"We all struggle with doubt, I suppose. Haven't you?" I was a bit startled at my sister-in-law's question. Have I? She had, and I've known some who just seem to wake up one morning wondering if God is real or if their faith is a sham. I acknowledge that such doubt is a painful reality for some.
I was pondering the issue of doubt during Sunday morning worship time, not because of my sister-in-law's question, but because of some reading I'd been doing, delving into secular philosophy. We are in the world, but not of the world. To me that means we interact with the culture around us, relate to people of various beliefs, read books and selectively watch movies. I believe Christ called us to be the salt of the earth, so we need to be knowledgeable.
Nevertheless, I was feeling a bit smudged by my week's reading and bemused by some of the new ideas I had encountered. Would it be possible for me to be pulled off course, to be drawn into some belief system that ran counter to Christianity? I wondered. Could I be seduced to the dark side?
My kids are very musical, with several worship leaders among them. Over the years of supporting my children in their musical educations, I've watched how careful they are to stay in tune. With so many guitar players in the family, we've had a high budget for strings and picks. However, the most valued item was a battery-operated tuner, the high-tech version of the pitch pipe. Tuning, I've noticed, takes a lot of time. I've seen practices and worship services held up for several minutes while someone tuned something just so. Musicians know the importance of being on pitch, of being in harmony.
Something about the worship service that morning, the simple singing of choruses, pulled me out of the dim, dusty corner the reading had put me in, and pulled me into the bright sunlight of God's presence. It might be appropriate to say I was being "tuned" to God's pitch, that the week's brush with the world had left me spiritually off-key. While that might be true, I sensed something else in the worship that morning. The words of the gospel caused something to resonate within me in a way the intellectually seductive words of the world did not. It was as though I had a tuner inside perfectly set to God's pitch. Sometimes I think we vastly underestimate the enormity of what it means to invite the Lord of the Universe into our lives. He truly does set up residence and abide with us.
"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart" (Proverbs 20:27)."For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11). The Holy Spirit within really does help us discern the things of God. We are "truth tuned."
Is it possible to be shielded from doubt and deception in our lives? Christians can and do get lost from time to time. Mental deceptions or emotional issues have sidelined numerous believers. Our human minds and emotions suffer from a type of tone-deafness and are not to be trusted. "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
My kids, now mature musicians, are quick to tune a guitar. From long years of practice they can quickly discern even a slightly "off" string. While the Holy Spirit is always with us and always on pitch, we, like musicians, need to practice to become mature. Frequently spending time in the Word, prayer and worship seems to be the key to staying spiritually in tune. Practicing the presence of God will give us perfect pitch and protect us against doubt and deception.
Margaret Mills. All Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.