Today’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 13–14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3
Earlier this month, B.J. and I spent a week on a boat in the British Virgin Islands with a couple of dear friends. The weather was nice and, as expected, we had a simply marvelous week. This area of the Caribbean Ocean is historically pretty calm, however, we did experience a storm one evening when we were anchored off the coast of Anegada. While we weren’t trying to travel from one place to another, our 43′ boat that once felt big was suddenly really small as it was rocking back and forth. It became quite comical watching us slam into the furniture, and each other, as we tried to move around the cabin that evening.
When I read James 1:5-8 this week, it took me back to the boat. I now have a better appreciation for what it feels like to be “a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” – a totally out of control feeling. The author of Hebrews used this phrase to describe someone who doubts God. Someone whose direction is influenced by a variety of forces, rather than being anchored on the truths of God.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
Like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, double-minded and unstable all mean the same thing in this passage – wavering, undecided, vacillating in thoughts and actions. Verse seven lets us know that God does not bestow blessings on this type of a person. Given these unfavorable consequences, what causes us to often act like this anyway? Selfishness. Double-mindedness is always a result of our unwillingness to completely submit to God’s plan for our lives. His plan is an all or nothing proposition, but we disrupt it when we hold things back for ourselves. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24).
Fortunately, the Bible is also pretty clear about the solution for double-mindedness. Faith and submission to God’s plan. This past Wednesday, Michael wrote about the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. Sixteen different Old Testament people who were sold out to God’s plan, and embodied the truth of Hebrews 11 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1); and without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Throughout the Old Testament, God poured out his blessings on these followers for their faithfulness to his calling for their lives. Do you know anyone what has this kind of focus and unwavering faith today?
Earlier this year, my small group read a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Chapter 8 of this book includes a story about Chan’s grandmother-in-law, a woman who portrayed complete faith in Jesus. He tells about a time when he attended a play with Grandma Clara. At intermission, he asked if she was enjoying the show. To his surprise, she responded that she was not all that excited about being there – “I just don’t know if this is where I want to be when Christ returns. I’d rather be helping someone or on my knees praying. I don’t want him to return and find me sitting in a theater.” Wow. What an astounding example of a person who is single-minded, focused, and sold out to God’s plan for her life.
I am confident God is pouring out blessings on Grandma Clara. In the same way, I pray that each one of us can demonstrate an unwavering desire and courage to submit to God’s plan for our lives. He really knows what is best for us.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine (Isaiah 55:8 – New Living Translation).