To know what God has for you, you must face doubts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 27, 2018

I sat in the hallway crying—that’s how awful I felt.

This was in the nineties, and I was outside my university registrar’s office. I wanted to take a graduate class in writing.

“I’m not good enough,” I said sitting there.

The registrar came out and talked to me, and I finally filled out the paperwork.

I also remember the night of the first class—standing in the hall afraid. I followed a middle-aged student inside and sat beside her. What I so badly feared turned into a great experience and led me to do things even more challenging.

This classmate encouraged me to enter the state’s annual writing competition.

“No,” I said.

But then, just before the midnight deadline, I postmarked a submission at Kinkos. Weeks later, I placed third.

I went on to place three years in a row. We all have a dream and mine is to make a movie—these prizes were for screenplays.

That 3rd year, I summoned my courage and traveled to a national screenwriters’ conference—an amazing adventure. I met famous screenwriters and the vice president of Columbia Pictures. I told the latter about those small awards.

“Send me the screenplays!” he said, giving me his address.

It’s painful to admit this—I didn’t do it, certain they weren’t good enough.

I’m not the only one with self-doubt. Consider this Bible story.

Both Matthew and Mark give almost identical accounts of how Jesus chose Peter. Our Lord is by the Sea of Galilee and calls to Peter to follow Him. Two sentences. Matthew 4:18-19, Mark 1:16-17

But there’s more to that story. Luke gives us details that perhaps Matthew and Mark didn’t know. This story is heartfelt—we see just how vulnerable Peter is.

Here’s what happened: As Jesus is teaching by the Sea of Galilee, the crowd presses in on Him trying to hear. So Jesus climbs into an empty fishing boat—the fishermen are off washing their nets.

This boat belongs to Peter, and Jesus asks him to push out a little from land. Our Lord then sits down to teach.

“Launch out into the deep,” Jesus says to Peter when He finishes teaching, “and let out your nets for a catch.”

“Master, we’ve toiled all night and caught nothing,” Peter says. “Nevertheless, at Your word, I’ll let down the net.”

Jesus apparently gives the nod at some point, and the catch is so great that Peter’s net begins to break. He signals to his partners, James and John, to bring another boat. But the fish fill both boats to the point where they begin to sink, and that’s when it happens.

Peter falls to his knees before Jesus. What does he say?

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

If you read it quickly, you may think Peter is afraid of Jesus. Not so. Read on.

Luke tells us Peter is astonished by the catch of fish. Clearly, it represents weeks or months of work and a lot of money. So why did Peter tell Jesus to go away?

“Depart from me,” Peter says, “for I am a sinful man…”

The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “Simon Peter thought himself quite unworthy.” Peter was filled with shame—I am not good enough.

How does Jesus answer Peter?

“Do not be afraid.” Jesus says. “From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:1-10

Indeed, years later Peter’s first sermon will bring 3,000 to Christ. Acts 2:14-41

But it began with this decision at this moment. Peter had to climb over his fear of not being good enough. I wasn’t able to get past mine with the screenplays.

Self-doubt is everywhere. Can’t go to church—my hair isn’t done, I have nothing to wear, my car is old, I’ve gained weight. Can’t volunteer, can’t join Bible study, can’t lead.

I am not good enough.

Jesus told Peter: “Do not be afraid.”

Say aloud over and over again: God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7

You’ll never know what God has for you if you don’t face your self-doubt.

Jesus says: “Do not be afraid.”


© 2018 R.A. Mathews   The Rev. R.A. Mathews is a freelance faith columnist, attorney, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Follow her on Twitter @ReachingToGod.