“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
A few years ago, I took our grandson to a petting farm where he could see and touch all kinds of animals. We stopped at the enclosure where baby chickens were chirping excitedly and running around the pen – into and over each other. My grandson said, “I wish they would stand still so I count them.” Even though they were really cute, the chaos was unsettling. But there was no way to control them!
Later I heard God whisper that my thoughts were a lot like those chaotic chicks – noisily bouncing here and there, out of control, without direction, without peace. And, they were. I acknowledged that to be true and then realized he was reminding me that I should put my mind on him alone. I should calmly and confidently look to him and then my thoughts would follow – in a nice, quiet, straight line – just they way I like them.
I understood the problem better when I read this from Paul: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
There is a tempter who wants to create chaos in my thoughts by leading me away from pure devotion to Christ. God, on the other hand, directs me to stay focused on Jesus, promising that peace will follow. We know which of those two we want to listen to, don’t we? As we begin to know Jesus, we realize that he knows the path we need to take. Following him is the only way to peaceful thoughts!
“That which claims the most thorough part of our hearts, minds, and time both reflects and shapes our lives.” – Jill Carinini
Nehemiah had gone to Jerusalem to oversee rebuiding the walls around the beloved city that had been destroyed by war. While in Israel, he not only rebuilt the walls, but became a leader in their society – teaching how God wanted them to live.
One day the people brought him a problem. Many didn’t have enough to eat and were being taken advantage of by those who sold grains and food. They were going into debt, mortgaging their fields, and selling their children into slavery, just so they could eat.
There had to be a better way! I love what Nehemiah did next. He says, “I took counsel with myself” (Nehemiah 5:7). After that thinking time, he confronted the nobles and officials, demanding they follow God’s way by returning the lands they had taken, stop charging interest, and engaging in fair dealings. Surprisingly, they agreed to do as Nehemiah said.
Do you ever “seek counsel with yourself”? There’s a way to do it that I’ve found quite effective. I sit in a quiet place acknowledging God’s presence and his lordship over me. Then, I begin to talk about the problem, thinking it through out loud with him. I am “seeking counsel with myself”, but doing it in God’s presence. He and I work it through together. Often, the answer to my dilemma becomes clear as my thinking is guided by God.
Sometimes, even before we seek counsel from others, maybe we need to do what Nehemiah did. Often God will help us find an answer or a path – just between the two of us.
“God is already present in my life and all around me; prayer offers the chance to attend and respond to that presence.” – Philip Yancey
“He satisifies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” – Psalm 107:9
Do you realize we sometimes vocalize feelings without using words? There are times we sigh and those sighs hint at something deep within us. Do you know who can read those sighs? God can. Look at this:
“O Lord, all my longing is before you. My sighing is not hidden from you.” – Psalm 38:9
Do you want to know the longings buried deep in your soul? Simply turn to the One who can tell you why you sigh. The best part? Once he shows you your true desires, he helps you meet them. Life becomes more focused, more fulfilling, and far less frantic.
It’s OK to sigh, OK to have longings, and more than OK to tell God about them all. He responds to cries of our heart we didn’t even know were there. Pretty amazing, right?
When I asked God to show me my deepest longings, I realized there was one more compelling than any of the others: The longing to know him and sense his presense. All other sighs are reduced to faint whispers when I am with God.
Maybe today would be a good day to sit with our Father in Heaven and talk to him about desires of your heart. Let him reveal the ones you may not know you have – the ones that reflect the true you. Then invite him to lead you on the journey to having your deepest longings fulfilled.
“The soul must long for God in order to be set aflame by God’s love; but if the soul cannot yet feel the longing, then it must long for the longing. To long for the longing is also from God.” – Meister Eckhart
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” – Matthew 6:22-23
When things start to look fuzzy, I realize my glasses need cleaning or updating with some fine-tuned lenses. I want clear vision, both physically and spiritually. I think of it this way:
If we look at the world through the lense of money (How much will it cost? Or how much will we make?), we will never see the world as God sees it. He loves the world without regard to cost.
If we look at other people through the lense of self-righteousness or superiority, we will not be able to discern right and wrong. We will have already made up our minds.
If we look at those around us through a lense of anger, we will never be able to show love or gentleness. We will be harsh and rigid in our judgments.
If we look at our environment through a lense of negativity, we will not be able to see good in others or accept them as Jesus does. We will be critical and untrusting.
Maybe we need to evaluate our perspective. We may find we need a new way of looking at things: God’s way of compassion.
God can give us a compassionate view. He can reveal prejudices and attitudes. He can give insight and understanding. Once we allow Him to correct our vision, our relationships will change and opportunities for new ones will open we cannot yet imagine. First we have to be willing to see things His way. He will do the rest.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
“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