Troublesome Neighbors


    Sometimes an otherwise pleasant neighborhood will be kept in an uproar of trouble by a few trouble makers. Human trouble makers are not to be compared with some other kinds.

  I am fortunate enough to have splendid neighbors. Nevertheless in this good neighborhood there is a great deal of trouble caused by certain ones. The names of these trouble makers are not Jones, and Adams, and Thompson, or anything of that sort. There are three of these families of trouble makers. Two of them are the 'ifs" and the "maybes." Not far away live the "buts," who are close relatives of the others. Most of these belong to the "doubt" family or to their close neighbors, the "unwillings."

  These "ifs" and "buts" are a numerous brood. They are quite vocal. They are always ready to make suggestions to us. They are full of questions. They are constantly reminding us of the uncertainty of things, and not infrequently they make them appear much more uncertain than they really are.

  Let me introduce some of the "ifs." Here is one, "If I were just sure." This one suggests that you don't really know. You should be a little more certain. You might make a mistake.

  Perhaps you are already acquainted with this one.

  It says, "If I were just sure I am saved"; "If I were just sure I am right"; "If I could know so that I could not question it."

  How many times you have been tormented by this bad neighbor! Perhaps you were satisfied for a time about your experience, or about other things, but this has been succeeded by questioning and uncertainty an wondering. This "if" makes you frequent visits, but i never a welcome guest. You have to deal with him some way. Are you able to do so satisfactorily P

  Another "if" is, "If I didn't feel so." Yes, you would like to have pleasant feelings all the time, but that can not always be. Whenever you have feelings you dislike or that cause you trouble, this "if" is ready to suggest that you should not be too sure of your position. I says you should not undertake any spiritual work until you feel differently. You agree with it and say, "If I didn't feel so, thenó"

  A full brother to this "if" is, "If things didn't seem so." To be sure things sometimes look out of proportion. We have feelings that things are not as they ought to be. We cannot get things to seem right. We are troubled, restless, and uncertain because of the trouble this "if" gives us.

  The next "ifs" are twins. "If I were not tempted so," and "If I were not tried so." Yes, how happy you could be if it were not for these twins. But they are your close neighbors. They visit you every now and then. And how tormenting they can be! If you could move away and leave them you would rejoice. But if you should move they would move with you. You must always expect to have them as neighbors, so you must find a nay of adjusting yourself to them, so that they will not spoil your happiness or hinder your life.

  Another "if" that has brought terror to many a soul is, "It I am not right." This "if" can visit you on nearly any occasion. It has no manners. It may come in the dead of night. It may come when you are getting along Fell. It may come when you are having troubles, when you are bothered, tempted, or not feeling good physically. But whenever it comes it tends to give you a spiritual shock. It makes you ask the question, "What if I am mistaken?" or sometimes, "What if I am deceived?" A great many people suffer because they fear to be deceived. It is needless to suffer from such fear. God will not let an honest soul be deceived with respect to his relations with him. It is only the ones who will not hare the truth to whom he sends delusions. It is our privilege to know our situation and not to worry about being deceived. Sin is deceitful, but righteousness, never.

  Another "if" of the "doubt" family is, "If God don'tó." We must have help from God. We put our frost in him. But what if he should fail us? What if his promises should not be fulfilled?

  Another "if" is, "if I fail." The possibility of failure is ever before us and we can let this "if" be a great barrier to all our efforts if we will. Another "if" is, "If Satan shouldó." Yes, we can imagine many things that he might do. We can fear him and let this fear become a bondage. This fear is a troublesome neighbor to many. Another "if" is, "If circumstancesó." It is always whispering about things that may happen. It creates foreboding and fears of the future. These are only a few of the "ifs" that live close neighbors to many of us.

  We now turn our attention to the "but" family First, "but I." It says, "But I am so weak." Then it shows all our weakness. It calls our attention to the] failures of the past. It pictures up how likely we are] to fail in the future. Yes, we should like to do this, that, and the other, but "my weakness!" It also says, "But my ignorance, I do not know how. If I try I shall only blunder."

  There is much being said in psychological circles about inferiority complexes. There are a great many people who have a sense of inferiority. They think others can do things better than they; that others are better than they are. They think they must always be in the rear of the procession. They are always minimizing their own abilities and their various good qualities. "But" is the favorite word of this inferiority complex. It can always imagine difficulties that do not exist.

  Another of this family is, "But they." It is the expression of man fear. "But they will say"; "But they will think"; "But they will do." Many people are held back, and their lives stunted, by constant fear of what others think, say, or do.

  Another of the family is, "But if." This thing will happen, that thing will happen, or the other thing will happen. This obstacle will arise; that difficulty must be met.

  These "buts" and "ifs" and all their kind have one spokesman for them all that says the final word. When it is pointed out to us that there are ways to overcome all these troublesome neighbors, when the victory way is made clear, when we are exhorted to be free, to be our real selves, to rise above these things, when our friends would instill courage into us, then this spokesman is heard. It is, "Yes, but maybe." It admits all that has been said, but still it has some additional fears to bring up.

  What will you do with these "buts," these "ifs," these troublesome neighbors of yours? You have to do something with them. Sometimes you can ignore them. At otter times you have to use other methods to overcome them. Anyway, you must overcome them before you will have learned the secret of the singing heart. As long as you are tormented by these you will not feel like singing. It is possible for you to arrive at the place and adopt the attitude that will enable you to look all these "ifs" "d "buts" in the face and then go unfalteringly on your way heavenward.

  You must put them to rout with the sword of faith. You must shield yourself from their darts when they Assail you with the shield of faith. The "ifs" and "buts" are what gives faith its opportunity. Faith is intended e' en antidote for uncertainty and fear. It will cure the worst case of it. It will put to flight all your foes. It will silence your questioning. It will soothe your fears and quiet your troubled heart. It will make you conscious of your strength. It will enable you to overcome your temptations. It will keep you steadfast through your trials. It will enable you to trust regardless your feelings. It will give you assurance.

  The little girl taught by her teacher in school to punctuate learned a lesson in natural things that would be well for us to learn in spiritual things. She cam home and told her mother what she had learned. He' mother said, "Indeed, and how did you do it?" "Well Mamma," said the little girl, "It is just as easy as can be. If you say a thing is so, you just put a hatpin after it. But if you are only asking whether it is so or not' you put a button-hook."

  The hatpin, of course, represented a period, and the buttonhook, an interrogation-mark. I fear some of us have too great a supply of button-hooks. We are putting them after too many things. We need a greater supply of hatpins. Whenever God says anything, whenever he makes us a promise, be sure you put a hatpin after it. Your feelings will tell you to use the buttonhook, but it does not belong there. It belongs after nothing that God says. So when you go to read your Bible get a handful of hatpins. After every promise you read put a hatpin. After everything God says, put a hatpin. Then be sure that later you do not replace it with a button-hook.

  Then, too, we need to put many hatpins after things in our own life. Say, "God will not fail," then put a hatpin after it. Say, "I shall not fail," and the hatpin. Settle things, then put hatpins after them and never allow yourself to change to button-hooks. God wants us to be certain.

  Faith is not only the antidote for fear and uncertainty. It is also the preventive of doubt and fear. Faith is the anchor of the soul. Anchor yourself with it by definitely exercising it each day.

  In you life do what God wants you to do. Do what duty demands, then make God responsible for the contingencies. When you work for anyone you obey his instructions, and then you let him be responsible for the consequences. That is exactly the way to do with God. Do his will, do your duty, and then do not be fearful of the consequences. Put the "ifs" and "buts" to rout. Keep up your shield of faith, wield your sword of f&ish, and you will conquer these enemies.