Hope Fights the Doubt

Ever had one of those seasons where doubt gnawed at your soul and kept you from living in abundant joy?doubt-cartoon

Yeah, me, too. In fact…recently.

With a life-changing decision on the line, I followed my usual checklist for making choices:

  • What does God say about this decision – his voice deep in my soul?
  • What does the Bible say about this choice?
  • What do godly friends tell me?
  • What do the circumstances show me?
  • Do I have peace about the decision?

When the majority of those questions agree, then I feel ready to step into the next season of life.

So I spent several days in spiritual contemplation, fasting and prayer then checked my options with my bulleted list. Check. Check. All five checks. With the decision made, I felt such peace – I gulped fresh draughts of air.

Until doubt bombarded my soul with its constant “What if’s?”

What if this is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? What if this really isn’t God’s will for you and you’ve been royally deceived – again? What if this turns into chaos, then what are you going to do, sister?

Some of the old legalism tapes replayed in my psyche – the old stuff that says, “You’d better make the right decision or God will zap you.”

Yes, I know that is a lie, but old tapes rewind, pause and replay no matter how many times we shush them.

And the other legalism tape screams, “Doubt is not faith. Anyone who doubts is not worthy of the kingdom of God.”

I did say legalism is insidious, cruel and based on lies – right?

But doubt is not always a bad thing for it is in seeking the truth that we search for God. Without some form of doubt, we are left to roll around in our self-sufficiency and think we’re always right – no matter what happens.

Doubt rides with us in a roller coaster of belief systems, circumstantial evidence and core values until finally – dizzy from the ups and downs of emotional turmoil, we whisper, “Whatever, Lord. Just make this struggle go away.”

In a recent devotional, Megan Anderson wrote, “Doubt and discontent are natural symptoms of growth; they nudge us away from the pitfalls of apathy and complacency. At the same time, a lack of clear direction can be taxing on our hearts.

Taxing on the heart – yes! That was the feeling I experienced as I replayed my decision and the possible things that might go wrong if I chose unwisely.

Give me a confirmation, God,” I begged. He answered only by reminding me of who he is – my Husband and Maker who takes care of his bride.

Then God reminded me that decisions always have a risk factor. But even if a particular choice isn’t the best path – a mistake is not necessarily a sin.

Take that – you old legalism liar.

A mistake is not necessarily a sin.

So … I’m going forward with the final decision, sometimes feeling joy and sometimes walking through fields of terror – yet determined to trust and see how God will provide.

Ultimately doubt points us to where our faith originates and eventually lands – right smack in the arms of God.

©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of “Sometimes They Forget” and the Reverend G Trilogy 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Journey of a Novel – Step 4

In Christian circles, we talk about the divine coincidence. This is a moment when everything in the universe centers around a particular event, and we find ourselves in the middle of something wonderful. The divine coincidence is birthed in the heart of God. When it happens, we are reminded once again how much God loves us and desires for us a truly abundant life.

A divine coincidence produced Step 4 of my novel’s journey.

As a member of a writers’ group, I attend monthly meetings. During this particular meeting, the focus of the program was a critique group. So each of us were supposed to bring something the other writers might critique.

Although my novel was finished, I had not found a publisher. In fact, I had almost decided that this particular novel was just for practice. Maybe God never intended it for print. That made me sad, but I resigned my heart to the possibility. Still, I wanted to contribute something to the group discussion, so I printed off my one sheet and took it to the meeting.

The one sheet is a tool that writers use to whet the appetites of editors and publishers. It starts with a killer hook, so that the reader wants more. It describes a bit about the book, how many words, how many chapters, what the topic or the story is about. The one sheet also includes a bio about the author and a bit of marketing information – all on one page. The one sheet is the first step toward getting the proverbial foot in the door and moving ahead with a full-fledged proposal.

So I took my one sheet to the meeting, not even sure if I would have the opportunity to share it. But of course, I didn’t know God had planned a divine coincidence. He and my guardian angel probably chuckled in the back of the room, knowing what would happen.

At my table, I sat next to the acquisitions editor for CrossRiver Media. In some pocket of my brain cells, I remembered that this particular person was an acquisitions editor, but I had not put two plus two together to equal four. I’m a writer; not a mathematician.

Other people at the table shared their manuscripts for the critique and finally it was my turn. I passed out copies of my one sheet to the other people, then read it through – hoping that someone might give me a clue for how to make it better.

I had barely finished the last word when the editor said, “I love it. I want it.”

Stunned, I wondered if I had heard right. Maybe it was just my imagination, spurred from the desire of my heart or maybe it was too much Mexican food the night before. Not enough sleep. Too much salsa.

But the editor was serious. She liked my one sheet and wanted to see the entire proposal. I left the meeting trying to decide if I had just dreamed the sequence or if it had really happened. A publishing opportunity for a first-time novelist, for a writer who never thought she would venture into the fiction realm? A confirmation of the journey God designed from Step 1 when he told me to read a book about writing novels? This was one step closer to a contract, to share my words with the world.

Was that a chuckle I heard from the back of the room? Probably, because Step 4 was the divine coincidence that set up the next step in the journey.