We’re in the middle of my series addressing the baggage we can carry as we walk along in this journey following Christ. In week one, I introduced the idea of baggage. Last week we talked about the Trinity of Self as our first bag. This week we’re addressing doubt.
Have you ever watched a child wait in line for a ride at an amusement park? He starts out patient, a sweet smile in anticipation of what’s to come. A little while later he starts asking how long we’ll be waiting. He might ask for a snack. Then, as the minutes march on, he might lean against your leg and starting whining for your cell phone to play games. As minutes threaten to turn into an hour, what starts out as faith that the line will move turns into misery that the line isn’t moving fast enough. And then he starts asking the big questions, usually with a quivering chin. Will it ever move? Will my turn ever come?
Even as adults we can relate to this. In fact, a couple weeks ago I felt like that anxious little boy waiting in line. Why, God? Why not yet? I’d been checking my emails and voicemails, certain that news would come that would confirm God’s call on my life and His plan that I’d seemingly fearlessly leapt into. Confirmation from God doesn’t always come in an email. At least that hasn’t been His delivery system for me. And if you’re waiting for it on Facebook or Instagram, my suspicion is that it isn’t there either.
So I lifted my arms during worship in church. The music thrilled my senses. I could feel the pounding of the drums in my chest (we do it loud in my church), and I fought to let go of the doubt that waiting had given to me. Shaking my head, tears streaming, fingers outstretched, I was reminded of Mark 11:24 when Jesus promises His disciples that they need to believe that they have already received whatever they ask for in prayer. That is the antidote to doubt.
That little boy in line gets through because he can see what his future will look like. He can see the roller coaster as it loops around the track in front of him. The doubt gives way because his vision fills in the gaps. We don’t always get the vision; that’s why it’s called faith – it’s the evidence of things unseen.
But that doubt, ug, it’s brutal. If we’re weighed down with it, our blessings are left in the Lost and Found. And that prayer that we sent heavenward is waiting in limbo for us to believe we deserve to receive it.
What Kind of Doubt Are We Talking About?
Now let me clarify: this is NOT a doubt of the existence of God. Or if Jesus is real. Or even if Jesus loves us. This doubt runs the gambit:
- Am I worthy of this?
- Is this really what God wants from me?
- Am I really giving God all that I should be?
- Can I really do what God has called me to do?
- Am I even sure of what God has called me to do?
Sound familiar? This refrain can sometimes be the anthem in my own doubting mind. And it kills me because I know these doubts keep me from the action steps that God has placed in my life. Do these questions resonate with you?
Your doubt comes from the questions you ask that aren’t rooted in your trust in God’s promises for you. Take a moment and think of three questions that keeping spinning around your baggage claim. How do you think they might be holding you back?
Our doubt – questions we ask over and over again – keep us from the transformative power of God. As I stood in worship that day, my arms held high, I assumed a posture of submission. Because in all honesty, the doubt was too heavy for me to hold up; I had to push it up to God. As I stood there, my husband witnessed my moment, and I felt him stroke my back. Then I remembered another verse in the book of James.
Why Doubt Doesn’t Get You Anywhere
I love how James doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I don’t think he’d be the friend I’d seek if I needed a hug. He’s more the person I’d go to when I need a swift kick in the pants or some tough love. He reminds us that God will freely grant wisdom to anyone who asks for it, but here’s the kicker: we have to believe. If we don’t, we’re like a wave tossed by the sea. As if those words aren’t tough enough, here’s the final punch: the person who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 11:5-8). Hello gut check!
Here we are begging God for big things and then letting our doubt come between receiving those very things we’re desperate for. Here I was praying daily for this big thing, but instead of believing He was good for it and that His promises are bigger and more powerful than my doubt, I was believing that God was going to let this venture end in rejection. I was literally waiting for it. My doubt had whittled away my confidence, and in doing so, it was sucking the power out of those prayers I’d been dutifully praying daily. I was turning my prayer life into a hamster in a cage, round and round with no place to go.
When we’re letting those questions bounce around in our hearts and our spirits, we’re essentially telling God we don’t believe He’s willing to do what we desire or we need, even when David reminds us in Psalm 37 that when we delight in Him He’ll give us the desires of our heart.
When we ask questions we’re making it about us instead of believing in what He has promised. And the promise that overpowers doubt is this: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:24).
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