Pounding the Pulpit: Doubt isn’t Unusual
Today’s message seems a bit more lively than others. The congregation is rowdy — hanging on every word from the “Bishop’s” mouth. Their beloved preacher, D’von Chambers, leans casually against the pulpit.
“I think it goes without saying that most of us would prefer to live on the mountaintops. Those experiences where you feel like you cannot be touched. You’re floating on the proverbial cloud nine. Your confidence is sky high. You have that positive — ‘I can do anything‘ type attitude. There’s excitement in the air and you have this bold persona that exudes confidence. It’s the time where we look at our adversaries in the face and we say … bring it on!”
A gentlemen (and we’re using that term loosely) leaps to his feet and with an open palm waves to Chambers in an inviting fashion.
“But it’s hard to stay on the mountaintop, isn’t it? In order to get from one peak to the next, we’ve got to come down from the hill that we’re on and work our way up to the other side. We’ve got to wade through the muddy waters of the valleys … and we don’t like the valleys very much, do we?”
The crowd’s chants of ‘no!” reverberate throughout the small chapel.
“When we’re trudging through — doubt starts to creep in. It’s those times when it’s dark and we can’t see the way. When fear takes hold, it’s long and discouraging, and it cripples our human ability to coupe with our surroundings… and that’s when we begin to struggle. That’s when doubt becomes supreme.”
“But my friends … doubt isn’t going away. All of you have heard things that are hard to believe. TV shows suspend beliefs left and right. ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ makes millions of dollars annually telling stories about things that are hard to swallow.”
Chambers wiggles the neatly tied bow-tie underneath the collar of his white button-town shirt.
“Everyone has wrestled with doubt in some form. But there’s an answer for fear and doubt, congregation. It’s belief. Doubts won’t shut down our faith. Noah had never seen rain but guess what? He built the ark anyway! Peter had never walked on water but stepped out of the boat when called upon despite his fears.”
“The Bishop” mimics Peter’s jump from the boat — slowly putting one foot in front of the other and pretending to indeed stand on the water.
“It’s what you do with your doubts that makes all the difference. Doubt is like the desperate teenage boy that’s too ugly to win prom king and his last resort is to try and pull the crown right off the rightful monarch… when in reality, all it can manage to do is put a dent in it’s frame! Regardless, when the crown is placed on the head to which it belongs, it shines! Doubt resorts to tomfoolery in trying to spike the punchbowl with whatever hodgepodge mixed-drink concoction it can get its hands on … only to get caught. So, what do you do with doubt? You grab it by the brim of it’s collar and toss it out the front door … letting it sulk by the curb — defeated.”
Chambers chuckles as he sits on the bottom step of the stage and leans with a sour look upon his face.
“And your Bishop is going to set the stage for you. I’m going to stamp out doubt … once and for all. When we stand before our maker, and believe me, Doubt, we’re going to all stand before our creator, we’re going to be asked one question of our lives. And you can’t outrun your reality … the only response you’ll have left to give is — ‘even I doubted my own doubt.’
The church stands with applause. The offering plate begins to pass throughout the lines of people as Chambers finishes with an enthusiastic line.
‘Show me your faith, my people! Defeat doubt and fill the offering plate with signs of belief!”