On a more serious note (well, certainly more serious than how to avoid baking disasters - see last post) I never realized how many forms of unbelief were out there. And not just "out there" but in me as well. Seeds of doubt and seeds of faith have been germinating deep inside me and now I'm paying the price for this ruinous combination.
You just can't go forward in life- when you're taking steps backwards at the same time. Without realizing it, I have been participating in a dance where confident belief takes the first step, doubt and hesitation take the next, reproach for my unbelief takes another forward step, and then downright skeptical and harsh unbelief go next. This is an ugly dance. (What can I say? Not since my disco days have I been noted for any grace on the dance floor.But back in the late '70s and early '80's, I was quite the thing, whirling around on the dance floor and feeling alive while I dance to "Staying Alive").
It isn't just making a decision about my daughter's place of schooling that has got me in a tizzy, but add to that employment and financial decisions, not to mention our house on the market and whether we should "push" harder to get it sold, and I've got a number of decisions to make. My husband and I, together, have these joint decisions, and then we each, separately, have our individual career paths to consider.
So I've been praying. Slightly pleading. And proclaiming a lot of God's promises. And then perjuring myself when I doubt and reconsider whether God is really on my side. Oh, I know He loves me and all that, but sometimes there's something in me that suspects God's love is a tortuous type that majors in trials and minors in grace.
I've been studying these words, trying to get to the root of them: Faith, Doubt, Unbelief. I never knew there were so many ways one could disbelieve God- but there are. You can downright refuse to believe, or you can start out believing and then waver in unbelief, or you can believe God and then reconsider whether you were right to believe a certain thing, or you can reconsider and suspect that God is after something else in you.
The more introverted type- such as I am- tend to do a lot of inner thinking that surges and rises and torments, and nobody knows that you are exhausting yourself to death in trying to figure out what to do, what to believe, what decision means you are operating in Faith.
There are at least four words, in the New Testament, that have to do with the word doubt or unbelief- but that have distinct definitions. You can't just tell someone not to doubt without explaining what Doubt looks like, and what Faith would mean in their situation.
There's lack of faith or being uncertain in faith- before you make a decision. Then there's a type of unbelief that has to do with lacking confidence in God's will to help you, or His ability to help you. Then there's skepticism- which causes you to reconsider your faith , your prayers that you sent up with smoke signals and lots of pleading. And then, of course, there's the worst kind of unbelief which is the obstinate refusal to believe God, a superior type of thinking that mocks God's abilities when compared to your own.
I imagine there's countless ways to believe and to disbelieve God. But at the root of our expressed faith or unbelief are the reasons why we will, won't, choose to, can't, wish we could, BELIEVE GOD. Everyone has a unique set of circumstance, personal history, mounting inner conflicts, and reasons why they are where they are- when it comes to walking in faith and moving mountains by faith.
Here's where I encourage myself. It seems God deals more stringently with those who refuse to believe or are skeptical to believe. (Repentance is the prescribed cure for these nasty expressions of arrogance or bitterness). Then there's God's gentle wooing ways with those who are confused (and we do a great job of confusing ourselves), and with those who are vacillating- like Peter who confidently stepped out of the boat, in faith, and began walking on water and THEN realized he wasn't a water-walker by birth. Faith rises up and tells us we can be more than what we were- and Doubt reminds us that what we were was, at least, safe.
So what I am now doing is every time I am battling doubt, fear, unbelief, as I try to make some big decisions, I question what is at the root of it all. Is it an issue of what I can do, or an issue of my estimation of God's ability and His will or intention towards me? Am I dragging my feet when it comes to trusting Him or am I refusing to trust? Cause where I fall and stagger, He is merciful. But where I stand and fold my arms across my chest in stubborn refusal to believe or even try, He is not pleased. He is not running towards me- because I am not running towards Him.
So never mind the actual decisions I need to make. I gotta get down to the nitty gritty root of my decision-making system. It beeps a red alert when Doubt rises and Skepticism grows. And I've got to pay attention to how I decide, not the where and the when. Because the question of Faith (do I operate by it?) is the question that's answered by how we're living right now.