It's often there, lurking in the back of my mind. Stalking me at 3.00 am. Catching me out of the corner of my eye.
The insidious whisper of Doubt.
"What if you're wrong?" "What if you've made the most awful mistake?" "What if you read all the signs wrong and ended up here?" "What if this isn't God's best for you but in fact - because of you - so very much less than His best?" "What if this place where you are is self-imposed exile?"
Doubt is the cold whisper at the back of my neck on the sometimes tortuous climb of faith. "Look at the drop, Josie! My God! You're going to die!! You're crazy, there is no purpose to this! STOPP!!"
Stopping won't help, I'll just be stuck where I am.
Closing my eyes won't help. It makes it worse when I'm left to my worst imaginings.
I have to look at what's in front of me, what's around me. It doesn't help to look behind me. And if I refuse to look now - really look - at where I am, how can I possibly glimpse the divine help I'm being given in the moment?
Doubt is wrongly described as the opposite of faith. I disagree. I think Doubt is Faith's springboard. Doubt says, "Look where you are! Look where you are! How can this possibly be right?" Doubt forces me to look, to assess. Doubt is what gives my faith dimension and reminds me that it is faith.
Doubt strikes me into the crystal clear awareness of my situation with a freezing bucket of water. Shows me how "bad" and how "awful" things actually are (or at least seem to be). Doubt clings onto me on the minute glacial step I've rested on for a minute and screams, "This is an impenetrable wall of ice! You'll die if you fall! And you've still got a million miles to go up! You're all alone! You shouldn't be here! GIVE UP!!"
I have two choices. I can quail, or I can look again at the only equipment I have: the ice pick of faith in my hands, the rope of hope harnessed to truth around my waist, and the boots on my feet.
Without turning to address Doubt lest I lose my balance, I say out loud, "OK! Let's see how far these babies can take me! Just for today."
I swing my ice pick with any strength available at that moment, and it digs into ice and finds purchase. Now I've got somewhere to go. Next, I look around for the next foothold of faith my boots can sink into. Their crampons are God's character, His faithfulness, His purposes, His forgiveness, and His unconditional love.
My other piece of equipment, the rope, was securely attached to the top of this mountain before I began my climb. I know this. So I hold it to steady me and pull me up. Sometimes it's what I use to rest. And at others, when I flail or lose my grip or my footing and swing out over the abyss, Hope brings me crashing back to where I was already. Bruised but safe.
This kind of progress can be painstakingly slow. But I'm still moving.
Because here's the thing, Doubt, as you throw your daggers at me. What would it even mean to be "wrong"? How could I know? Would that make God "untrue"? I can't evaluate based on whether things are difficult or not. Sometimes the hardest path in life is exactly where God means us to be. Look at the Bible, for Heaven's sake! He's on it, He knows what He's doing, He's not cruel. This climb is just HARD.
However I got to where I am, the point is I'm here now.
And I'm not on my own. I've been given what it takes to climb up.