Have you ever wondered, considered, fretted, worried, and then wondered again about taking some course of action? What should I do? Where should I go? Should I change jobs or retire? What medical procedure would be the best? What should I order in a restaurant that I won’t be wearing around my hips 5 years from now? (Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch, I concede!)
Indecision – this is the breeding ground for inaction and it is breeding ground for doubts about God’s sovereignty, your salvation, and a host of other questions that Satan will interject so that your devotion to your Lord will be diminished, or at least diverted!
Last year, when we were in Nashville, Tennessee, we stopped at the Lane Motor Museum, which has been a subject of a prior post on The Ruminant Scribe. I saved discussion of this specific vehicle because it seemed to me to be a visual representation of indecision!
My first thought when I saw this vehicle at the museum was “This is a pushmi-pullyu!!”
In the The Story of Doctor Dolittle, there was a fictional character called the pushmi-pullyu (pronounced “push-me—pull-you”). It was a “gazelle-unicorn cross” which had a head at each end of its body.
[Image and information about the book was obtained on April 25, 2016, from http://www.bing.com/images and from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Doctor_Dolittle.]
Although the pushmi-pullyu was fictional, the vehicle in front of me at the museum was not — even so, I could not help but think of this humorous character!
It is a vehicle with two front ends. We were told that all the vehicles in the museum were functional and drivable, but I don’t know if both ends of the vehicle drove or if only one side did.
I am told, although I am no French expert to be sure, that “Sapeurs-Pompiers” is French for firemen. Cogolin is a small city in south east France in the French region Provence-Alpes-Cot d’Azur. The town has about 11000 people. So, this vehicle, with its two steering wheels, two front tires, two front windshields … two working front ends was, apparently, at least at one point in time, a fire vehicle for the town of Cogolin, France. How it came to be at the Lane Motor Museum in Tennessee is unknown to me, but I can attest that it was there!
No matter how it got to Nashville, it seems to me to be a classic representation of the “pushmi-pullyu” conflict that is also known as indecision.
James, the brother of Jesus and the author of the book of James in Scripture, speaks of indecision and its difficulties.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
The King James Version of this scripture uses the term “wavereth” rather than the term “doubting” in verse 6. Looking up the meaning of this word in Strong’s Lexicon, you find the following information for G1252, diakrinō, the Greek word translated “doubting” in the ESV and “wavereth” in the KJV:
to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer
to learn by discrimination, to try, decide
- to determine, give judgment, decide a dispute
to withdraw from one, desert
to separate one’s self in a hostile spirit, to oppose, strive with dispute, contend
to be at variance with one’s self, hesitate, doubt
To me, these definitions are more indicative of the struggle going on in the one who is undecided, a struggle that the simple term “doubting” does not seem to connote. The first part of entry number 5 is particularly illustrative for me – “To be at variance with one’s self”. That seems to be the quintessential description of indecision!
The reality of indecision, however, is not the point. All of us are subject to some indecision at one time or another. Rather, James is warning that those who are “at variance with” themselves must not suppose that they “will receive anything from the Lord” in answer to her prayers.
The consequence of indecision is that the Lord will not be responsive to the prayer that is subject of doubt.
Of course, we also must remember that prayers must be made in alignment with God’s will for answers to be received. I am confident that Paul did not doubt when he prayed to be relieved from his physical infirmity. But he did not get the relief that he desired.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
The fact is that fervent, unwavering prayer raised to God’s throne does not equate to the instant resolution that we may envision. Rather, as Paul points out, he asked the Lord to take this “thorn” from him but instead of removal the Lord gave him grace, an even greater relief. Pain is real, but grace is overwhelming and eternal. I have learned that when I am weak, then I am strong because it is God working through me, and that makes all the difference!
Don’t be a pushmi-pullyu! Don’t be double minded – be single minded. Have your mind focused on the Trinity: on God, on Jesus Christ, and on His Holy Spirit. Look to the Lord’s way for your life and you will be blessed, even through unexpected answers to your prayers.
Father, forgive me, I pray, when I have prayed while doubting that an answer would come. Forgive me when I have doubted that Your plan for my life was the best or that You had my eternal best interest in mind. Forgive me when I have simply failed to yield control of my life to You, in all things, for You are sovereign and I desire to yield to Your guidance and authority in all things. Strengthen me in this, I pray.