We are a few weeks into the new year. How are you doing? Have you stuck with your commitments? Will you see them through to completion? Is this going to be a year of change…growth…progress? There are lots of factors that play into reaching our goals. Doubt is something that can destroy any hope of success and that is why I am putting it away. You should too.
Sometimes lessons are obvious. Sometimes they are tucked away and they find us. This one found me hidden away in a passage on prayer in the book of James. This is not a blog about prayer, but a principle that is born in it. Check out the passage:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” -James 1:5-8
The exhortation here is to lean into faith and put away doubt. God responds to faith and recoils from doubt, but did you see the principle?
A person who doubts is likened to a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed around by the wind. Have you ever felt like that…blowing around from here to there…out of control…no clear progress…a victim of your circumstances? I have felt like that and it wasn’t the fault of external forces. It was my fault. Doubt was having it’s way.
Doubt produces instability.
After the imagery of the blowing wave, James states it plainly. A person who is caught up in doubt is double minded and unstable. He isn’t sure about what to do or how to do it. He isn’t sure about God’s willingness. He isn’t sure if he himself has what it takes. Doubt. It produces an uncertainty and instability that sends you chasing one thing and then another. The wind blows you wherever it likes. You cannot make progress in any area of your life when doubt is steering the ship.
Do you doubt God? If you want to grow as a follower of Jesus Christ, doubt will short circuit that pursuit. You must decide whether you will trust God or not. Does he have good intentions for me? Is his word true? Does he do what he says? There is no growth without coming to place of certainty about these things. If you have questions…if you have doubts…be honest about it. Identify them and do the work to answer them. There is no faking it with God. Get to a place of confidence in him or you will always be a victim of the wind. Here is the big news: Once you trust God…really trust God, there will be no holding you back. You can step into the truths of the Scripture with certainty because you know they are true and that the God behind them is reliable. That is a powerful place to be. God responds to faith.
Do you doubt your direction? I don’t know what you want to do in this year or in this life, but I know that you must be clear about it. Doubt will strike down your progress. Doubt over what you are committed to doing…what your real goals are will produce an instablility that will hold you back. I’d like to be in better shape. Okay, but are you committed to it? What does that mean…losing twenty pounds…being able to run a half marathon…fit into your old clothes…what? Why do you want to do that? Is it really important to you? Is your “why” big enough to get you off the couch? You must be certain about it or it’s the middle of January and you are already throwing in the towel on change. The specific goal doesn’t matter. It could be about your career, finances, ministry, relationships… The thing that matters is that you cannot be uncertain. Every struggle or set back will cause you wonder if you are doing the right thing. Instability will rule. Doubt about your direction will lead you wandering all over the map. Settle the issue and then get to work.
Do you doubt yourself? Doubt kills when we doubt God. Doubt kills when we doubt our plans. Doubt also kills when we doubt ourselves. This isn’t about cheap self affirmation. The reality is that the world is quick to jump on weakness, criticize big dreams and see all the reasons that you cannot do something. But, it doesn’t matter if the world doubts. It only matters what you believe and what you do. It is natural to doubt ourselves, but we have something as followers of Jesus Christ that no one else has. The resources of God. Check out more about that here. If you are trusting God, looking for his wise guidance, and depending on his strength, step boldly into whatever you feel called to do. Don’t doubt. Believe that the God who has lead you, will help you. Do your part. Do the work and keep doing the work because you believe in the goal.
Live with conviction and there is no telling what could happen this year.