Sermon Illustrations

Where Moods Must Get Off! (11.02.05--Faith That Flies!--Jeremiah 21:1-2)

I’m by no means an exercise nut! Despite the fact that I have had a daily routine for many years which includes ten minutes on the weight bench and ten on the elliptical trainer, the fact that most mornings you will find me there means very little in the way of desire. I exercise because I am compelled to, not because I desire to.

There are days when going down into the basement to confront the bench and the trainer are actually exhilarating. There are those days when I find myself on the bench and can’t remember descending the steps to get there. Then there are those mornings when I wake up troubled and preoccupied with the things of the day. Perhaps I had spent the night tossing and turning about something someone had said or done the day before. Perhaps there is an upcoming meeting or task that is disagreeable tomorrow. Whatever the case, there are those mornings when I am, as my kids would say, an Oscar and not a Kermit. It is on those mornings that the bench and the trainer loom foreboding, even menacing; when my moods become powerful enough to push away all desire and reveal only the naked compulsion to do it. These are the defining moments for anyone committed to an exercise plan. If desire is the only thing holding you to it, the time will come when, lacking any desire, your moods will win out and the exercise program is jeopardized.

In the way of faith, our moods often affect us in the same way. C. S. Lewis writes: “Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of digestion.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, bk. III, chap,. 11, para., 5, pp., 123-124.)

There are days when faithfulness, like exercise, is difficult; days when our moods push our faith into the corner and mock us, even taunt our ability to remain a believer. We need to remember that God has a plan for us even in the days when we don’t feel well, when we can’t quite grasp His presence in our lives. Even when our moods are dark, God has a plan for us that day. Living out our faith must be compelling even when we don’t have the desire to believe.

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