” . . . 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
“Grant, Lord, that I may not for one moment admit willingly into my soul any thought contrary to Your love.” (Edward Pusey d. 1882)
What if God answered that prayer? It would mean that certain kinds of thoughts would be eliminated from my mind: complaining, bitterness, anger, envy, self-condemnation, and unnecessary criticism, to be specific.
Getting rid of those thoughts would, of course, would make room for thinking about things that build faith, confidence, and joy – like thankfulness, encouragement, optimism, hopefulness, and contentment.
I’m joining this 19th Century man in his prayer as I ask God to use my will and His to change me so every thought I allow to remain in my mind is consistent with His love. So simple. So hard. I need you here, Holy Spirit.
“Divine love is perfect peace and joy, it is a freedom from all disquiet, it is all content and happiness; and makes everything to rejoice in itself.” – William Law
Do you know what Jesus feels when He looks at you? Love. Pure, simple, unconditional, unchanging love. Maybe it’s the kind of love a mother feels for her baby.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3
Maybe the kind we feel when we’ve met “the one” we later determine to spend our lives with. It’s the kind of love that draws us toward Him. When someone loves us that way, it’s hard to turn away.
And yet people do. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus to ask about eternal life, Mark says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Even though the guy had a bit of attitude Jesus looked into his eyes and loved him. At that point, though, the young man turned away and decided not to respond to Jesus’ love (Mark 10:17-25).
We have a choice. We can look at our flaws, faults, and sins, declare ourselves unworthy and walk away. We can look at our good intentions, deeds, and self-righteousness, declare ourselves good enough and walk away.
But let’s not do either of those. Jesus is looking at you. Imagine the love in His eyes as He sees you. Look back at Him and allow yourself to move closer and closer into His presence, into His arms. He will never turn away. His love is forever.
“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” – Brennan Manning
“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24
God is always ready to talk to us. Sometimes He just has to wait until we slow down enough to listen. Then He whispers to our hearts words especially suited for whatever situation we face. I have found that, most often, His messages are variations of one of these:
• I love you.
• I will never leave you.
• Don’t be afraid.
Which do you need today? To know how much He loves you? To be secure in His faithfulness? Or to experience the peace that comes by trusting Him?
You can start the conversation by praying with honesty and sincerity about your need. You could even ask Him to awaken your heart to be ready to hear what He wants to say in response. Then just wait in quietness. His message will be perfect to meet what the ancients called your “pressing necessity”. He always knows just what we need to hear. Sh-h-h. Listen.
“He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself nor let
Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.”
– Amy Carmichael
“How blessed all those in whom You live, whose lives become roads You travel . . . God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!”– from Psalm 84:5-7 (MSG)
We fall far short of God’s command to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We want to love Him more, but don’t know how. The truth is only God can grow that kind of love in our hearts. We just have to invite Him in.
Christians through the ages have given God that invitation by adopting a “go to” prayer to open their hearts to Him. For example, when I find my mind wrapped up in something distracting or disturbing, I mentally or quietly pray what is known as the Jesus Prayer: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Others use the first sentence of The Lord’s Prayer, a short verse or phrase, or sometimes just Jesus’ name.
Over time, we will find ourselves saying our chosen words many times each day. These “go to” prayers become sincere invitations to God to walk with us along life’s path even if our minds are not fully engaged at the time.
It is a simple practice, but profound in its power to change us. How?
- God is thrilled to hear from His children, so whenever we turn to Him, He responds.
- We begin to realize that His response is always loving.
- His love feels so good, we can’t help loving Him in return.
Being loved and loving. It’s ours when we turn toward Him – always.
“Give me only a love for You, and the gift of Your grace; then I am rich enough, and ask for nothing more.” – St. Ignatius of Loyola
“He is the wellspring of everything that has ever romanced your heart. . . What we have sought, what we have tasted in part with our earthly loves, we will come face to face with in our True Love.” – John Eldridge
When the lights grow dim
Are you thinking of Him?
Or is your mind too cluttered
With thoughts un-uttered
And words unspoken
And promises broken?
When the day is at end
Do you talk with your Friend?
Or are you doing the dishes
And pondering wishes
And things yet to do
E’re the evening is through?
When you woke in your bed
Was it His name you said?
Or were you thinking of rights
And yesterday’s fights
And battles to win
When the sun comes again?
Our mind is the measure
Of what we most treasure.
It shows us what holds us
And constantly molds us.
If we’re centered on Jesus
And how He does please us,
The thoughts that disturb us
And tend to perturb us
Will crumble and cower
And lose all their power.
Then when the lights grow dim,
We’ll be thinking of Him.
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” – Psalm 91:14