OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #266 Sway Bars for Christians
An important part of a car’s suspension system is the sway bar. This device is designed to limit the amount of side to side roll - called sway - during turns. It doesn’t look like much, usually a long piece of round steel formed into a kind of U shape, but its job is important because it improves handling and comfort. Those of us who live in New Brunswick can be proud. Wikipedia tells us that a man from Fredericton was the first to patent the bar in 1919.
We humans could use an anti-sway device. When things are smooth and straight the decisions of life are easy, but when we experience twists and turns we begin to sway. We know what we ought to do, but the complications of life make it hard to believe that we can do it.
This is the nature of doubt. We go back and forth in our minds. We get caught between two opposing ideas and don’t know which one we can trust. Often, we know what is true, but we can’t make up our minds what to do about it.
“I know, but...” is the mantra of doubt. We could fill in the blanks for lots of things. I know yoghurt has less calories and saturated fat, but ice cream is what I really want. I know I should read more, but.... I know I need to lose weight, but....
Let’s bring this around to the topic of faith. “I know I should trust God more, but...”
The books of Matthew, Mark, and John include the account of Jesus walking on the water, but only Matthew tells us that Peter also walked on water that night. In Matthew 14:22-32 we learn that the disciples were rowing across the lake on a windy night when Jesus walked on the water to meet them. The disciples thought he was a ghost and were afraid, but Peter suggested a test. If it was Jesus, he should command Peter to walk across the water also.
Peter did walk on the water, but v.30 says he began to sink when he became afraid of the wind. Jesus saved him from drowning, and then asked him, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?”
It wasn’t that Peter had no faith. As crazy as it seems, he climbed down out of the boat onto the water and started walking. He had enough faith to start, but then the wind and waves scared him. The problem was that he began to sway, to waiver in his conviction and commitment even though he was doing it.
Sometimes we set out in a direction for the Lord, and we’re doing it, perhaps even experiencing some success. But then we become afraid, and we second guess whether it’s the right thing to do. I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Galatians 5:7 “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” It is natural to experience doubt, but we do not have to give in. Rather, faith and faithfulness (the two cannot be separated) mean that we will trust God to continue despite our doubts.
We don’t talk much about doubt. Maybe we hope it will just go away. Maybe it’s our way to avoid those whom we fear will rebuke and shame us for such thoughts. I love the words, however, of Jude 1:22 “Be merciful to those who doubt.” Sometimes we need the comfort of someone who comes alongside to say, “You can do this. In fact, you ARE doing this, just keep going.” And sometimes we need to say the words to someone else. In this way little faith becomes bigger faith.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a bi-weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Oct 13, 2011. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at http://www.onfireletter.com/ . Blog located at http://www.onfireletter.blogspot.com/.