Kyle Searcy: Reverend Adrenaline

Are you feeding off activity or are you clothing yourself in obedience?
Are you feeding off activity or are you clothing yourself in obedience? (iStock photo )

Have you ever "heard from God" or "felt led" to do a specific action or make a particular decision? I recently had an experience that revealed that I have sometimes thought I was hearing from God but I was actually hearing from a different source.

One Saturday morning, I ended up in the emergency room, a few days before I was to leave for a trip to Honduras. I began to feel feverish, so I slowed my hectic schedule a bit until eventually I had no choice but to lie down. Vacillating between chills and being overheated, I cocooned under a very thick blanket and went to sleep. I awoke at 3 a.m. with sweat pouring out of my body. I tried to make it to the kitchen to get water, but fainted before I could make it there. As I passed out, I had a sensation of floating away.

According to my son, my wife dove onto the floor and began declaring, "the blood of Jesus," over and over. Immediately I popped out of my stupor and became conscience again. They gave me some water and then the paramedics arrived. All my vital signs were good but they advised I go to the emergency room just to be safe. The hospital found nothing other than that a virus had attacked my body and advised that I rest.

I rested the remainder of that Saturday and by Sunday morning I felt a bit more strength. I went to church and preached in the second of our two services. After preaching I felt positively great! In fact, I couldn't believe how good I felt. I regretted giving the first service to my assistant, thinking I should have done both.

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Additionally, I deeply regretted canceling the trip to Honduras. I picked up the phone about to tell my invitees that I now could come to minister. As I was starting to make the call, a thought faintly rose in my spirit: "Are you sure you want to fly off to another country while you have a virus?" My response was, "Sure, I feel great." Another thought broke in: "Do you really think your decision is wise?" After considering this second question, I decided not to go to Honduras. It was a wise decision as I spent the next several days recovering from severe physical weakness.

Something bothered me about this whole incident. I wondered why I was so ready to go overseas when common sense should have prevailed. Having realized my error, I was ready to be a student and when the student is ready, the Teacher appears. God began to instruct me about a fundamental mistake I had made, not just this time but also several other times. There had been situations when I thought I was hearing from God, but I was actually hearing from my own adrenaline.

The chemical adrenaline is a powerful stimulant. Also known as epinephrine, adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, located in the kidneys. When a situation arises that poses a threat, the signal is sent from the brain to respond to the situation by either fighting or taking flight. The adrenaline gland responds, sending the hormone into the blood stream. This provides energy so that the muscles can respond to the threat. Substantiated reports describe how a mere-100-pound woman can lift the back of a car off her child. Adrenaline (and perhaps a few angels) has hastened to perform this feat of unusual strength.

Adrenaline affects multiple organs to collectively react in a coordinated effort. The liver, the heart, the lungs and the skin are chemically altered to intensify the ability to respond. The intensity produced in the organs and muscles deliver an emotional "high" that can last during the situation and our response, as well as for a short time after the event is over.

This feeling is what runners often feel when they break through "a wall" and push past their tiredness into what feels like a second wind. Living on adrenaline can be exhilarating for those people who break through any glass ceiling that has prevented them from reaching their goals.

The mistake I had made so many times is that I cultivated a directional grid based solely on "feeling led." If I felt led by God, I determined to proceed. If I did not feel led, I did not move forward. My challenge was that if I felt good about something I perceived I was being led by God.

As I mused over the events leading up to the Honduras trip, I realized just how many times I felt God was leading me, but in reality I was only responding to an adrenal addiction. I was so used to high levels of adrenaline in my body that when my adrenaline kicked in again I felt all was well but it was not. I needed to distinguish between adrenaline and God's affirmation.

I am putting practical steps into my life to help me avoid this trap again. Perhaps you are like me and have been "led" by the wrong feeling. Here are some things we need to do when that situation arises:

1. Downgrade your status from Messiah to man or woman. Is easy to shift into "Atlas mode" and seek to carry the world on our shoulders. Even if just to bear the burden of our personal world, it is still too much for our human frame. That is why we are directed to cast our cares upon Jesus. Even while Jesus was on the earth, He never sought to meet all needs. He only did what He saw the Father do, and yet He is the real Messiah. We need to come to grips with saying "no" to even important ministry needs so that we can have the reserves stored and ready in order to complete our true assignment. A burned-out pastor does no one any good. If you do not believe me, ask the pastor's spouse.

2. Embrace a multitude of counsel. I used to resent others weighing in on God's will for my life. It may have been an issue of pride, but God's conversations with me seemed so personal that I thought it would be difficult for others to understand my assignment. I now see enough of my mistakes to realize that I was not always hearing God properly. I appreciate that there is safety in listening to my wife and family when they encourage me to slow down. Also schedulers and assistants can often see things are getting out of control. I recently heard about a popular pastor who never decides where he will or will not speak. He has a team of five people who love him and evaluate what is the best use of his time and gift; his example has given me something to consider.

3. Realize the reward is for obedience not activity. I love the commercial that has a man interacting with a bunch of kids talking about "more." They conclude that "more" is "better." MORE has been the theme of my life for many years: more souls, more glory, more anointing, more members—more, more, more. Perhaps you are wired similarly. We must remind ourselves that the true reward is for our obedience not sacrifice or activity. To put it bluntly; if I am somewhere raising a dead person and God told me to go home and take a nap, I will be judged and rewarded for my obedience. We must learn to do the right thing, not always the "right-now" thing. This posture does not mean that we should live a life of stagnancy, wondering if every move is the perfect will of God. He gives us wisdom, gifts and a dose of common sense. We just need to realize that more may not always equal a greater reward.

4. Learn the power of laboring in rest. I believe there is provision from God for every vision God gives us. Part of that provision is the mental, emotional and physical strength to carry it out. Paul's word in Philippians 4:11-13 should guide us: "(F)or I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." These verses speak volumes. Paul learned that a corresponding strength is released from the Lord to endure any situation. If we find ourselves in a place that we are wearied and discouraged, we need to draw back and rest so that we become replenished to labor well.

5. Have fun! This is a big one. When life becomes too stressful to bear, we need to turn on the fun spout. Find ways to laugh and lighten up. Remember: "A merry heart does good, like medicine" (Prov. 17:22). I have developed a funny phrase that I say to myself whenever I feel myself getting too uptight or overly medicated with my adrenaline. I say, "Alright Reverend Adrenaline, chill out!" Reverend is not a title I go by but whenever I say this to myself I chuckle and remember the world is not mine to save—Jesus took care of that. If I embrace His yoke which He promises is easy and His burden which He says is light, I will know the difference between His leading from an adrenaline high. And that is the safe place where I want to abide!

Kyle Searcy serves as senior pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Alabama, and Norcross, Georgia.

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