For the last few weeks, I have been haunted by a passage in James. I know it sounds really strange to say that I have been haunted by something in the Bible, but let me explain what I mean. There is a passage in James that talks about asking for wisdom and it says that when we ask, we “must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
As I have been experiencing this new level of clarity from God over the last month, these verses for some unknown reason kept coming to my mind. When they came into my mind, I felt like it was a pattern of mine that I couldn’t escape, like a coat I couldn’t take off. I was reminded of how often I felt like I heard from God, only to start to doubt shortly thereafter and waffle back and forth with indecision. These times flashed before me and I was very concerned and determined not to fall into this pattern anymore.
Weeks passed and these verses continued to plague me, almost like a coming omen. I kept seeing myself as the double-minded man and as soon as I did, I tried to push the thought out of my mind. At the same time, I was having some great conversations with Chris and friends about what God was speaking to me. The interesting thing was that when I really thought about it, I didn’t doubt God’s voice or direction like I had in the past. I actually felt pretty confident – more confident than I have in quite some time. So why were these verses in James making me question God?
As I was thinking about this over the weekend, a light bulb went off. I started thinking about how Jesus was tempted in the desert – the devil used scripture and tried to twist it to make Jesus question God’s words. When I thought all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the first temptation, I instantly remembered the aim of the enemy to make Eve doubt God as he posed the question, “Did God really say…?” I realized that the enemy was trying to get me to doubt God’s voice by reminding me of times I have doubted and faltered in the past – and he was using scripture to do this.
For me, this was a new level of spiritual attack. I realized that these verses were not coming to mind because of conviction but with the purpose of trying to make me doubt my ability to hear from God and walk obediently before Him. In the midst of this revelation, God continued to affirm what He had spoken to me. This really opened my eyes to the reality of the enemy and the importance of guarding and protecting the deposit God’s given me.
In addition, I felt that God was showing me that what I have been experiencing is less doubt about what God asked me to do and more fear of the road ahead. I now see a major difference between these two verbs. First, doubting is a lack of faith, a lack of confidence in my ability to hear from God. It is a lack of trust in His promise to speak and direct me. There are a lot of times when I have doubted and I am sure there will be times in the future, but even when I do, God is gracious enough to meet me where I am – like he did to Gideon and to Thomas.
Fear on the other hand, does not mean I question what God called me to do, but that I see the road ahead and the risks involved and become afraid, apprehensive or sometimes, terrified. The good news is that when God’s people move out in faith and take a risk, fear is a common denominator, so I am not alone. I am not suggesting that I should embrace my fears, but I do think recognizing them for what they are is a first step toward addressing them. Then, I can ask God to help me keep walking forward despite my fears.
So we say with confidence: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.