vacillate (part II)

verb, alternate or waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive

(Read vacillate part I here.)

As I plunked down on my towel to try and recover from my injuries, I turned this verse over in my mind: “but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:6-8).  How does a wave illustrate this verse? Apparently, James had been to the Panamanian beach because he couldn’t have been more correct in his illustration.

To really understand this verse, let’s do a  quick lesson on wave formation.  According to (which is the key to all knowledge when you wanna know how something works), ocean waves are “traveling fluctuations in water level. Some external force (usually the wind) pushes on the ocean, creating a swell of water, which is passed along the ocean’s surface. The energy of the wave, which may be built up by additional wind pressure, is passed from water molecule to water molecule. The water itself doesn’t actually travel; only the energy keeps going.” 

How does this information apply to James’s word picture? A double-minded woman might love God, but has a faith that rises and falls in secondary causes (emotions, relationships, circumstances, etc.). Her faith does not remain steady in an ever-constant God. For example, one minute in desperation, she believes; then the next breath, she cries, pouts, gets mad, and questions “why me?” When you are double-minded, you will let circumstances determine your faith level, determine your joy, determine your thankfulness. If things are going good and life is smooth sailing, then your faith is high.  However, when all is falling apart, your faith wavers. You are being tossed about by the wind!  

Another interesting point about waves is that “the water itself doesn’t actually travel.” Wow! That means when we are vacillating in our faith, we are getting no where!  It feels like a storm is raging in our minds, but no movement is occurring: a lot of tears, for a whole lot of nothing!

Proverbs 19:23 from The Message version says, “Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene–no nasty surprises.” How does fearing God relate to our faith? Does that mean I’m supposed to be scared of Him? No.  It’s not about terrorizing fear; it’s about liberating fear; a fear that grows from truly understanding who He is. It’s a faith that rests in the idea that I can live securely because I am confident of God’s protection and guidance. He is “always working together for my good” (Romans 8:28). He has “plans to prosper me and not harm me, plans that give me hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He has promised to “complete His work in me until the very end” (Phil. 4:6).

Let’s be honest.  It’s easy to quote those verses, but hard to solidly believe in them when your world is shattered. But that is what it’s all about: learning to believe God and what He says not just believe in Him. I really need that “serene life” that Proverbs speaks of–at least as it relates to my mind and my emotions. I’m tired of being thrashed by the waves of doubt and double-mindedness.  Either God is true to His promises, or He’s not, and by all past experiences in my life, He has always proven Himself true.  

So if you don’t mind, I’m taking my inner tube and floating down the lazy river while I let God handle my life–my faith-filled, serene life. Hope you’ll go tubing with me.

Okay, obviously this isn’t a picture of me…but at least she
illustrates my point well. 

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