I just watched my 6-year-old son at his first soccer practice. I watched as he seemed to think before every step. He would hesitate between setting his body up and kicking the ball and you could almost see the gears turning in his head. It was pretty comical to see him try so hard and yet be so slow and halt as he went through the drills. He was overthinking everything. One could almost guess the inner dialogue that was running through his mind. “Is this right? Or was it like this? How was that supposed to go again? Is my stance right? They are all watching so I have to get this perfect.”
On the other hand, there is my 2-year-old girl who was also at the practice. She was the whirlwind that was running across the field without a care in the world. She did not care to think and stop before running into the parking lot. This, of course, caused her mom to chase her and yell. She wasn’t thinking anything through. Her inner dialogue (if any) would have been a simple, “Weee! Running is fun!”
As I looked at these two children of mine, I could not help but think about how people get caught up between these two extremes, especially when it comes to our faith. Certain people are more predisposed to one way, but most people find themselves going from one extreme to the other.
We can overthink our faith. This is the person that is trapped in anxiety about whether they are good enough. They know the gospel and they know it is not about being good enough, but they still can’t stop thinking and dwelling on the fact that they aren’t good enough. This is Martin Luther before his conversion driving his confessor mad by confessing every single thing. This is the person that sits up at night and wonders if they are not on the exact path that God wants them to follow in their life, as if God commanded them to find that path and never deviate. These are the people who can’t make decisions because they are wrecked with the possibility that maybe one is what God wants and the other is not. When we overthink our faith we tend to have some really bad thoughts and go places God never said to go with those thoughts.
On the other hand, so many of us don’t stop and think about our faith and so faith starts to not impact our lives and how we live. We are like a small child just running through life that never stops and thinks “if the Lord wills” or “how does the gospel change how I should react here?” This is the person who claims to believe and you see their sincerity, but they make a mess of their lives through horrible decisions not grounded in any biblical wisdom. This is the person whose friends continually reign them in from just following everyone else. This is the person who hasn’t stopped to wonder how the gospel would call for a change in how they live. When we don’t think about our faith, we tend to live and think like the world.
We need to be wise and think through the implications of the gospel and our faith. We apply it to our lives, but we also need to not over think. And the only way to do that is to trust. We lean not on our own understanding, but rather on God’s. To lean on something or someone is to trust them. They are our support. And when we do that we can stop our racing minds and sleep soundly.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7