To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation. (Yann Martel, Life of Pi.)
The Bible draws a distinction between doubt and indecision, and the quote above from Life of Pi helped me see why: Doubt can be useful as it brings us closer to God, but if instead we use doubt as a means of avoiding movement at all then it’s not really doubt but indecision.
Doubt is the easy one to point to in the Bible, because everyone who writes about doubt and faith relies on Mark 9.
“Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not. … But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-18, 22-24.)
And then, as everyone who writes on doubt and faith points out, Jesus healed the man’s son. Jesus helped the man embrace his doubts and rely on God in spite of those doubts, so that everyone viewing could see that God is bigger than our doubts. Jesus points us to God, taking the focus off our own doubt-filled limitations. God is not bothered by our doubts when they bring us to him, as this man’s doubts brought him face to face with Jesus.
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing. (1 Kings 18:21.)
Reading the entire passage may lead you to conclude that Elijah’s listeners weren’t so much undecided as unwilling to admit they’d already chosen to align themselves with Baal.
Centuries earlier, Joshua called on the nation of Israel to make a choice for God as well.
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15.)
Choosing one way or another is important to God, and lukewarm faith is an abomination.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16.)
Harsh, right? And those words are from Jesus himself. Yet this is the same Jesus who gently led a grief-stricken father from doubt to trust. God doesn’t criticize doubt; he uses it to draw people to him.
So when you are at the intersection of Doubt and Indecision, you know which way to go.
Doubt – who knew it would lead to God?