August 16, 2019
Download MP3 (right click to save)
It's got to be one of my favorite plays - "Fiddler on the Roof." The story is virtually a modern classic. It tells with this incredible charm and warmth the story of 19th Century Jews in Russia. All the joys of Jewish faith and Jewish family are there, along with the pain of persecution for being Jewish. Tevye, the milkman, is the colorful father of the family; a man who is forever arguing with himself. If you're familiar with the play, you'll remember how his conversations with himself - and even with God - will go back and forth as he talks himself in and out of opposite viewpoints. Tevye will present one view, and then inadvertently he will say, "On the other hand..." and he'll talk himself out of it. He doesn't actually reach many conclusions!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Paralysis of Analysis."
There are a lot of folks who have a little bit of Tevye in them - always analyzing, often not reaching any conclusion. I'm a data-based decision maker. I like to weigh all the information I can before I make a decision or a commitment. And that's a good thing until it paralyzes you; until it keeps you from exercising the one thing the Bible says you have to have to please God - faith.
In John 6, beginning with verse 7, we see an example of the disciples going as far as analyzing could take them and nearly missing a great miracle. Jesus and His disciples are facing this hungry multitude of at least 5,000 people. Sizing up the situation analytically, in our word for today from the Word of God, Philip gets his calculator out and tells Jesus, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" So much for the earth-math. Jesus is about to do something that earth-math could never anticipate.
Andrew's calculation is simpler but it leads to the same human-sense conclusion. He said, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" But using miracle-math instead of earth-math, Jesus instructs His men to "Have the people sit down." You probably know the rest. Thousands were fed from that one small lunch, and the disciples "filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over." Don't you just love it - one basket of leftovers for each disciple. So much for earth-math.
When Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth, all the people there could do was analyze Jesus' history, and the Bible says it was the one place Jesus could do no miracle because of their unbelief. Endless analysis (intellectual, theological) ultimately takes you in this futile circle and it often costs you the miracles that come only to those who risk everything on a great Savior.
"We walk by faith, not by sight," Paul says (2 Corinthians 5:7). Now some people need to think a little more and they need to use their God-given mind to seek out the truth. But there's only so far thinking and analyzing can take you. Those who try to figure out the science of stepping out of a boat when Jesus says to, will never know what it is to walk on water.
Right now, God may be asking you to take a step that doesn't quite add up. All your analyzing can't show you how you're going to get from here to there. The bridge over that gap? Yeah, it has a name. It's called faith.
Don't miss some wonderful things God wants to do because you're suffering from the paralysis of analysis. You belong to a Lord who loves to do, as the Bible says, "immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine!" (Ephesians 3:20).