Second Guessing

“Late Afternoon in Positano,” © 2017 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

To this day, I can still remember that emotionally traumatic walk home from Oak Elementary School.  My neighborhood BFF and I had turned onto the sidewalk that paralleled Bryant Road when she issued that warning so infamous in the annuls of kid wisdom…

“Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back…” she chanted.

I immediately felt  the icy fingers of indecision grip my heart.

You see, cracks covered that older stretch of sidewalk.  In no way could I avoid every crack.  Which crack would prove the back-breaker?

I stopped in my tracks to carefully consider my next step.  Apparently, my decision would potentially result in life or death consequences.  The stakes were high.

I wondered what terrible things might befall my beloved mother if I accidentally stepped on more than one crack. Would the second crack break her arm?  Or would it simply break her back a second time?

Or maybe, I hypothesized, the second crack might heal my mother’s broken back.  And just when I thought I’d figured out how to proceed, doubt settled.

My friend grew impatient and left me standing there, considering all my options.  Quite frankly, I don’t know how I got home that day.

I suspect, however, that I second-guessed that day’s decisions for many weeks following that crisis of conscience. Undoubtedly, my mother puzzled over my newly acquired concern for her health.

Yes, you can call me the queen of second guessing, the master of indecision.  Uh, huh.  I’ll admit that I sometimes over think things.  It’s an Achilles’ heel of sorts.

I guess that’s why I’ve never railed against Eve for her disobedience in the garden.  Given my history with second-guessing, it’s clear that I would have crumbled as well.

Just when I think I’ve figured out how to proceed, doubt settles.

Adam and Even had received a warning, one of a serious and reasonable nature.  At first, following God’s directive didn’t appear a problem.

But then, the serpent struck Eve’s Achilles’ heel.

Quite simply, the serpent raised doubt.  “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'”

First off, the question began with misinformation.  In fact, Eve found herself trying to recall God’s exact words.  Scripture doesn’t tell us whether she had heard God’s warning firsthand or through Adam.

Whatever the case, the serpent asked Eve to rethink what she knew.  And unfortunately for all of us, she took the bait.

She engaged in debate with an opponent who had no interest in truth; he simply wished to destroy her.

As she began to doubt and second guess her decision to follow God’s one law, the serpent moved in for the kill.  He boldly proposed a bald-faced lie: “You will not surely die…For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” (Genesis 3:1-3).

Fiery darts and wily schemes, indeed.

And waves of doubt erode castles built on sand.

Perhaps, like me, you find yourself second-guessing God’s direction or even His love and grace when you encounter the large–or even the insidious small–cracks on life’s path.

Faith sometimes falters when…

your work goes unnoticed,

your dreams remain unfulfilled,

you face extraordinary grief,

your illness isn’t healed,

financial or physical disaster threatens you or those you love,

or death shadows you…

The serpent asked Eve to rethink what she knew.

The serpent knows our vulnerabilities.  He cuts us no slack.  He arrives “Johnny-on-the-spot” to administer his lethal dose of doubt.

Of course, in Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul addresses the spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of God’s children.  Paul devotes nine verses to his detailed description of  the armor of God, our protection when the serpent calls.

Thing is, although I frequently read Ephesians 6, I wasn’t sure how to apply or use the armor.  The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God… Well, that seemed straightforward.

But the shield of faith? I initially missed the user instructions.

Yet, it was crucial that I learn to effectively wield that shield of faith.  That shield was evidently the key to defeating doubt.

I’m grateful that God–through the Holy Spirit and the entirety of Biblical revelation– teaches me how to practically apply His Word.

As I studied, I read Peter’s warning: “Be self-controlled and alert. You enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8).

But Peter doesn’t stop there.  He also tells us to resist the enemy by standing firm in the faith.

Again, that shield.  “But what exactly does raising the shield look like?” I wondered.

I needed to know.  After all, I completely relate to Eve.  When doubt takes root, it’s easy to take my eyes off God and to begin second guessing.

I found the practical answer to my question as I studied David’s life.    As I studied David’s songs, I began to see a pattern in David’s prayer life.

Many of the Psalms begin with David’s honest admission of fear and doubt.  Obviously, he wasn’t immune to the schemes of the evil one.  Yet, David knew the battle plan.

When those fiery darts threatened to burn down his house of faith, David practiced praise.  No, I don’t necessary think that he organized a national worship service or concert when doubts assailed him.

That certainly would not be a feasible or practical action plan for me.

When  fiery darts threatened to burn down his house of faith, David practiced praise.

However, when fear and doubt filled his mind, David models the essence of praise:  to recall God’s character and review God’s past faithfulness.

For example, in Psalm 25, David begins, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.”

We know from the historical books that David definitely faced some pretty powerful enemies; Psalm 25 honestly expresses David’s emotional response.

Those fiery darts of doubt clearly found their way into his camp at times.  Yet, as I read further, I discover that David answered doubts with praise.

He reviews the character of God: “Remember, O LORD,your great mercy and love, for they are from of old…He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way,” (Psalm 25:8-10).

Through his praise, David returns to what He knows about God.  He raises that shield of faith. And as he concludes many of his songs, he reaffirms his trust in Yahweh.

Yeah, sometimes, those fiery darts make it over the fortress walls.  Doubts rain down.

And “Did God really say?” burns. It catches my Achilles’ heel.

Yet,  I now realize that in moments like these, I can lift my praise like an umbrella.

As I recall all that God is and all that He has already done on my behalf,  my confidence returns.

And my fear and doubt suddenly seem insignificant.

You betcha. That shield of faith extinguishes the enemy’s fire.

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you,” ~Psalm 9:9-10

51 thoughts on “Second Guessing

  1. Beautiful. I’m glad His faith overrides my doubt. We have a friend from church who has cerebral palsy. He said that he hates Adam and Eve because last week someone said bad things happen because of sin. I like what you said about Eve that you’d do the same thing. Me too. And I hope that they also repented because I’d love to meet the second people created perfectly without sin after Jesus of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Scott… I’m grateful right along with you! And I truly believe that the first couple repented because it seems that they may have believed that the Messiah would be one of their children. They clung to God’s promise in Genesis 3:15. I so appreciate your honesty and love for God. Your faith encourages me all the time. God bless you, Scott!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A great post Lynn. I find myself second guessing less and less the more I learn about my identity in Christ and trust in Gods faithfulness. ( It feels like I am learning about this stuff for the first time all over again even though I was born again 18 years ago) I love the picture of the umbrella that you give towards the end as well. Here’s to putting on the armour and trusting in the one who has given it to us!

    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Which part of the armor of God is the most important? I don’t know, but I tend to think the Belt of Truth is most important. Yet only when Ephesians 6:10-20 speaks of the Shield of Faith does it describe the armor serving its purpose.Without faith, we would not accept the truth, and we would not put on the armor.

    I suppose which part is most important does not matter. It like saying a hand is more important than an eye. We need both. We also need the armor of God, each and every part.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I use to fret over the same childhood rhyme—I’d break mother’s back if I weren’t careful…sigh…
    and I identify a great deal with Peter–I can be full of bravado but when push comes to shove, I can waffle and turn tail with the best of them….
    so yep, I’m still learning and being reminded all the time—-‘pick up that sword, pick up that shield…and stand firm!!!!”
    Thanks Lynn—-

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ya know, I’ve often wondered if there have ever been any two people that He might have put in the garden that would have obeyed His command not to eat from that tree. But I think not for I’ve never found any evidence that anyone would have been any more willing to obey His command. Great post. 🙂 ❤

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  6. You continue to amaze with your strong faith and beautiful expression of it through your work. You are such a blessing to all of us you share it with, may God continue to fill your heart with his spirit. I’m proud to be your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You know, I never thought about that saying about stepping on a crack. I said it, because that is what kids did, but i don’t think I gave it any thought beyond that. However, I have a daughter who would analyze that, and what you wrote reminded me so much of her. 🙂

    Oh, but I did give a lot of thought to the armor of God. When I was younger that troubled me. I could not figure out how to put this armor on, so I would pray it on myself, I think, but I didn’t feel that it made any difference. I think I was much older before I really understood how to put it on. I think you captured that very well!

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  8. Yes Lynn as we see confirmed in the Scriptures below Jesus is our only Spiritual Teacher as is our Abba Father our only Spiritual Father ….

    Matthew 23:8-10 But you do not be called ‘Rabbi’ for One is your Teacher The Christ and you are all Brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your Father for One is your Father, He who is in Heaven. And do not be called Teachers for One is your Teacher The Christ. NKJV

    So True, we do not Trust in Man for Understanding or we will become confused as I did, see link below, we Trust in Jesus as you shared Lynn and by the Empowering of The Holy Spirit, He leads us into all Truth as confirmed in the Scriptures below.

    Confusion- https://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-battle-with-confusion/

    1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written; Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the Heart of Man, the things which God hath prepared for them that Love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit for the Spirit searcheth all things yea the deep things of God. For what Man knoweth the things of a Man save the spirit of Man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak not in the words which Man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Ghost Teacheth; comparing spiritual things with Spiritual. But the natural Man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them because they are Spiritually discerned. But he that is Spiritual judgeth all things yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the Mind of The Lord that he may instruct Him? but we have the Mind of Christ.

    John 16:13 -15. Howbeit when He The Spirit of Truth is come He will guide you into all Truth for He shall not speak of Himself but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me for He shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine therefore said I that He shall take of mine and shall shew it unto you.

    1 John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you but as the same anointing Teacheth you of all things and is Truth and is no lie and even as hath ye have been Taught ye shall abide in Him.

    Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed and hid that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness that speak ye in Light and what ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops (KJV)

    Colossians 2 :2 -3 That their Hearts might be comforted being knit together in Love and unto all riches of the full assurance of Understanding, to the acknowledgement of the Mystery of God and of The Father and of Christ in whom are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge.

    1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come and hath given us an Understanding that we may know Him that is True and we are in Him that is True even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is The True God and Eternal life.

    Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and Teach you in the way you shall go I will guide you with Mine eye.

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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  9. Good solid devotion, as usual, Lynn. I enjoyed your reference to Psalm 25. Way back in 1987, when my son was three years old and in the midst of a three-hour nap, I memorized all of Psalm 25. Still remember it. Have a great Thanksgiving!

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  10. Lynn, I can be such a second guesser. Thanks for these wise words on the Shield, and on God’s love and protection in the midst of our doubts. (I sit here doubting some things this very moment. :/ I’ll go back to your words and God’s Word.) He’s always there ready to offer us a second chance. Love you! Deb

    Liked by 2 people

    • We are so alike, dear Deb! Yes, I’m a lot like Abraham. If God has given me a promise and I don’t hear from Him regarding His plan/promise for a while, I start second guessing… And I ask, “Did I really understand God’s leading correctly?” etc. I have to review His Word and His character especially during times like these. This post was another “preaching to myself” moment. But I love that God provides us company through the body of Christ as we walk with Him. You are a special gift! Love you, too! ❤ ❤

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  11. Oh Lynn, I am such an over-thinker and second-guesser, too. Even second-guessing God or what He has taught me. So I identify with Eve, too. Thank you for this encouragement “to recall God’s character and review God’s past faithfulness.” I need that reminder daily. I love your style of writing and it so often resonates in my heart. Thanksgiving blessings and hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I was discussing with my sister today and i was telling her how we sometimes underestimate the wisdom of the devil. He is very sneaky. He knows he won’t do really well by making us operate in unbelief. So he comes in through doubt just like he did to Eve and everyone of us today. I love the idea of using praise. I also practice rehearsing past victories and testimonies.
    The devil is after our faith and nothing else. He knows he is able to strike once we give up on faith. God has given us an edge over the devil. Praying we never give up and we are able to fight well.
    Beautifully written as always my friend. God bless you!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love the reminder that to stand firm in faith, we must review God’s faithfulness, and the analogy of the umbrella… shielding us from the darts that are meant to make us wander. Thank you for your encouraging posts!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a thought provoking post!

    Being aware the enemy will use our weakness against us and question us is powerful. Knowing is part of the battle. What will be turned against us. Trusting God and Christ, and then applying His armor to us is so crucial and needed.

    We need to turn to Him in moments of confusion. We need to be willing to admit to Him, “God, I’m not entirely sure what I am to do in this moment. Help me.” Instead of trying to decide for ourselves.

    Loved this Lynn! Thanks for sharing!

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    • Amen, dear T.R.! Thank you for your always thoughtful comments. It truly means the world to me that you take time to engage with your readers and to read here. I am so honored. And yes, dependence on God is absolutely necessary… dunno where I’d be without Him! ❤ and hugs!

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  15. “As I recall all that God is and all that He has already done on my behalf, my confidence returns.” Yes! There have been many times, and probably will be many more, when I recall all that God has already done to get me through moments of hurt, confusion, fear…Remembering that He has never forsaken me, has always been the One I run to for help, and He has never once failed me in my times of need. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Beautiful post, Lynn! ❤ I am the exact same way; uncertainty affects many areas of my life. Decision-making is very difficult for me most of the time, but I'm slowly getting better. This was very inspiring to read!

    Like

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