Summary: Determined, to I dont know finally at the truck stop of doubt
Thomas The Determined, Don’t Know, Doubter
We are all familiar with the term “doubting Thomas,” because Thomas doubted Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible never describes Thomas this way. It describes his moment of doubt. But it is one moment, only one, and he moves quickly beyond it. His identity, despite our perception and description of him, is not rooted in that moment. Thomas has been over branded through the years, similar to this Texas rancher:
There is a story that A Texas rancher bought 10 ranches and put them together to form one giant spread. His friend asked him the name of his new mega-ranch. He replied, "It’s called The Circle Q, Rambling Brook, Double Bar, Broken Circle, Crooked Creek, Golden Horseshoe, Lazy B, Bent Arrow, Sleepy T, Triple O Ranch."
"Wow," said his friend, "I bet you have a lot of cattle."
"Not really," explained the rancher. "Not many survive the branding."
There is much that is praiseworthy in Thomas and much that is very common to man. When Jesus, hearing of his friend Lazarus’ sickness in Bethany, tells the disciples they are returning to Bethany, some of them protest: People want to kill you there, Jesus. But Thomas speaks up. "Let us also go," he says, "that we may die with him" (John 11:8, 16). These are hardly the words of a chronic doubter.
Thomas has been branded as a doubter, The truth is the Bible never portrays him as such. Thomas isn’t the only person whom history has defined by a single experience. Consider:
Richard Nixon is remembered more for the Watergate break-in than for the normalization of relations with China.
George Armstrong Custer is known more for his defeat at Little Big Horn than for being the youngest general in the Union Army.
Babe Ruth is known as the "Home Run King" even though he also holds the dubious distinction of being the "Strike-out King."
The story of Thomas is very similar to many of our emotional lives. When the Lord changes something in our lives we become very determined in following that call. However, if we were left to our determination we would all soon become prideful and arrogant, believing our determination caused the fulfillment of that calling. God will allow circumstances to come “interrupt” our calling so we grow more dependent upon Him. He will allow us to realize we are not capable of fully understanding our calling, as well as showing us we don’t have all the qualifications for that calling.
Remember, as my friend Jason Danielson always says, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” We will immediately realize there will be times we don’t know which way to go, or what road to go down. This is usually the turning point in many peoples spiritual lives. When they get to the point of “I don’t know,” many times the will reverse course and follow the road they do know. Following the “I know the way” route will always end up in the truck stop of brokenness. If we will work through and wait upon the Lord during those times of unknowing it will help get us through the next stage.
After we realize we don’t know all the answers, we move to the next mental stop of doubt. Doubt means to be in the mental state of not being sure about something. No one likes to feel unsure about where our lives are heading, or if we are even on the right road. Doubt is a natural emotion we all go through and doubt has proven to be very beneficial. If I were to tell you there are 32,004,665,233,677 stars in the universe based upon some very detailed scientific research, you probably would not doubt that fact. The main reason you would not doubt that fact is because you don’t care how many stars are in the universe, and that little fact has no bearing on your life. The benefit of doubting is it shows you care about something. I told the folks at Cowboy Church if you read in the paper that Kevin Michael Landis is the Osage County Rooster fighting champion, it will probably be true. They immediately started to cast doubts upon me because they care about their pastor and do not want him fighting chickens. However, I have a cousin named Kevin Michael Landis in Avant, Oklahoma, and he owned some champion fighting roosters. Imagine having two people in your family, close to the same age, with the exact same first, middle and last name!
Doubt can be good at times, because it means we care about something, and that something is worth investigating. Thomas is a perfect example of the cycle that goes from determined, to don’t know and finally to doubting.