My aim was to share, encourage, and entertain. But how could anyone have gotten anything out of a talk that was so personal, passionate, and rambling?
The day after I’d given a talk to the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at church, negative replays of that morning began tumbling through my mind like a windstorm of errant autumn leaves. At one point, those replays were so annoying I stopped everything to pray about the criticism I was giving myself.
Plopping onto a kitchen chair, elbows on my knees, palms pressed hard against my forehead, I poured out a plea. “Please, God, help me let this go.”
Did you feel encouraged to lift Me up as you were speaking?
“Yes, but what about how I talked so much about myself. My childhood. My mother. My writing. And I dragged it out . . . on and on . . . ”
And afterward? How did your question and answer session go?
“It went well, but—”
But—I wasn’t listening and kept right on agonizing and praying for help to let go of the constant “hashing over” of what I’d so passionately shared.
Minutes later, I pulled on a sweater and half-listened to the program in progress on a Christian radio station. The pastor giving the message didn’t waste any time getting right down into my business as he read the first of two Bible versions of Revelation 3:16.
“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Uh oh. But I hadn’t exactly been lukewarm in my talk, had I? Coffee sloshed in the cup as I set it on my nightstand and stared at the radio. The pastor had my attention.
He continued, reading the second version, which put the verse in words a whole lot stronger “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
He paused, thoughtful, and seemed to draw out his words for effect, “So, being lukewarm makes God sick.”
I let out the breath I’d been holding. I’d heard enough. I “got” it.
Doubt had taken my focus from the Lord. I’d focused squarely on myself. I was sinking as fast as Peter had after he left his boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus. Instead of keeping his eyes locked on the eyes of Jesus, Peter looked away to the winds that whipped the wave tops and buffeted him. In sudden fear, he began to slip beneath the waves like chunk of lead and called to Jesus to save him. I had done the same. Jesus reached out to Peter.
“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:31
And in the midst of my doubts and fears, the Lord reached out to me with a reminder. Sweet reassurance that He had been in every detail of my talk to the young women. My passion had come from His heart. My job was to trust and leave the rest to Him.
All those replays, doubts, and worries had been custom designed by Satan to attack my weak spots. I had prayed over what I would say to the gathered moms. I’d trusted the Holy Spirit. I’d been passionate. I’d done my best to lift up the Lord, so why had I doubted?
Satan, the universal doubt-planter, the one who paces the earth like a roaring lion, ready to devour, was overruled as God spoke to my heart through the pastor’s words.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter 5:8).
I’m thankful we serve a gracious God who cares when we lose our way in trusting Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and turns our tribulations into triumphs . . . and into stories to share.
Have you ever doubted and started to sink into a sea of unbelief?
There’s a song for that; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.