Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Failures of Doubting (Homily 50)

"Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches, [and] walk by the light of your fire and the torches you have kindled! This you shall have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment and sorrow." Is. 50:10-11

Control is the very opposite of trust. Do not misunderstand: it is not bad to make plans. Those who trust make plans and act on them. Faith is more than common sense, but it is not less than it. You are free to make plans and move on them, but you must beware to not trust in the plan. That is the key. It is not about your actions but your reliance. If your reliance is on God, then your action is of faith. If your reliance is on your plans (and your ability to fulfill them), then your action is not of faith, and whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). So make your plans and act on them, doubting nothing except your plans and actions.

Control is all about doubt: doubting God and His presence, providence, promises, and power. To trust in our own strengths and wits above all else is the essence of unbelief, and it creates two kinds of people. The first is gripped by an impenetrable pride. They are unshaken in their self-confidence and never think to question themselves. Their end will be anger: anger at others for doubting them, anger at God for being greater than them, and anger at themselves when their plans fail, as they will always fail. The fire of their torches will burn them up.

The second kind of person is gripped by an impenetrable fear. They are always shaken by the ordeal of decision, because they believe it is all on them, and their loneliness becomes a crushing burden of anxiety. The never think to turn to the One who is greater than them, for they do not think their even is anyone greater than them. Their end will be despair, of both their situation and themselves. They see their torches for what they really are: pathetic, paltry lights revealing nothing but shadows and the enormity of the darkness.

In truth, both the prideful and fearful strains touch us all at different times. They often come packaged together because they spring from the same source. Still, different people will manifest one side more readily than the other as well as fall to its consequences more easily. The point is this: trust is a hard game, but it alone can lead to peace; control is an easy game (it is the most natural thing in the world to trust yourself), but it can only lead to anger and despair. Pride and fear cannot sustain themselves; their fires will be the doom of those who lit them. But he who trusts in the Lord shall never be ashamed, for His fire never fails: its light has pierced the deepest darkness, and that darkness could not, nor ever could, overcome it. Amen.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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