I’m an emotional being. Emotional meaning more than just active tear ducts. I feel things deeply. I am passionate, and I am easily consumed with happenings, instances, emotions. This tenderness, this sensitivity, has been an incredible avenue for experiencing an intimacy with God. It allows me to embrace a closeness to Him I wouldn’t trade for anything.
However, I’m not all emotion. I am a perpetual learner, an insatiable seeker. So I read, but find myself agreeing with C.S. Lewis when he said,
“For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books.”
I sometimes find that my heart seems unbidden (as C.S. Lewis puts it) while I’m working my way through a tough bit of theology with a pen in hand and water to hydrate. Granted, the emotional intimacy I long for and experience with Jesus is a foundation for being able to study and work my way through the things my mind finds new or foreign or difficult. This inspires me to question and to search, knowing that I am whole, secure, and unconditionally loved in Christ.
Then I read a familiar story in a different light, and gleaned something so relevant to these thoughts.
Mary and Martha, the sisters of Bethany, were on opposite ends of the emotional-intellectual spectrum of spirituality. When Jesus comes to raise their brother Lazarus, each sister met him with the same lament: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But upon reading this story again, I discover that Jesus doesn’t respond to them in the same way.
To Mary, He extends emotional comfort, grieving with her openly (John 11:28-36). He weeps with her. And she is okay with this, an explanation isn’t what she seeks.
To Martha, Jesus offers intellectual comfort, through teaching (John 11:20-27). She sort of challenges Jesus, and in response He pushes her to examine the depth, and source, of her faith. Martha was intellectually comforted by His word.
Both head and heart have important contributions to make to the body of Christ.
“There are different kids of service, but the same Lord.” 1 Corinthians 12:5
I’m not exactly sure which one is more me, which one is my default. Probably the emotion. :)