I have started and scrapped about ten different posts now. I can’t seem to get my brain really flowing on one particular thing this week.
I was running this morning . . . on the treadmill because it’s just above freezing and the wind is blowing 25 miles an hour, and I don’t do outdoor, cold weather runs . . . I like myself more than that . . . usually running or working out are the best times to think about writing because when my body is moving, and I’m pushing myself hard, my brain can finally calm and focus. This morning it wasn’t quite as focused as I like, but I did have some thoughts on some “stuff” . . . if you will indulge me for a moment.
I was thinking about our thoughts . . . I know that sounds weird . . . thinking about thinking, but I am the type of person that can live in my head way too easily. I also have a tendency to dwell and ruminate on things, and my thoughts can go from a fleeting thing that should pass through my mind to something that has decided to set up camp pretty rapidly if I’m not cautious and aware of my reactions. We’ve probably all heard something to the effect of, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting there.” Meaning thoughts are going to come that we often don’t like . . . thoughts that could potentially cause fear, worry, anxiety, and even, behaviors and choices that are flat out wrong . . . but they don’t have to take up residence in our minds.
It’s a popular “thought” pattern (that was intentional) in Christian circles. And I agree with it to some extent. Here’s what I don’t agree with and what I was thinking about this morning . . . there is often this sense of power that is given to us to control our thoughts and even what happens to us within Christian circles, teachings, and groups, that is honestly, not biblical and borders on (maybe even crosses the territory into) new age thinking. There’s this “you create your own reality” attitude, and yes, our choices and decisions do in some measure create our world, but sometimes we can do it all right, and still face hardships. We cannot forget that we live in this fallen world. Jesus himself told us that in this world we will have trouble, but be of “good cheer” HE has overcome the world (John 16:33). And that’s the key. Jesus has overcome. Not me. Not you. It’s not in my might, my strength, or my power but in the power of the Holy Spirit that I overcome (Zechariah 4:6). We give ourselves way too much credit, and even worse, we often give the devil way too much credit while stealing the credit from the ONE to whom is truly due.
We live in a fallen, broken world, and even as Christians . . . maybe even more so . . . we’re going to face some stuff. We’re going to have to fight the good fight. But we don’t do it in our power. We do it through the power of the Holy Spirit . . . by seeking the wisdom of God and putting the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Having said all that, sometimes we do create our own messes. Just ask Adam and Eve what happened when they listened to the serpent. So back to the bird analogy . . . there are these precious, sweet . . . okay I’m lying . . . they’re super irritating . . . barn swallows that come every year and want nothing more than to build their messy mud nests on my front porch. I probably shouldn’t, but I despise those little creatures. Every year, I forget about them until they start flying around, and I find mud and grass and a mess on the porch. And every year, I only have to do one thing to get them to go away. I turn on the fans. I turn on the fans, and they fly away. But those fans aren’t coming on if there isn’t any power to them, so I had best be sure they’re working before the birds start flying.
When the thoughts come that we know we shouldn’t be dwelling on . . . that we know are damaging or will lead us down the wrong path . . . how do we turn on the fans?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
We have to hook up to the power source. And it’s not ourselves. It’s not within us in our own right. It only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We open the bible. We meditate on scriptures. We pray and seek wisdom through the Holy Spirit. We obey . . . we obey the word . . . we obey its statutes and teachings . . . obedience is not popular but obedience is the key to unlocking so much of the power of God and His blessings in our lives. We often try to live this Christian life playing both sides. Living in a way that is directly and willfully rebellious and disobedient, but then wondering why we have no power in our lives. Y’all, I want to shout it from the rooftops. God doesn’t give us “rules”, for lack of a better word, just to make our lives miserable or because He’s the mean curmudgeon in the sky. . . He doesn’t tell us what is right and wrong just to keep us from having fun . . . His statutes . . . His precepts . . . His commands are protective not punitive. He created us . . . He loves us . . . He knows how damaging sin is . . . He knows what we need to live a life that can only be fulfilled through Him. He knew it in the Garden of Eden, and He still knows it today.
There is always grace and forgiveness and redemption at the cross. There is always a fresh start in Jesus, but there is also a transforming process that should come as we seek Him. So many of our struggles start with thoughts. Thoughts that we allow to nest in our minds. Thoughts that were never meant to be there. But if we want to turn on the fans, we’ve got to have the power. And the only way to get that power is through submission to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit . . . in allowing them to transform and do a work in us and through us through the bible, prayer, and obedience. It’s that easy, and it’s that hard, and it’s a choice absolutely does lie with us.
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”Corrie Ten Boom
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A little note: Don’t bother to email or comment about what a horrible person I am for not letting the birds build their nests.I’m still turning on the fans.