Feelings are affections: gratitude, hope, joy, contentment, peacefulness, desire, compassion…

Okoboji. Fall 2013 sunrise

Lord, build our deep affections for you… Affections are not an optional ‘caboose’. Love this quote by John Piper.

Desiring God. Worship chapter. Pages 88 and selected.

In one well-known booklet the slogan appears as a train: The locomotive is “fact.” The coal car is “faith.” The caboose is “feeling.” The explanation reads: “The train will run with or without the caboose. However, it would be futile to attempt to pull the train by the caboose.” But what are the “feelings” the train of Christian living can run without? Do “feelings” refer merely to physical experiences like sweaty palms, knocking knees, racing heart, trembling lips, tearful eyes? If so, the slogan is clear and accurate.

But most people don’t think of feelings that way.

Feelings include things like gratitude, hope, joy, contentment, peacefulness, desire, compassion, fear, hate, anger, grief. None of these is merely physical. Angels, demons, and departed saints without bodies can have these “feelings.”

…When a five-year-old enters kindergarten and starts getting picked on by some second-graders and his big fourth-grade brother comes over and takes his side, he does not “decide” to feel confidence and love welling up in his little heart. He just does.

…Or consider fear. If you are camping in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and waken in the night to the sound of snorting outside and see in the moonlight the silhouette of a huge bear coming toward your tent, you do not say, “Now to what end shall I feel fear?” You do not calculate the good results that might come from the adrenaline that fear produces, and then decide that fear would be an appropriate and helpful emotion to have. It is just there!

When you stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time and watch the setting sun send the darkness down through the geological layers of time, you do not say, “Now to what end shall I feel awe and wonder before this beauty?”

When a little child on Christmas morning opens his first gift and finds his “most favoritest” rocket, which he has wanted for months, he does not think, “Now to what end shall I feel happy and thankful? We call a person an ingrate when words of gratitude are dutifully forced instead of coming spontaneously from the heart.”

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