When I think of our troubles today, it is easy to reconcile why we (you and me) are sometimes double-minded. Does anyone believe anymore what they hear on TV or the radio or read in newspapers? Probably half of you will say yes and the other half no. So, there you have it. I don’t think we intend to be double-minded, but it creeps up on us like belly fat during the COVID pandemic. There, I hope I lightened the topic a bit. And don’t be offended. I am dealing with COVID pounds and so are most of the people I know. The point is – receiving conflicting information may cause indecisive, half-convicted thoughts and therefore double-minded behavior.
Let me give you an analogy that I learned the hard way growing up on the dairy farm in Vermont. I remember distinctly an incident where I was exiting a pasture with an ornery bull resident to get out of the way of the harm he could inflict. If you are familiar with barbed wire, you will begin to get a picture of my upcoming dilemma. To be blunt, the crotch of my jeans got stuck on the wire as I straddled it on my way to the other side. I was stuck (at least for the moment) and caught between 2 worlds. On my right side, my leg was in the pasture with the bull and his horns coming toward me with snorts coming from his nostrils. I think he may have been angry at me. I am not certain why he disliked me, but it appeared he did. My left leg was secure on the other side of the fence. But guess what was caught in the middle, attached to the fence? I was in danger!
At that point, I needed to make a split-second decision and act. My choices were to do nothing and see what would happen; detach my crotch from the barbed wire and get out of the pasture or detach myself from the barbed wire and go talk that bull out of goring me. HMMMMM! Until the bull came charging, I was most comfortable doing nothing. Do you ever feel that you are in that situation in your life – your work, your relationships, as a friend, as a parent, or as in my case with the bull – as an enemy?
So, what do you think I did? Exactly! I found a way to detach to my right and faced the angry bull. But here is the twist… I talked him down. You don’t believe that? Good because that is not at all what I did. I struggled painfully and mightily to detach myself from that fence and get out of the pasture before the enemy could gore me. Whew! It was a painful process and extremely stressful, but it was the choice I made, and I am so glad I did. I will ask you the same question again… have you been through that?
In a famous new testament scripture from the book of John, chapter 16, verse 33 it is written – “… In this world, you will have trouble… “. There is no doubt about that.
I believe that trouble can be a major cause of double-mindedness. Because of trouble (however, you define it) we become fearful. I believe when we become fearful, we too often look for shelter, and sometimes in the wrong place. If I would have looked for shelter by crying instead of moving, I doubt I would have escaped the aggression of the bull. That would have been a regretful decision for me.
Some key indicators of double-mindedness are 1) being unsettled, 2) being untethered and 3) being unstable. Though some may think being untethered provides freedom, I disagree. Think about it. If you are not attached to anything, what are you lacking or missing? Family; friends; love relationships; direction or guidance; identity; more?
Crossroad events that can develop double-mindedness in us are the storms of life – significant loss, significant hurt, and significant moral failure. It can also develop during temptation – substance abuse, emotional escape, and relationship misbehavior. And more subtly it can develop during doubts – intellectual insecurity, disappointment, or hero letdowns and transition or change uncomfortableness.
There is a saying “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”. That doesn’t mean you are close-minded. On the contrary, if you have a firm foundation you are far more likely to be confident enough to be open-minded than if you lack a foundation. The point is, being indecisive only leads to being easily influenced. That may lead to negative circumstances in your life, without you even knowing it.
Look, life is tough, no matter how you slice it. As in the Toby Mac song, Scars where he wrote these lyrics – “It doesn’t matter who you are, this world’s gonna leave some battle scars”. Yep! You better believe it! Do you have any?
Sister Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela most certainly all experienced storms of life, temptation, and doubts. As have you and me! And they may have even been double-minded from time to time, but I can assure you, it wasn’t the way they lived. They were focused on their beliefs and goals and doing the right thing. Let’s join them. It may be painful, but it could save our lives.
In the neighborhood of 3,000 years ago, the servant of God, Elijah, went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between opinions?” That’s sufficient notice, don’t you think?