So how are you feeling today? Happy? Frustrated? Overwhelmed?
Popular psychology tells us that feelings are “neither right nor wrong.” But I want to tell you that feelings do not necessarily mirror the facts.
I witnessed this firsthand a few years ago when my husband and I headed out with my boss, Dr. Marc Hirsh, and his wife, Elizabeth for our annual Labor Day weekend cruise on their thirty-two-foot Bayliner. The weather looked rather foul, but Elizabeth had checked with her brother who lives right on the Gunpowder River leading into the Chesapeake Bay, and he assured us the weather reports didn’t look that bad despite a hurricane that was heading northward up the coast. (We later learned he had accidentally listened to the wrong forecast!)
So we took off anyway, knowing that Marc and Elizabeth were seasoned boaters—although the whitecaps on the usually calm river should have been our first clue it wasn’t a good idea.
We had a short two-hour cruise ahead of us, but it wasn’t long before the white caps turned into three-foot waves. The wind whipped up, and then the thunder, lightning, and rain came. At first we all laughed and enjoyed the warm rain soaking us as the boat pounded through the waves. But then I stopped laughing and my stomach started rebelling. Elizabeth handed me a supply of Ziploc bags, which I started filling.
The waves were now five feet high and crashing clear over the top of the boat’s windshield, drenching us. It was nearly impossible for Marc to see out the rain-splattered windshield, and my husband and Elizabeth were trying to read the navigational charts and look for the numbered buoys, which would keep us in the correct channel away from large shipping vessels, shallow water, and crab pots. We were too far out to turn back toward home, yet not sure we could make it to our planned destination.
And then it got really bad.
Marc announced that according to the boat’s compass we were headed in exactly the wrong direction: south when we should have been heading north.
We all were sure we hadn’t turned around—Elizabeth was especially positive we still were pointing in the right direction. She was convinced she would have noticed if the boat had made an about-face. From past experience I knew she usually was right whenever the two of them had a boating disagreement.
The three of us looked at Marc, waiting to see what he would do. (Well, I didn’t look long because I was busy praying there were enough Ziploc bags.)
After a long pause, Marc posed his now-famous question: “Should I trust my wife . . . or the magnetic poles of the earth?”
It wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d gone with Elizabeth’s feelings because she was so adamant about them, but his scientific brain won out and Marc turned the boat 180 degrees.
Within a few moments, we sighted buoys, which confirmed that we, indeed, had been going in the wrong direction despite all of us “feeling” otherwise.
The storm raging around us had distorted reality and our feelings had fallen fickle.
The same thing can happen in the storms of life. We can feel as if we’re unable to cope or that we have no hope. These are the times we need a compass—something that always will steer us in the right direction. A magnetic compass always will point you to the North Pole, and God’s Word always will point you to His unchanging truths and promises.
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Like Marc as he captained our boat that stormy trip, it’s your choice whether or not to trust the magnetic poles of the earth.
The grass does wither. Flowers do fade. Troubles will disrupt lives. But God’s Word stands forever. Open up a Bible and let God speak the truth your anxious heart needs to hear.