Doubt

Dubious Undertones

Not for lack of writing, Road Report posts have faltered a bit.  A growing list of paused messages await further inspiration.

An off-blog comment from a reader a few months ago scored a direct hit to some of my strongest  doubts about this blog project - that my writing lacks the fluidity I desire, that a labor over messages.

Too often, Road Report Journal is way too much like my actual journal and thoughts - choppy and meandering and only occasionally lucid, natural and crisp.

I realize that doubt and brooding have dubious spiritual undertones.  The song, “Through His Eyes” by Jenny and Tyler regards how Satan taunts along those lines.

Blank pages for months
And the sound of his voice rings in my head
Saying I should give up
And all that I write is meaningless

He says, no one else has to know about this
No one else has to know

Discouragement and secrecy gives “him” away. (See Zechariah 3: 1-2; Revelations 12:10)

Abandoned guitars
Dust covered shelves, laundry piled high
Tell me I’m not enough
And I know that they are wrong
But I still believe these lies

He says, no one else has to know about this
No one else has to know
No one else has to know

More discouragement and secrecy and, of course, lies.  This is Satan’s M.O. (See John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:14)

To recognize a counterfeit, study the real thing.  Our enemy’s intent is that we give in to our doubts and despair, set aside our resolve and by all means, abandon and question the claims of our Bible while slowly succumbing to "his” lies.  

Faith is the antidote to doubt.

...whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. (Jesus, Matthew 21:22)
… faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (
Romans 10:17)

Satan deceives believers into trusting feelings while Jesus teaches that faith intentionally engages God’s word, developing discipline to connect feelings with the power of the Holy Spirit at work within our beings (hearts, mind, spirit).  

Mature believers still doubt but they languish less before bringing doubt and disappointment directly to the Lord.  Siding with God is the best way to rebuff and the lose the tempter.  (James 4:7).

When what I’m doing isn’t going where I think it should be going or working out how I  thought, I tend not to notice the “I” part of “my” desires while the urge to silently slink away and not attract any attention is very, very strong.

At these low points, Jesus will find us if we don’t go find him first. (Psalm 139)  “Transfer your load to me,” he essentially urges.  He takes everything and frees me to live large no matter what is going on or how I feel about it.  

Jenny finishes the song with a flourish

Ooh I want to see myself through Your eyes
Ooh Father help me see myself through Your eyes

To see ourselves as God sees us is to reflect the radiance of Jesus. Others might notice us doing so.

-------------------------------------

Notes:

1.  Jenny’s explanation of their song, "Through His Eyes"
2. Photo by Tobias van Schneider on Unsplash

Take the adventure that comes

Aslan and Lucy from "The Last Battle," Chronicles of Narnia. (see notes for image source)

Aslan and Lucy from "The Last Battle," Chronicles of Narnia. (see notes for image source)

I write this for myself but feel free to read along.  This is a reminder for now and to have here to come back to again and again.  Because these feelings repeat.

I’m discouraged and I don’t feel like writing.  What do I have to say that anyone would want to read?  But here I am, writing anyway.

I find myself lacking a sense of call or purpose to wake up to today; or a future or dream to give the day some perspective.  But another day awaits that needs to be lived out.  

This awful, foreboding sense of failure washes over me, a strong sense of having fallen short but not knowing what hand I had in it or how to get back to generally succeeding again except to just live into this new day, do my best and lean into the Lord; And not take myself too seriously.

Today’s to-dos seem more than can be done in a day.  Some are in my sweet spots but some will stretch me.  Lately, more stretchy ones are in the mix than I prefer but I’m kinder on myself as I get older, more O.K. with good enough being good enough than when I was younger.  I’ve learned a thing or two about imagined perfection and excellence and their associated costs.  May I invoke that learning when today’s hour is late and some unchecked items remain.

“We must go and take the adventure that comes to us,” said a character in C.S. Lewis’ “The Last Battle,” the seventh of seven books of his Chronicles of Narnia.  The remark was offered as our heroes faced a daunting situation.  What to do or how to proceed was not at all clear while peril was certain and the odds were heavily stacked against the good guys.

In the case of these stories, the adventure-takers were all believers in and followers of Aslan,  the lion Lord of Narnia that Lewis modeled after Jesus Christ.  The adventure was viewed as one that Aslan had a hand (or in this case, paw) in allowing or causing to come to them. They knew he expected them to go forward despite their uncertainty.

So must I.  You too.  To go forward, live today.  

As we take on our to-do lists, keep the story God wrote, just for us, at hand.  Its guidance and wisdom is strong.  Filling its pages are the stories of other’s journeys very much like mine and yours.  

Whether you see yourself taking on the grand or the mundane, God levels every task and adventure, somehow rendering the grand mundane and the mundane grand.

Speaking to the sense of call or purpose, Os Guiness wrote,

“We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone. We are not called first to special work but to God. The key to answering the call is to be devoted to no one and to nothing above God Himself.”
— Os Guiness, “The Call - Finding and fulfilling the central purpose of your life”

 

So here is the new day, brought directly from God, the author and source of all life and every moment of every day. We believers in him enjoy relationship with him through his son Jesus.  

Therefore, thanks to his mercy and grace, the burden of my past can be shed so I start this day with a clean slate, wholly forgiven and new.

O.K….(deep breath).  Ready now to “go and take the adventure that comes.”


In All Things — 2008 Ornament

FOR THE PUZZLED

As Christmas ornament-making has become a tradition for me, I periodically jot down ideas about what God is doing in my life. But this year, the process was clouded by my feelings about being jobless for the first time in my life after being unexpectedly dismissed from my position as President of CLF just three months short of my 30th anniversary!

Turning to prayer and the Bible for inspiration and guidance, I ran across Romans 8:28 and held onto its promise – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This Christmas, I dedicate this year’s ornament, “In All Things” to offer hope to everyone puzzled by life about how God’s view is clear even when ours is not.

2008 "In all things..." Ornament

That life is puzzling to us but not to God really bugs me sometimes.  You see, God holds this trump card – He is “sovereign.”  This means that he is able to work things out to advance his own purposes.  Wouldn’t you just love to be sovereign in that way?

Now God’s sovereignty is not only good news for him but also those of us who follow him.  Why?  Because God made everything “good” including humans who were made in his image and charged to rule creation in the same manner as he(Genesis 1:26-31).  Those are his purposes.

But things didn’t work out that way because humans decided they wanted to rule their own way – contrary to how God prescribed.  So humanity and creation is broken and pretty much existing apart from God, in opposition to his purposes.

But God is still sovereign and, because he is so, he WILL achieve his purposes.  He has a plan that he revealed immediately when humans decided to go their own way.  In Genesis 3:15, as he admonishes Eve for her participation in disobeying him, he also includes a promise – that the power of “sin” would one day be crushed by one of her descendents!

Down through the ages that followed, the plan unfolded as God “sovereignly” caused seemingly unconnected plots and subplots to “somehow” bring his plan to fruition.  The promised descendent finally arrived on the scene in the form of Jesus.  And then, through Jesus, God “crushed” the power of sin as 1stCorinthians 15: 21 summarizes: “just as death came into the world through a man (Adam), now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man (Jesus).”

So God getting his way is why we have Christmas but what has this to do with my hope in the midst of unemployment and the challenges that you are facing in your life? Well, look back to Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 

Those who love God also desire what God desires – his purposes.  So as we believers conduct our lives in pursuit of His will, all things that occur, even the most evil and painful ones, will “work” for our good and to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.  That’s the promise.  Now as to HOW God makes that happen, well – only He knows!

Since the passage says that God works in all things, he is surely working in mything as well. My part of the equation is to love him and to align my life with his purposes – even when I don’t fully understand how his purposes will be achieved through me.

To reflect that idea, the ornament is three sections of a puzzle with the “next” piece “missing.”  When life is a puzzle, we don’t know what piece is going to fit in that spot, hence the bulb dangling there with a question mark (?) on one side.  God working out the answer (in the background) is represented by the exclamation point (!) on the other side of the bulb.

All believers may rejoice this Christmas that God has our backs.  At the same time, let us pray for family, friends and colleagues who are not yet believers.  Since unbelievers are on their own, apart from God, pray that they soon begin to follow Jesus along with us so that they too can have the assurance that God has their backs as well!

Now God’s sovereignty is not only good news for him but also those of us who follow him.  Why?  Because God made everything “good” including humans who were made in his image and charged to rule creation in the same manner as he(Genesis 1:26-31).  Those are his purposes.

But things didn’t work out that way because humans decided they wanted to rule their own way – contrary to how God prescribed.  So humanity and creation is broken and pretty much existing apart from God, in opposition to his purposes.

But God is still sovereign and, because he is so, he WILL achieve his purposes.  He has a plan that he revealed immediately when humans decided to go their own way.  In Genesis 3:15, as he admonishes Eve for her participation in disobeying him, he also includes a promise – that the power of “sin” would one day be crushed by one of her descendents!

Down through the ages that followed, the plan unfolded as God “sovereignly” caused seemingly unconnected plots and subplots to “somehow” bring his plan to fruition.  The promised descendent finally arrived on the scene in the form of Jesus.  And then, through Jesus, God “crushed” the power of sin as 1stCorinthians 15: 21 summarizes: “just as death came into the world through a man (Adam), now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man (Jesus).”

So God getting his way is why we have Christmas but what has this to do with my hope in the midst of unemployment and the challenges that you are facing in your life? Well, look back to Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 

Those who love God also desire what God desires – his purposes.  So as we believers conduct our lives in pursuit of His will, all things that occur, even the most evil and painful ones, will “work” for our good and to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.  That’s the promise.  Now as to HOW God makes that happen, well – only He knows!

Since the passage says that God works in all things, he is surely working in mything as well. My part of the equation is to love him and to align my life with his purposes – even when I don’t fully understand how his purposes will be achieved through me.

To reflect that idea, the ornament is three sections of a puzzle with the “next” piece “missing.”  When life is a puzzle, we don’t know what piece is going to fit in that spot, hence the bulb dangling there with a question mark (?) on one side.  God working out the answer (in the background) is represented by the exclamation point (!) on the other side of the bulb.

All believers may rejoice this Christmas that God has our backs.  At the same time, let us pray for family, friends and colleagues who are not yet believers.  Since unbelievers are on their own, apart from God, pray that they soon begin to follow Jesus along with us so that they too can have the assurance that God has their backs as well!