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Of doubts and dangers. part 1

I am no stranger to doubts.  Somewhere during the formative years between kindergarten and junior high I looked around and concluded the world was quite ill.  Nothing seemed to work.  Two choices fell before me.  Abandon this unpleasant reality and live in a happy but delusional bliss, or carry on with eyes wide open but surrender any hope of peace and joy.  I chose the latter. A third choice, the correct one, would not arrive for another decade.

Approaching life with unrestrained observation naturally lead to doubts.  Of these, two great suspicions followed me throughout the years, equally caustic in their own unique way. The first arose when I realized the world was fallen.  The things I wanted rarely happened.  Those that I feared, often came true.  If God was my father, He wasn’t much of a dad.  Jesus said that a good father would not give us snake when asked for a fish.  Comforting words, but often it appeared more serpent than salmon.

Of course, this was all quite ludicrous.  The fallen and sinful nature of the world I blamed on God.  I wrongly assumed His greatest love for me was expressed by giving me the desires of my heart.  My desires were all wrong, so this was of little help. Nearly every Christian goes through a similar cleansing at some point in their faith.  The danger lies when the process remains incomplete.  Doubts about what He gives us give way to doubts about God Himself.  We begin to doubt the very character of God.  Not only is this simply foolish, it is absolutely destructive.

I can think of few circumstances more miserable than worshiping a God who you believe is not good.  Imagine yourself forced to worship a tyrannical king, storming about, always demanding allegiance and praise from his subjects.  Our world provides us with examples of this every century.  When we doubt God’s goodness we go even farther, heaping on guilt and shame over our skeptical hearts.  The tired slave, toiling in his service to the crown feels no guilt, only anger.  The Christian who doubts God’s goodness stands between two worlds, and in the end, reaps the worst of both.

Our relationship with God can weather doubts about His providence in a given situation, but it withers when we question His goodness. As Christians we’re provided very little instruction on how to process our doubts.  Often, this is because our pastors and teachers never learned the process themselves.  Yet the price is too high, we cannot afford to trample our relationship before such unrestrained skepticism.  Doubts are a normal part of our faith, but they must never control us.

The greatest danger lies not in the simple doubt, but in the continual revisiting of such foundational questions.  If you doubt that God is truly good, seek reconciliation immediately and find your answer.  If you have decided in your heart God is good, remove the question from the table.  Never again let doubts of His ultimate character cast shadows upon your relationship.  You cannot overestimate the freedom and joy awaiting this single decision.

Comments

Comment from nate
Time October 1, 2008 at 11:31 am

Glad to see you are back at it… it has been too long.

Keep em coming!

Comment from jrmallory
Time October 1, 2008 at 8:19 pm

yeah, I had a brief period of writers block… hopefully not again anytime soon.

Comment from Bev Klassen
Time October 1, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Hello Jim – My son is Tim who works with you and he sent me a link to your blog. I have found much food for thought in reading it. Thank you for sharing your heart in this way. I’m not sure if you’ll get this message in time to respond but I hope you’re okay with me sharing your”Quiet Removals” post with my ladies Bible Study (Oct 2) I was struck by the concept of how God sometimes takes things from us and how our reaction to it can be seen as a form of sacrifice. I am planning on reading it to the ladies tomorrow and I will definitely let them know that you are the author.

By the way thanks for being such a great friend to Tim. We are thrilled that he and you share the same goals and priorities and wish you much joy and success as you serve God through your business.

Comment from Kris Mallory
Time October 2, 2008 at 10:16 am

Yes, we are related. I am Jim’s mom. At first my heart broke, reading the words of doubt and pain you experienced during those years. We have always been so close, met I missed this? Typical mom, wondering if I could have saved you from your journey. But reading through to the end, I find that the journey has brought you to a place that it has taken me years to find. True joy and peace in Jesus alone. I am only beginning to truly understand those words at the age of 57! My journey has been a little slower than yours.

I am blessed to have you as a son, more than you can know. One of my greatest joys is sharing our faith and journey together.

Comment from jrmallory
Time October 2, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Bev,

Thank you for reading the post. And yes, please feel free to share it with your group. Let me know what they think, I love hearing feedback. So much of what I learn comes from the fellowship of believers God has surrounded me with.

I am very blessed by my friendship with Tim. And to have someone like Tim as a business partner as well is more than I deserve!

Comment from Elizabeth K
Time October 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm

how precious… the above comment from your mom ^^^

it seems easy to misunderstand God in a fallen world where the best people can only pale in comparison to him… and our understanding of his goodness relies so much on faith too.

but then i guess it is that much more treasured when we do understand that he is good… even when life is extremely difficult… and then we can see his goodness everywhere… in everything… when previously we could only see the evil in the world….

it’s sad that we would ever feel any hopeless doubts when God is so full of goodness… but it really does seem like most people have the wrong impression about God :(

Comment from Colleen
Time October 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Jimmy! This sounds like something I would read in a daily devotional somewhere. I likey a lot.

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