Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. Hebrews 3:12-13
So, how does it happen? If you’ve been a believer for a while, you’ve heard the story of a strong Christian who just woke up one morning and snapped. He announced that he wanted to completely change his life ~ starting with leaving the faith. He said that he doesn’t believe any of it anymore and he simply doesn’t want the life he’s known. When news spreads, there is disbelief among his family and friends. They didn’t see it coming at all.
Today’s scripture highlights what can cause such extreme behavior. While it appeared that this person’s decision was sudden and out of the blue, it probably wasn’t in his inner life. None of us throws everything away because our heart hardened overnight. None of us will wake up one day to discover that we no longer believe. The journey away from God is a slow process and I must be intimate enough with God to guard my faith. The initial warning needs to be discerned in neon lights.
The writer of Hebrews ties unbelief and deception together. For someone to defect, it started with a seed thought that germinated over time.
“I don’t trust God because . . .”
“If God loved me, then He wouldn’t have allowed . . .”
“God didn’t keep His promise when . . .”
An uncontested lie metastasizes. I am naïve to think that it won’t affect all the other areas where I do believe God. It will. Unbelief is connected to something important that didn’t come to pass, or it’s attached to something that did transpire that I couldn’t handle. The birthplace was deep pain and disappointment. I may not voice the churning but my heart says, privately, “If I can’t trust God in this one big thing, then how can I trust Him with everything else?” Instead of facing the unbelief head on with scripture and warfare, the hurt and lies get rehearsed and seeds germinate.
Distrust and disappointment have hardened many hearts along the way, including my own. I can look back and see how fragile my faith was at certain points. The safeguard is knowing my Achilles heel. It is staying open to the Spirit as He brings unbelief to center stage. It is staying close to a handful of believers who hear me process my life’s story as it happens. It is giving them the power to listen compassionately, to encourage transparency in order to understand how I am interpreting life’s events. Spirit partners are critical to encourage faith when faith doesn’t make sense. They are not policemen but wise counselors. They are not immune to faithlessness but are well acquainted with how wounded hearts heal.
Lord, no wonder you said to take every thought captive. It’s rugged introspection but lies are identified when they first happen ~ before passing thoughts make themselves at home. Help me. Amen