Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Think About What You Think About -
Conquering Fear and Anxiety With The Truth Of God's Word

I am relishing these longer days, with the sun rising early and lingering late into the evening. The mornings are still cool, but not so much that I can't open the door and allow for the fresh air to fill the room. The bird praise just after sunrise each morning is glorious.

I welcome this peaceful start, as for the past several days I've sensed a restlessness in my spirit that I've struggled to pinpoint. My sleep has been fitful, filled with wild dreams, and two nights in a row now I've awakened, first at 2:00 a.m. and then this morning at 3:00, unable to quiet my mind and drift back to sleep. I've moved to the couch both times, prayed, spent some time on my laptop and prayed again. And then this morning when I looked at the date on my calendar, I realized that it was two years ago this coming Sunday that my mom passed away. She was in the hospital on life support for four days prior to that, and I think that these days will forever be marked now by those memories. It was a grueling and agonizing week, and memories of it linger with me still.

But I sense that there is more, some of which I am aware of but not ready to talk about, at least not here in this space. But one of the things that I will share that is troubling me, is that we need to move again, and to say that I am tired of moving would be an understatement. I have known since Bill moved back home last October, that where we are living now wouldn't work for long. But there was apparently a misunderstanding, and now circumstances have arisen that necessitate that we move sooner than I had expected, and I'm struggling to move forward in peace. But this is what I know, that change will inevitably come, and if my peace, our peace, is built upon our bank account, our address, the number of friends we have on Facebook, or the number of likes our latest post merited on Instagram, upon anything outside of Jesus Christ alone, peace will elude us.  Our circumstances do not determine our peace, only Jesus.

I started a new bible study during my sacred start this week.  If you haven't read my previous post, sacred start is what many refer to as their quiet time.  If you want to know more about why I refer to it as such, you can read that post, here. The study I am doing, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World (link may require that you sign up for a free account), speaks to how our thoughts shapes our actions, and why it is important, as the author admonishes, "to think about what you think about". I will be the first to freely admit, that when it comes to my thought life, well, let's just say it's in stereo and color! Being an introvert, I've spent an incredible amount of time throughout my life, as my mother referred to as, "in my head".  Observant and analytical, if I'm not careful I can analyze myself and the world around me right down into a deep dark hole. I've made efforts over the years, with varying success, to "take every thought captive", but to be honest when you consider my thought life, that in itself is a full time job.

In recent years I've combatted my negative thoughts (I am prone to being a bit of a pessimist), by being more thoughtful with what I allow to enter my mind. I've eliminated certain genres of reading and especially movies and television, when I realized they produced an unrest in my spirit. And then this week I read a verse that built upon this even further. about the analogy of what happens when we try to rid ourselves of negative or dark thoughts, without replacing them with new, life giving thoughts. The author used the example found in Matthew 12:43, about leaving a clean, empty space (our minds) open for more dark negative thoughts to inhabit it again. When we rid our minds of dark, anxious or sinful thoughts but do not replace those thoughts with the truth of God's word, the enemy returns with seven other spirits more wicked than before to torment us. I was encouraged when I read, "There is a better way to control our thoughts, and it's not "try harder". Instead we fill our minds with the truth and promises that Christ has given to us. Truths such as;

"We have the mind of Christ." 
- 1 Corinthians 2:16

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good pleasing and perfect will." 
- Romans 12:2

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 
- 2 Corinthians 10:5

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, 
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." 
- Philippians 4:8

It was this last verse that first made me become more aware of what I allowed to enter my mind, and I've been amazed at the difference I've felt in my spirit. But my biggest, continuing battle when it comes to taking my thoughts captive, is fear and worry. I realized recently that in my pessimism, I've grown cynical.  Because I've experienced pain and disappointment before, I just naturally assume that history will repeat itself.  Since our thoughts control our actions, I believe that some of the struggles I've encountered over the years were a direct result of that thought pattern. A self fulfilling prophecy.

Armed with this new found knowledge, in those moments when I feel fear and anxiety arise, especially with regards to our need to move again, I will fill my mind with these truths from scripture.  Promises such as;

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, 
or what you will wear. . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well." 
- Matthew 6: 25, 34


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, 
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, which transcends 
all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
- Philippians 4:6-7

and finally,

"Consider the ravens, they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; 
yet God feeds them. . Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  
Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" 
- Luke 12:24-26

I cut my teeth on these truths. These are the same messages I heard in my youth, but even now in my adult life, the enemy still seeks to pluck the rooted seeds of His word.  In giving thought to my worries, I realize that while I've known in my heart that I "should not" worry, I was guilty of thinking that if I just "tried harder"not to, that things would get better. Every time I would think of moving, of the hardship of packing up once again, of the hours of looking for a place that we can afford, and worrying that with our limited budget what that might be, and being fearful (this is where my heart has been for weeks now), as much as I knew that I shouldn't worry, I didn't combat  those negative thoughts with the truth and promises of God's word. But that ends today.

I don't know what tomorrow, even this afternoon holds for me. But one thing I do know is that I am 57 years old and I've survived every day of my life so far. That may sound silly, but when you think about it, it's true. There has never been a day of my life so far that I went hungry or did not have a place to rest my head. My Father, who loves me, knows my needs (your needs). He created me and instilled His purpose within me, and He will see it through until it's completion. These are promises, from His word that as His child we can all claim!  He knows my needs, and He will provide for me and for my family, just as he does every day for the birds of the air, and just as He had done every single day of my life thus far, and as He has promised that He will continue to do.

Give me a ravenous faith, Lord.  One that hungers for you more than for what I will eat, or wear, or where I will lay my head.  Quicken your truth in my heart and fill my mind, which is the mind of Christ, with your word!

And may it be so, my friends, for you!

Until then, rest in His peace!


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