BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER
Matthew 7:24-27; Mark 9:22-24; Jeremiah 31:33
My first grocery shopping trip in the pandemic shutdown was a jarring experience. I walked into the store feeling mostly at peace and confidently trusting in God. I knew that anxiety was on the rise in communities all over the world, but I felt prepped and ready to stand my ground on the new foundation I’ve built on God’s promises over the past 10 years or so.
Moments after stepping into the store, my trust in God was put to the test. I saw empty shelves for aisles, and I immediately started wondering if I wasn’t worried enough. Was my response of patient trust the wrong one? I learned a lesson that day: Even when you build on a foundation of rock, you still have to watch those floodwaters rise. For me, the floodwaters were rushing my foundation in the form of empty grocery shelves. No matter how you experience it, this kind of storm can be a scary and startling experience whether or not you trust in God.
Barry taught us in the first What Now? sermon that trust isn’t the absence of doubt. I think this is a truth that I haven’t heard acknowledged enough in my lifetime, and I think many might agree with me. Many of us have been trained to suppress our doubts all our lives, like having doubt makes us “bad Christians.” But what I’ve discovered is that when you pay attention to the Bible, doubt is actually hard-baked into the Christian experience—almost like a necessity.
Jesus teaches us in Luke 7:47, “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Could a similar relationship apply to doubt and trust? I think it’s possible. The greater our doubts, the greater capacity we have for trust.
If you follow Richard Rohr, you’ve probably heard him refer to the concept of the true self and false self. In processing both the sermons we’ve heard in the current series to this point, I believe the Holy Spirit has led me to make a connection. I believe that doubt belongs to the false self, trust belongs to the true self, and this is how we can hold both at the same time. When you experience trust, your false self, or ego, has yielded to your true self, which is the side of you that mirrors the image of God.
Times of uncertainty, like the present, may cause doubt to grow. It opens a space in us that feels like a void. If our false self takes the lead to fill that void, our response might look like anxiety, panic, hopelessness, or a number of other fretful emotions. But when we willfully yield to our true self that is poised to trust, we are offering that space for God to fill with His truth. But like Amy explained this weekend, we must turn our eyes to God to offer Him that space within ourselves. And I’d also add that we must let go of our expectations or desires for how God fills the void. He may not address the specific doubts you’re currently facing right away, but He will speak to you and He will be with you. He’s written His instructions on your heart, and it’s up to Him the order in which He reveals His truth to you. We have the opportunity to use this time to open ourselves up to hear from God like never before.