No Doubt About It!
Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt nor a fear,
Not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Israel camped there in front of the mountain while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him from the mountain, “This is what you should say to Jacob’s household and declare to the Israelites: You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. So now, if you faithfully obey me and stay true to my covenant, you will be my most precious possession out of all the peoples, since the whole earth belongs to me. You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation. These are the words you should say to the Israelites.”
So, Moses came down, called together the people’s elders, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all responded with one voice: “Everything that the Lord has said we will do.” Moses reported to the Lord what the people said.
Exodus 19 2-8 (CEB)
One of the hardest concepts of God for me to really “get” is the trustworthiness of God. But when I look back at my many years of “walking with the Lord”, He’s always been faithful. Not just faithful, but He’s done amazing things for me! And through me! I could add a loooong list here. So why doesn’t it sit right with me? I think it’s because God is the only faithful one. I don’t know anyone else who is 100 percent trustworthy. Only God can be there 100 percent of the time.
All humans, every single one of us, has failed the “trustworthy” test at some point. Even the best of us. Even Rick Astley has let someone down, made someone cry, or told a lie and hurt you. I bet if you asked Neil, or Derek, or even Commissioner Riley, they could tell you times they failed. And that’s okay; we all fail. God has a plan for that. We admit our sin, ask for forgiveness, change our behavior, and we move on.
But that makes it hard for us to even conceive of a God who is completely trustworthy, who is worthy of total obedience. We say “obey your parents” or “obey authorities” but there are always exceptions.
With God, there aren’t exceptions. Trust and obey, and you won’t go wrong. Think your gut knows better? You’re gonna go wrong. Think you need a second opinion from your horoscope? You’re gonna go wrong. Think your friend tells you better than the Spirit tells you? You’re gonna go wrong.
How do we conquer that doubt? Let’s dig into this scripture.
If you remember the story of Moses, it goes: basket in a river, killed a man, burning bush, let my people go, plagues, nope, plagues, nope, plagues, Passover, get out, red sea, wander, manna, wander, ten commandments, list of directions, big golden calf, wander, giants in the land, wander, wander, look at Canaan over there, dead.
The piece of scripture above is right between wandering and the Ten Commandments. Moses goes up to God on the mountain (which I kind of imagine like going into a CEO’s office. Lots of stairs, very quiet, maybe some walnut paneling and fancy carpet.) And God makes a suzerain covenant with Moses. God tells him that the Israelites will be His people. That he’ll protect them and make them a nation of priests.
This seems like a small event from our perspective, but it was huge. Back then (in Canaan), the suzerain covenant was something that a conquering ruler would make with a conquered state. It was a new level for the Israelites. God is basically saying that He’s in charge, and if you keep His commandments, He’ll bless you and set you apart. The Israelites thought this was great, since they’d just seen all the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. God gives them the ten commandments, and a bunch of other rules. Lots of important stuff, but dense.
Then, ironically, these people who never had a reason to doubt God, started doubting him almost immediately. They responded “Great!!! But, just in case the God who did all those miracles last week can’t take care of us, we’re going to make a giant idol out of our earrings and worship that. You know, just on the side.”
Not smart. But that’s exactly what we do! What I do! I know God has taken care of me. I know what he’s done in lives around me. But then I go looking for another back up plan. “Well, if this doesn’t work, I can always rely on my Photoshop skillz…”
So how do we deal with doubt? How do we get rid of the clouds, shadows, sighs, and tears from the song?
Yesterday we talked about walking with the Lord. That is, being always with Him. But, when we doubt, it’s super important and helpful to be with Him in a more focused way. That is, worship Him. Have you ever gone into a Sunday service with a bad attitude? I know I have. The act of choosing to worship, despite our doubts and fears can turn it all around. When we make that choice to sing His praises despite our doubt, He meets us with assurance. When you least think it will help, I suggest a time of Worship. That will mean different things to each of you. It can be alone, during the week: Keep a worship song playlist on your Spotify. Or go to that quiet spot where you know you can listen to God. Or just pull off the freeway and read your Bible in a parking lot. It can also be in a group. A big part of why we meet is that being in a group of people, publicly declaring our faith, and participating in worship makes us more attune to God’s presence. Our doubt melts and we remember that God was there the whole time, we just weren’t paying close enough attention. God lives in the Taco Bell parking lot just as much as He lives in the Corps sanctuary. But it’s much easier to focus on him in the sanctuary.
Another good way to chase away fear and doubt is testimony. Repeating the stories of what God has done in our lives reminds us of what He can do now. It doesn’t have to wait for a designated testimony time at church, or a slide show about your Service Corps trip. It should be you asking the people around you how God has helped them. It can be you telling someone how God has helped you. It can be you making a list of times God has been working in your life. It’s like looking at Pinterest for outfit ideas. Looking at what other people have worn helps you remember how you can put together the stuff in your closet (or on your floor) into new looks. Get inspired by those around you!
(I was just going to use the one word, but I feel like I should write more.) When in doubt, pray! You can say literally anything to God. Yell at Him if you need to. Shake your fist at the heavens. Cry. Sometimes you need to sit there, numb, not knowing what to say. Sometimes it all comes tumbling out in a cascade of babbling. It is all good. The important thing isn’t what we say, but that we are in communication with God. So, pray for yourself. But also, let other people pray for you. Open up about what you are doubting. Be honest about your struggles. Sometimes people react weirdly. That’s okay. Keep asking people for prayer. The more voices going up to God, the better.
No matter how long you Walk with the Lord, doubts will occasionally pop up. Pray now that God will smile on you when that time comes. Remember what to do to stay close to Him!