It’s part of my personality to doubt or second guess myself. I had a rough start in life but in the long haul I think I’ve been pretty successful. Recognizing that, for some reason I still don’t trust myself to make solid decisions. I’ve met fellow believers that have the same struggle. The most intense doubt arises when I feel like I’m being prompted by the Holy Spirit to act. Sometimes I can’t decide if I should give the homeless guy at the traffic light some spare change, or whether or not I should talk to the lady at Lowe’s about the Lord. My inability to decide results from an internal discussion that causes much distress and confusion.
As I discussed this with a fellow doubter, she said, “What if we didn’t think about it and just did it?” What an awesome idea! Instead of questioning, and second guessing myself and possibly missing out on God’s will 99% of the time, what if I just acted immediately and was on the mark 99% of the time?
The lady who poured oil on Jesus’ head in Matthew 26:6 may have had similar struggles. Of course we’ll never know because passages like these don’t offer any insight into the thoughts or actions leading up to the event. How did she decide that pouring oil on Jesus would be a good idea instead of selling it? What was going through her mind as she walked through the guests at the house to anoint Jesus? Was she beaming with confidence and conviction or was she timid and humble yet obedient?
We’ll never know what led her to act. Even though Jesus said the ointment was to prepare him for burial, I don’t think this woman knew this was the reason she anointed Jesus. What made her feel so strongly about him that she was moved to anoint him? Was she even invited? Were they strangers or did they know her?
All we know is what the Bible says: she anointed Jesus. And, the disciples and others were indignant toward this lady for wasting expensive ointment. “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” For whatever the reason, she acted, and Jesus proclaimed that her story would be told along with the gospel through the whole world.
Sitting here typing this post I acknowledge that I should act immediately in faith and I want to obey, but I repeatedly second guess and overthink. As a matter of fact, my thinking sometimes sounds like the disciples, “You are working; you don’t have time. Remember, you’re supposed to be a good steward of your time.”
One time I was working on a computer at a company surrounded by a few of the users at the firm. A loud yell came from the reception area which startled me. The users assured me nothing was wrong; it was just their “crazy drama-ridden receptionist”. I finished my work and walked out past the receptionist to see this woman crying and apparently distraught. I felt so sorry for her as I walked past(a substitute for action, but that’s a whole separate post). I wanted to say something but I had to get to another appointment. I got on the elevator but felt led to go back and talk to her. I stood there holding the elevator door open while I argued with myself about my next appointment. Suddenly, the elevator buzzer went off letting everyone know I was holding up the elevator. That was about as close as I’ve come to hearing God’s voice. In shock, I shot out of the elevator and went to check on the woman. She told me a heartbreaking tale about her ex-husband and his ill treatment of their children. I felt totally unequipped to respond to her situation. But with a deep conviction and compassion, I was able to tell her that God was aware of all that was going on and loves her and her children regardless of her circumstances -not sure why I left out the ex. But there was no Romans Road or Four Spiritual Laws, just a fresh, real conversation. I don’t know if it helped but I felt like I did what I was supposed to do.
So what’s the bottom line? Thinking removes faith. We must act while it’s still NOW. Jesus used an elevator buzzer to make me act NOW because Jesus loved that lady too much to not show her compassion at a moment when no one else would. Acting in faith means not knowing the results or the implications to other areas of our lives. The God that will call me to talk to a lady will handle any repercussions for being late or missing my next appointment(which worked out fine in this case). “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”
When I’m called to act, but instead analyze and think it through, things get complicated. My plan would involve spending an hour with her going over Bible verses, sharing the gospel and leading her to Christ. This would take WAY too long for a working guy with a busy day ahead so it’s impossible! The reality is that acting in faith means a simple step into the unknown. But being called to “wing it” reveals my weak faith and lack of trust. “Without faith it’s impossible to please God”(Hebrews 11:6). I pray that God will help me in my unbelief(Mark 9:24).
On the other hand, if my reasoning wins out, I follow my own plan. That may make me feel like I’ve done something for God but it might not have been an act of faith. “…everything that does not come from faith is sin”(Romans 14:23).
Maybe Paul had similar confusion, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing”(Romans 7:19).
I’m hoping that in the following days, while this is still fresh, I will have an opportunity to act immediately. I’m prepared and waiting and am anxious to see what God will do.