Doubts are like clouds…
It can be wise to consider what they might indicate.
I said it before and I’ll say it again, doubts can be good. Especially doubts about human wisdom, impulses, big ideas—my own or somebody else’s.
Wise counsel from scripture tells me to “trust in the LORD with all [my] heart, and “lean not on [my] own understanding… Be not wise in your own eyes,” (Prov 3:5-7) (for) “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). Yike! Not a very reliable counselor, huh?
But doubts can be bad. Some debilitate good, earnest people, and stymie valuable actions God desires. Bullies use doubt to oppress the conscientious and shove them out of the way of their own selfish schemes. And of course doubt of our truest Friend is most regretful. We know what bully first stirred up that doubt and brought humanity all our present troubles (Gen 3:1).
But back to good doubts. Doubt can check presumption—which seeks, even if unconsciously, to use God’s grace and gifts selfishly.
It can also put the brakes on well-meaning but precipitate action, where “fools rush in” and make bigger fools of themselves and simultaneously discredit God.
Scripture commends not impulsiveness, but discretion, and discretion requires thoughtful consideration of doubts.
I have regrets. I’ve made errors in judgment and poor decisions that left a legacy I’d rather not have. Though I considered myself a circumspect person who treaded carefully, 20-20 hindsight revealed how often I jumped when I should have waited. Other times when I paid attention to doubts (aka red flags) I afterward rejoiced that I had.
George Muller became a model for me in whether to proceed in any venture. This man through whom God accomplished astonishing things and who saw manifold answered prayers most believers wouldn’t have the courage to pray, never followed any new track until certain it was God’s track.
This gave him—and can give anyone—bold confidence, in both prayer and action. If you know for sure it’s God’s desire, you can pour yourself into the effort, and watch the most startling prayers get answered.
One area where I’ve wrestled doubts is this whole blog thing. That’s why you haven’t seen much of me here.
I know why I started blogging. I didn’t do the Muller thing at all. I went to a writers’ conference and heard, “Every writer should have a blog.” So I (blindly) went home and got a blog.
Then I had to figure out what to do with it!
And sometimes, when I poured heart, soul, mind and body into it and didn’t know if anyone was even reading it, l naturally began to wonder if all that time and energy made sense. When hindrances came along, it was easy for them to discourage me. If I’d only made sure it was God’s direction, they couldn’t have so easily daunted.
So how do you sort out the doubts and discern God’s direction?
So far, I know this much:
First, don’t completely deny a doubt’s validity without investigation, nor let doubt alone stop you.
Take it to God in prayer.
Consider the source of both it and your original motivation. Ask if it’s God calling or people manipulating, or lies from the past haunting and pushing you.
See what God’s general will is in the area of your undertaking, particularly for someone with your present responsibilities.
Then somehow record what insights God’s word and Spirit give you, some place where you can readily see them again to remind you when new false doubts (or big ideas) arise.
Happy doubt sorting!