Are you ever troubled by doubts? Do you ever puzzle over unanswered prayer, or events that just don’t seem to add up?
I haven’t been a regular doubter in my Christian life, thankfully. I seem to possess an ability to accept things in an almost childlike way, without constantly asking why or needing proof.
Perhaps that is why Jesus allowed the children to come to him and commended childlike faith. A child – if told that the stork brings the baby and hides it under a bush – will simply believe you (which is good reason never to lie to a child!).
[Jesus said] “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
However, despite all I have experienced of God’s goodness, and KNOW of his love and power, there are times when the devil delights to plague me with questions, and reminders of things that puzzle me. He usually chooses late at night to do that!
Last night was such a time.
I suddenly came under a bombardment of questions (very few of which could be answered in a definitive way) and as the road I travelled in my thoughts became darker, I was then encouraged to dwell on the mistakes I’d made in the past, and from there down a narrow lane into the idea that I wasn’t hearing from God at all, but just making things up to suit myself!
Of course the devil is only too happy to provide copious ‘evidence’ for his suggestions. When caught off-guard you are inclined to consider the evidence, even if you KNOW it to be ludicrous and wrong.
Flesh V. Spirit
One part of you (the flesh) is inclined to ponder, while the other part (the inward spirit) is steadfast in faith. These two conditions exist side by side, because we can never totally quench the flesh while we are here on earth.
The flesh is supposed to be kept subdued by a higher authority: the power of trust and faith and belief in God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Most of the time it is.
But as I said, and you may agree, there are times when you come under a barrage of self-doubt, fears, questions, and bad memories and at those times you feel like you are wavering – despite your rock-solid faith.
Lies of the Devil
And so it was with me last night. It didn’t matter that the things I remembered had been thoroughly repented of years ago, and it was all water-under-the-bridge, oh no, that is all grist to the mill for the “accuser of the brethren”.
Somehow, at the time, you’re not thinking straight so you don’t immediately dismiss all these thoughts and worries and regrets.
I started doubting myself. I don’t doubt God – how could I do that, since he is incapable of wrong, completely trustworthy, true to his word, and there is just too much evidence of his goodness and favour and blessing in my life. No, I don’t doubt God, but I do doubt myself.
Who am I, really?
I started to doubt my ability to hear God and to follow what he commands.
What if (that is where the snake began with Adam and Eve… what if?) but what if I’m not hearing from God at all, but from my own thoughts – even worse, from the demonic world?
What if I have been led astray so badly that I don’t even know it, but am just falsely assuming that I’m walking with God?
What if I’m deluding myself and I don’t really know God at ALL?
What if those sins and failings of the past will be held to my account after all?
What if I’m just ASSUMING I’m saved, but if I met God in Heaven he would look sadly at me and show me how I missed the point?
Am I fooling myself, thinking I am living a good Christian life, following the Lord, when in fact it’s nothing of the sort??
And WHY did those longterm prayers of mine – seemingly so godly – never receive the answer I hoped for, and believed for? Did I pray amiss? Or maybe I wasn’t even praying to God at ALL?
It’s useless to compare myself with others. How can I know that MY walk with God, MY experience of God, MY relationship with God is genuine and biblical? Perhaps in my arrogance and blindness it’s actually based on my own preconceptions and feelings, and it’s NOT really the biblical way at all??
In other words, I’m just kidding myself, in fact!!! ARGHHH. Once you start down this path, everything gets called into question!!
It’s not that I doubt God, Jesus, salvation, the bible – but at times like these I do doubt myself.
So much so that last night I was crying in frustration, and holding my head in my hands, not knowing what to believe. Could I be so badly wrong? So mistaken? About everything??
The fabric of my world shook, the foundational truths (about myself) crumbled, and there was nothing I could do about it.
It was late at night, too late to start reading the bible or launching out into a solid prayertime. I was too sleepy, so I fell asleep.
After a night’s sleep where I seemed to be going through the same arguments over and over in my dreams, I woke. And as I did —–
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY LOVING FATHER!!!! Peace had been restored.
It was not of MY doing, but by an act of God. I woke unmoved by the devil’s arguments. But more – so much more – my loving Father and Lord had re-planted the shaken trees of faith overnight, and in my mind and heart I KNEW some things as a certainty… knew them like never before… without ever having to think about it, dwell upon it, or argue it through as a debate. I just KNEW.
I woke up with faith in my heart, my mind and my soul, rock solid. That faith was a GIFT, a precious gift of God, outside of myself and my self-doubt.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Furthermore, certain truths were imparted to me at the same time.
Such as, EVEN IF I had committed gross sins in the past (though actually I had repented) and IF – for the sake of argument – I had those sins on my conscience, no problem, because I could **right now** repent and claim the blood-washing. There is no time limit in the Lord’s Kingdom, and if I needed cleansing, what was to stop me asking for it right that moment?
WHAT indeed [hear this, you devil!] what was the problem?
Secondly, EVEN IF (which isn’t true, but for the sake of argument) I hadn’t been walking on God’s path but my own, and IF I had been listening to my own desires instead of God’s voice, there’s no problem even so because..
TODAY is the Day of Salvation! Today and EVERY day.
There is no limit to the love of God. There’s no bar to repentance and re-commitment. There’s no “statute of limitations” to God’s offer of salvation.
There would be nothing keeping me from praying right this moment and [if need be] starting my genuine Christian life today! As if nothing had ever happened before – making this is the First Day of the Rest of My Life.
If I HAD been (for example) the foulest sinner, the most unspiritual Christian, the worst example of a believer, and a self-deluded and ignorant person, or anything else the devil wanted me to believe in the darkness of a dark night – if in truth I HAD been any of those things, it still would not remove from me the mercy and forgiveness of God!
I am not too far away from readjustment, re-commitment, refreshing! God will never be out of reach; I will never be so far away from Him that I cannot be rescued.
And the truth is this: the Christian life is not down to ME and MY ability, but all the ability is from GOD. I am not able, but HE IS ABLE.
Nothing can rob me of the opportunity and ability to re-commit to God, and begin my life afresh. Right this very hour I could begin – or restart – my Christian life, if need be, and be re-born as a faithful servant of God – so what’s the problem?
God is not weak and feeble, so that he is unable to save! It was HE who initiated salvation in the first place, by himself, unaided by man. Therefore he still reaches out to any who need help:
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. [Is 59:1] Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. [Isaiah 65:24]
I do hope this inspires you to new confidence in God, and helps you. If you want to chat about any problems or worries, feel free to email me [tricia*-at-*birthpangs.org].