by: Dr. Bob Gray Sr.
Have you ever had the “blues?” Have you ever wondered why you feel close to God at times, yet, at other times you feel so far from Him? If you are married, are there times when you feel close to your spouse, yet there are other times you feel the two of you do not get along at all? Do you sometimes have trouble in your relationships with other people?
You have not changed your habits, your schedule or your lifestyle in any way, yet you do not feel as close to God as you used to feel. Sometimes when you read your Bible, you feel like It is a love letter from Heaven; yet, sometimes you feel you cannot receive anything from the Bible. Sometimes you feel that prayer is fellowship with the King of kings; other times, you feel that you cannot reach Heaven. You are the same person, you are doing the same things, and you have the same God. Yet, you feel things are not always the same. I am not talking about sin; I am talking about times when you feel less zealous, less attentive, or less affectionate.
People in the Bible suffered the same lows and highs we suffer. Take, for example, Elijah. After he had a high of praying down fire from Heaven and defeating the prophets of Baal, he suffered a low time. He became discouraged, sat under a juniper tree, and declared he was the only person left who was following God. Elijah challenged King Ahab, but then he ran from Jezebel, Ahab’s wife.
Jeremiah, the great prophet of tears and compassion, also suffered low times. He prayed for Israel and wept for her as no other man had done; yet, the day came when he drew back and decided to quit. He had lost his burden, his compassion and his enthusiasm. He even wished he had never been born.
Paul, the great missionary, had low times. He wrote the book of Colossians and Galatians, warning the Jews about returning to their former religious rituals. Then he had a low time and took a Jewish vow and shaved his own head.
John Mark was traveling with Paul on one of the great missionary journeys. At Pamphylia, he lost his nerve, became homesick, and turned back. James and John decided one day that they wanted the main seats in the Kingdom.
I was working my way through Bible college, paying my tuition, and the tuition of my four children in the Christian school. I went to work one day, and there was a padlock on the door. I took my paycheck to the bank, and the banker laughed at me. He said, “Haven’t you read the paper? Your company went bankrupt.” The check was not worth the paper it was written on! How could such a thing happen to me? I decided either I could sit and cry, waiting for Ed McMahon to ring my doorbell and give me $1 million, or I could grab my snow shovel and earn some money shoveling snow. That day I earned $175 shoveling snow!
This feeling is as normal as breathing. It is necessary, because life is made that way. Christians are half human and half spirit. A man’s eternality is found in his spirit, and his natural man is found in the flesh. The spirit has unending energy is eternal. The spirit is power; it causes you to go to the heavenlies, to feel you are with Christ and He is with you. Yet, you are still trapped by your flesh and the limitations of time. You have energy on the inside that wants to do so much, but you can only go as far as your flesh allows you to go.
Everyone has low times. These low times do not come to you because you are wicked. It is not caused by not being right with God. Sometimes, the flesh and the material things of this world cannot keep up with your spirit. The spirit is flying high, and the flesh cannot keep up. Your spirit will always have the lead, but sometimes you have to slow down so your flesh can catch up with your spirit.
Sometimes, I preach on Heaven and feel so happy—almost as if I were actually there. At other times I preach on Heaven, but I feel nothing. If I have low times, then I will appreciate the high times more.
Physical appetites also have peaks and valleys. Sometimes you crave a certain food, but other times you have no desire for that food. At times your affection increases, but at other times it wanes. At times your interests’ peak, and at other times they wane.
You inhabit a changing body, yet you have the Holy Spirit Who does not change. Part of you is thrilled by the things of God, yet part of you is thrilled by the things of this world. This combination causes both valleys and peaks in every area of life. However, if you have no valleys, you cannot have peaks. If you have no lows, then you cannot have highs. You will never enjoy the highs if you do not have lows. After you suffer a cloudy day with its blustery winds, sleet, and snow, you will truly enjoy the next sunny day.
This could be compared to a person who has suffered a physical problem. For example, a stroke. His spirit is alive, but his flesh will not allow him to do what he wants to do.
These feelings are perfectly normal.
When you hammer a nail, there are two motions involved: you must pull the hammer back, and then you must strike forward with the hammer. You cannot keep hitting with the hammer without first pulling back. The more you pull back, the more force is delivered when the hammer hits.
If your car has ever been stuck in the mud or snow, you probably know you cannot escape by simply stepping on the accelerator and spinning your wheels. If you do that, you will tear up your transmission. The best way to loosen your car from the mud or snow is to rock it back and forth. The more you move back and forth, the easier it will be to release your car. When you use a saw, you must move it back and forth. When you chop wood, you must go back with the ax before you can chop down with it.
Likewise, you spend your life pulling back and pushing forward. When you feel blue, you should rock back and forth with your feelings; do not wallow in the mud. These feelings do not cause you to be a bad person. You are trapped by the flesh, and these feelings are normal. Realize, also, that these feelings are normal for other people. Men, if your wife is crying, do not become angry and accuse her of being backslidden. These feelings are a part of the normal cycle of life. They are not an indication that you are not right with God.
These feelings are necessary for success.
The drawing back times are necessary to success. You must spend some time alone, away from the crowd. You need to meditate, and spend time alone with God. You must walk alone in the woods and let the tears flow.
Maybe you are the type of person who must have the television or radio on in each room of the house. You do this because you do not want to be alone. However, you are running from the very thing that will bring you success. You must spend time meditating and thinking. You must take time to allow God to speak to your heart.
These feelings are not sinful by themselves.
These feelings of being blue, or sad, are not a sin unless you commit sin when you are feeling blue. If you quit going to church or serving God, if you become angry at God when you are blue, then you are sinning.
My wife has so many physical problems. There have been times when she has just sat down and cried, saying that she cannot take another step. This does not mean she is not a good Christian.
Jeremiah reached his limit and decided to quit. If he had continued to quit, then he would have sinned. However, he realized he had a burning in his bones, which was the Word of God. He had to keep on going.
Do not make decisions during the blue times.
You must realize that, when you have these blue feelings, you are not at your best. It is not sin, but you are not at your best. Therefore, you must not make decisions during these times. When your husband hurts you with his words, sit down and cry, but do not decide to divorce him. Your boss may hurt you, but that is not the time to quit your job. Your best decisions are made before and after the blue times. Everyone has down Sundays or Mondays. Everyone has down soul-winning times; however, this is not the time to quit or make decisions. It is not the time to quit the bus route, nor is it the time to quit the church. When Peter backslid, he followed Jesus from far away and may have been sitting on the back row, but he was still in church
You are never called to preach during the times when you have quit reading your Bible or praying. You will not be called to preach during those times when you quit soul winning. When you are backslidden, you will not be called to do anything. Your best decisions are made on the mountaintop.
Seek counsel from someone who is on a high.
When you need advice, you should not seek advice from someone who is down. Find someone who is shouting and walking with God. Seek counsel from your pastor.
Keep reading your Bible, even if you think you are not getting anything out of It. There is power in the Bible. Stay in It, and God will speak to your heart.
When you are down, be a “put on.”
In two different places in the Bible, God tells us to “put on” the new man. A hypocrite is not the church member who gets drunk on Saturday night and then puts on a white shirt and tie to go to church on Sunday morning. The real hypocrite is the person who is saved on the inside, but does not look like it on the outside. Even though you do not feel like going to church and serving God, “put on” the new man, and pretend you want to do so.
Be with people who are on topside.
When you are down, being with people who are on topside will make a difference for you. Do not be around people who are down, because they will drag you down more.
One day, I was sitting in an airport in West Virginia. The pilot could not start the engine. They told us that if it did not start soon, we would not be able to leave the airport before three o’clock in the afternoon. That meant I would not be able to make it back to Longview in time for the evening service.
Several businessmen started getting upset, and they yelled at the lady at the counter, even though she could not do anything about the situation. She was very frustrated. I walked up to her and told her I had good news for her. I told her how to be saved. I turned around and told the businessmen they had complained long enough, and I had something that would solve their grouchy attitude. They suddenly felt led to use the restroom! While they were gone, the plane finally was ready to go. The lady let us on the plane, but the businessmen in the restroom missed the plane! It pays to be topside even when things are going wrong.
Yes, you are having a down time, but that is not a good reason to leave God. You can frown at the pastor, but it will not affect his preaching. You can pull your children out of the Christian school during your down time, but the church will not be hurt by your action.
Instead of hurting yourself, realize you are on your way to Heaven, and sit down and enjoy the trip. The blue times will come, but it is what you do during those times that will make the difference for you.
Dr. Bob Gray Sr.