In one of my favorite films, the three main characters are students at the Imperial College of Engineering, somewhere in India. Rancho explains himself one day when Raju asks him why he pats his heart and says “all is well” to himself whenever a scary situation comes up:
“That day I understood that this heart scares easily. You have to trick it, however big the problem is. Tell your heart, ‘Pal, all is well. All is well.'”
“Does that solve the problem?”
“No, but you gain courage to face it.”
How does this idea relate to personal faith? Chapter seven from Steps to Christ, by E. G. White, makes two key points about it.
1. “Do not draw back in despair.”
I don’t find myself having to pat myself on the heart so often in regard to scary situations like overshooting a deadline or getting robbed (both of which have happened). The times I get really nervous about myself and what I’m doing are when I notice the pride that seems to work its way into everything that I do. This blog itself is something that I find myself constantly doubting my motives for. Do I really want to encourage people and spread the word about Jesus, or is it just an ego trip? I mean, the site is named Stephen Erich. Sometimes I find myself really close to quitting it.
But no. When the doubts come, do not draw back in despair. Instead, go ahead and pat your heart for a second, and realize the second point:
2. “Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.”
As you realize, more and more, that everything you do is tainted and you are incapable of anything purely good, that is the perfect opportunity–perfect, I tell you–to stop depending on yourself.
What stronger signal could you get?
So when the doubts come, and you feel like everything you’re doing is a lie or all of your motives are selfish, instead of backing down, pray harder. Call out for God to free you of yourself and work in you, despite you. Even your more earnest prayer might seem like a lie at first: do I really want this, this badly? But push through it. That notion is simply the new perspective you have developed on yourself thanks to your exposure to the incomparable glory of God. Pray earnestly with every dishonest fiber of your dishonest being, and God will help you.
Trust Him on that one. (He is pretty great at helping people, after all.)
All is well.