Clouds of Doubt

Where there's smoke, there's fire. It's often the first sign that something is ablaze. It's the signal that causes us to look deeper. Doubt acts in much the same way. It creeps in when we least expect it, when we least want it to. But it's also a marker that things are changing, within us and around us. It's an indication we are changing and heading towards new opportunities. We just have to search for the source.

For some time, I've been feeling this spark igniting within me. I've been aware of the flame growing, gaining energy, illuminating areas of my soul that aren't in line with God's character. It's an exhilarating and sometimes frightening feeling. I want every fiber of my being to be willing to follow where this goes. But that means working through the doubts that creep in. The questions that come with the inspiration... Is this really God's idea or mine? Is it worth it? Is it true?

If God is stretching us in our faith, then we have to work through the doubts too. We have to remind ourselves to trust in His promises and His direction, and then surrender more of ourselves to Him. Only then will our faith grow. Once we break through the clouds of doubt will we see, with faith, what wonderful plans God has in store. We will see how He preparing us for them.

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.
— James 1:6
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
— 2 Corinthians 5:17

Fire leads to rebirth, while the old and no longer useful is disintegrated into a cloud of smoke. I have to wonder if that's not what doubt looks like in our souls. Is it the remnants of our old self dying? Is it the character flaws that we are trying to surrender to God being swept up in a cloud of smoke? Is it the recognition of the ways that we fall short of God's glory? Sometimes it's hard to even see the fire through all the smoke. Sometimes we can focus so much on all that we lack, all our anxiety about the coming changes, all our doubt. When we target the doubts so much, we lose sight of what the fire of the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives. We lose sight of what we will look like and be capable of when God has done His work in us. Doubt, like smoke, if we stand still in it, can be disorienting, debilitating, suffocating. We have to push through to find what God is doing in us.

Keep your eyes on the flames. Stay in God's word and believing His promises. The smoke will be present as we work things out with God. The old has to be done away with to make room for the new. It can be a painful process, but we have to remember it will be worth it. We have to trust that if God has begun this process in us, then we will be transformed if we give Him our all. We have to put aside the doubt and know that it is worth it. He is worth it. We are worth it. His promises are true.

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
There we learn that we can’t use Jesus to defend and maintain our position of power and wealth or to keep up for our own sake a positive self-image as polite and decent people. It could be that Jesus will lead us to a place where we ourselves don’t even know whether we’re holy, where all we know is that we have work to do, where we have to obey the word that we’ve heard in our hearts.
— Richard Rohr (From Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted)

Where is He leading you? Where is He asking you to give up being comfortable for His sake? Are you willing to work through the doubts to find His glory? I know what I'm hearing in my heart. Now it's time to look beyond the doubting and dive in to faith. Once we have allowed His flames to burn away all the old self, there will be new, fertile ground ready and waiting.