By Lisa Huddleston
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James 2:22)
“To delay or fail to make decisions may be more sinful than to make wrong decisions out of faith and love … We must shake off our fear of this world….” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a letter to Henry Louis Henriod
Tuesday night I faced one of my greatest fears—speaking in front of a group of people. Thankfully, this was a wonderfully supportive group, and they did their very best to make me comfortable. I appreciated their warm smiles and words of affirmation, yet I still found myself literally shaking and unable to breathe normally. I was frustrated and angry at my inability to overcome my illogical fear. Yet, looking back, I can rejoice that I did it, thanks to God, and that is good. In spite of my fear. In spite of my insecurity. In spite of a lot of things—I did it. And I am glad.
But so many other times in my life, I haven’t done a thing. When facing times of decision, I’ve let many reasons or excuses hold me back. What would happen if I reached out to that homeless person? What would my friend think if I told her the truth? What would my students do if I couldn’t make it all the way through a lesson? And, finally, how can I ever really know if it’s God who wants me to do something rather than just my own ambition and pride? So many unknowns that have held me back and doused the flicker of faith that longs to become a flame.
These questions and doubts are deceptions and snares. Gently camouflaged yet deadly to the hope of living an effective life of faith. As my husband likes to say, “They smell like smoke and come straight from the pit of Hell.” And, don’t tell him I said so, but in this case, I think he is absolutely right!
After all, what better way to stop the progress of the gospel than simply to fill believers’ heads with insecurity and indecision? Doing nothing is the easy thing. It requires nothing, and it leaves us feeling numbly comfortable. It’s not as though we have done a terrible thing. God just didn’t make His will clear enough for us. We prayed and waited and in the meantime the opportunity to impact the world slipped slowly by. At least we didn’t make a mistake.
But a life of faith requires risk. It is clear in the lives of those who have gone before us, those heroes of the faith who all had liberal amounts of mistakes mixed in among the victories in their lives. It is even clear in our greatest example of faith, Jesus Christ. He faced the greatest risks we can imagine—ridicule, scorn, physical and emotional pain, and even rejection from his family and friends. He chose to act in faith and “scorned the cross” (Heb. 12:2). He faced the risk and overcame the fear that could have kept him from acting. Think about it. It wasn’t even his sin that needed to be atoned for. But he knew his Father’s will and he did what it took to obey—even all the way to the cross.
And we can and should do the same. What does the Lord require of us? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8). He wants us to do something! To give a cup of water. To offer the Bread of Life along with a physical meal and company as it’s eaten. To be a fearless word of truth in a time of truthlessness and a sympathetic ear in time of need. Something. Anything may be better than nothing.
Are you praying about something you’ve been asked to do? Are you waiting to receive a sign from Heaven? Is your present filled with indecision and your past with regret? Are you still alive? Then now is the time to act. Today is the day the Lord has made. Let’s do something good in it!