as clay taken out of the hands of the Potter, wondering, even as we refuse his workings, why we are not complete and perfect vessels.

His pace may not be as swift as we would choose. Maturity is never reached in a moment but is the result of God’s Holy Spirit working within us. A lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter, is just what the potter wants it to be at any particular time during each hour of the process. Even in a state of incompletion, it pleases him; but it is very far from being matured into the vessel the potter intends to make it at last. We have to be patient.

Ask the Lord to work in you in whatever way he chooses. Then, by an exercise of faith, continue to surrender to him, following immediately any direction you know is from him. When we do that, we are pleasing God simply by our trust and submission. God has given us the gift of free will. Therefore, his work in us depends upon our choosing to submit to him. Still, we must understand clearly that it is God’s working within us, not our own work from our own determination, that is the cause of all I will cover in this book.

[1] Hebrews 13:21

[2]May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and will do it.”  I Thessalonians 5:23-24


Hannah Smith taught me about trust, writing:

“We have trusted the Lord in a few things, and he hasn’t failed us. We can trust him now in all things, and see if he doesn’t do far above all we could ever ask or even think, not by our own ability, but by his own mighty power. It isn’t difficult for us to trust the management of the universe and of all creation to the Lord. Can the particular needs of our lives be so much more complex?”

When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, making slaves legally free, true freedom lagged behind. No slaves experienced that freedom until they heard about it, came to believe it, and acted on it. The fact alone of freedom was not enough.

We’ve been given emancipation from fear. But that fact is not enough. We must come to believe it, to act on it. It’s time to put our total confidence in the Lord who loves us, to start living moment by moment with total and childlike trust in him.

Trust is a choice. When we make faith an active effort, a willful determination, eventually it becomes a natural habit. Each act of trusting makes the next one easier.

Matthew 17:20 quotes Christ as saying, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” As believers, we have at least as much faith as a tiny grain of mustard. And so, let each of us say, “I can trust my Lord, and I will trust him!”

When we trust God completely, we give him glory and we receive peace. Even in times of hardship, we can rest on the incontrovertible fact that our Lord is in control. When those times come, be patient, wait, trust, and remain free.  

photo credit: mengmengniu via Unsplash.com

I Beg to Differ


bench-560435_1280 pixabay pepperminting

John Wesley is commonly credited with these words: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Great words! However, allow me to add a bit of perspective.

First of all, not all scholars agree that John Wesley actually said—or penned—those words.

Secondly, they can become a stumbling block to some of us. If I take that quote literally and do all the good I can at all the time I can, my ‘as long as ever I can’ isn’t going to last very long.

  • Jesus rested.
  • The Bible tells us that sleep is a gift.
  • Resting on the Sabbath is a command.

How do we balance the challenge to do all that we can with what I see as a Scriptural mandate to maintain some sort of balance in our lives? The only answer that makes sense to me is the need to do what my Houston pastor advised: Lean in, listen and obey. (Thank you, Ty VanHorn.)

Hannah Smith put it this way: We have nothing to do today but mind.

And Jan Karon, in her lovely Mitford series, quotes Madame Guyon, writing, “Rest. Rest. Rest in God’s love. The only work you are required now to do is to give your most intense attention to His still, small voice within.”

And every day, minding the still small voice of our Lord is likely to be plenty. Sometimes it will lead us to a physical or mental challenge that will exhaust our resources. Most of the time, when that happens, I believe our Wise Ruler will soon nudge us into a season of rest and recuperation. Rest can require just as much trust, obedience and self-discipline as tackling a hearty to do list. Giving in to the need to rest can be quite a blow to an ego that has tied its worth to work.

Remember, though, that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Our good works were planned for us long ago, and the One who planned them equipped us for them. If you’re stretched to the limit, have forgotten to rest, rarely sleep enough or have convinced yourself that Sabbaths were merely meant for another time, I beg you to reconsider.

Perhaps the words of my opening quote should be tweaked a bit to read: “Do all the good God asks you to do, in all the ways he has equipped you to do it, whenever or wherever he provides the opportunity, to all the people he asks you to serve, but never ignore his call to rest.”