Chapter 13 – Challenging the Delusion
We return now to our original framework for the #2 Pencil Faith. In way of review, the two outer pencils of our metaphor represent the full spectrum of our faith. Within this framework are the certainties we stand on. These involve the things God has told us about Himself through His Word and the validation of that Word through our human experience. Alongside these certainties are our fears and doubts. Though we all have them, and should forever seek a resolution, we choose to tolerate their existence in order to journey forward.
As I have shared, I estimate those things I am certain of at 80% of my faith and my fears and doubts, the remaining 20%. A sliding pencil in the middle of the metaphor marks this dividing line (Figure 3). I should qualify, when I speak of my certainties I do not mean to suggest I know 80% of everything there is to know about God, but rather that this portion of my journey contains the foundational principles of my confidence.
The middle pencil is a fragile reference point that defines my present reality. When I am in the midst of an unfortunate crisis and Satan kindles the fires of fear and doubt, my point of reference shifts, pressing against my certainties. Here I wonder if the things I don’t understand about God are bigger than the things of which I am certain. The prospect of spiritual disaster threatens my peace.
But this is a delusion. In reality I am certain of much more than is evident at the moment, and my fears and doubts are not nearly as imposing as they appear. The basic premises upon which my faith is built have not changed. I am merely challenged to consider the immensity of God’s divine option as I seek to understand how He might be working in a way yet unknown to me. This is how faith grows: by watching God work in new ways as He proves the precept of the angel Gabriel to Mary that with Him, “Nothing is impossible”!
Our struggles are where Satan digs in his heels to perpetuate the delusion. He attacks our confidence with feelings of inequality, and prompts us to cut off communication with God, to move too fast, or to pretend we are someone we are not. If we practice patience and remember God loves us in spite of our momentary confusion, we can withstand the Deceiver’s efforts to undermine our faith. In fact, the very things He uses to destroy us can be turned against him. Fear and doubt only drive us deeper into the mind and heart of God, shoring up our certainties and allowing His glory to be seen in our lives. The Apostle Paul gave witness to this dynamic when he wrote, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
The delusion seeks to define our faith, but God comes to our rescue to confront our blindness. This is how He saved Job through the whirlwind when he proclaimed, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2). God reviewed His creation record to impress upon Job the complexity of His genius. Crushed by these word pictures Job exclaimed, “Well, shut my mouth!” Actually, he said, “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4).
Growing in our faith is the process of learning more about God, His will and His ways. It involves a child-like trust that waits on Him to reveal His glory. This is how Jesus’ disciples matured in their time with Him on earth. It seems they lived in a constant state of fear and doubt, but as they learned the way of the cross their pride was supplanted with humility. Only then were they able to forget their own strength and catch a glimpse of the Father’s incomprehensible power.
On the stormy sea the disciples cried out to their sleeping Savior, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38) Jesus rose and spoke: “Quiet, Be still!” And the storm ceased. Jesus asked the disciples, “Do you still have no faith?” They answered, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him.”
How strange. The disciples trusted Jesus enough to leave their old lives behind and follow Him. Yet, their faith was still shallow. That day on the sea they witnessed God’s infinite, immeasurable power in the person of His Son, and their spiritual eyes were wide with wonder. In the future their certainty would grow, and their faith would no longer be subject to the wind and the waves.
God’s revelation of Himself is our greatest weapon against delusion. Satan wants to keep us in spiritual darkness where He impairs our view of God. He terrorizes us with past failures, and encircles us with lies. If we remain imprisoned by his storyline our doubt becomes our shackle and fear our chains. But when we see God move in new ways, we are reminded we have much to learn. As Jesus reassured the adulterous woman, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Trust deepens and our delusions weaken. We meditate on the tapestry of God’s divine wisdom and chip away at Satan’s destructive logic. The assurance of the Lord’s abiding grace gives us space to contend and adjust, which makes it very difficult for Satan to exploit our anxieties. Evil is outflanked by truth! This doesn’t mean our battle will be easy, or painless. Yet, holy blood has already been shed at Calvary, and the victory won there makes our victory certain here. The delusion has been exposed and no longer has mastery over us.