We're apt to regard our thoughts as fleeting and unimportant. As a result, we imagine that it matters very little what we think, as long as we say and do what's right. Yet, in the last analysis, everything depends on our initial thoughts.
Our thoughts are the products and proof of our character. But they're infinitely more than that! They're the very materials out of which our character, lives, and destinies are built. Evil thoughts mar and destroy. Good thoughts build up, encourage, elevate, and refine. What we shall be in the future is based on what we think today. For what we think today, provides the basis from which all our words and actions spring.
Above all, as Christ rules in our hearts, His radiance beautifies our thoughts. He enables us to lift our thoughts above all that's sinful and to keep them steadily in the presence of God. Paul had this in mind when he said, ". . . whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
This is the peace that Christ earned for us by His death on the cross and that enters our hearts by faith in Him.
Guard your heart ~ for it's the wellspring of life.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me."
There's Value In Stillness of Mind
Dare I Be Still? "Isn't it dangerous attempting to empty your mind of all thoughts, feelings and images? Isn't an idle mind the devil's workshop?" That question has risen in every class on contemplative prayer I've been in. First, I doubt that we can do it. It's almost impossible to stop the mind from thinking. Our goal's not an idle mind, but a quiet and stilled mind. We try to recall all our wandering thoughts and center ourselves totally in God. A simple prayer word or phrase helps us do this. We want to hold one simple prayer in our mind and heart. In time, our clamoring thoughts begin to quiet. We long to give "loving attentiveness" to God. We want to sit still and silent in the Presence. "The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth be silent before him." (Habakkuk 2:20) Our most eloquent words and creative images are so paltry before Him. "Silence is God's primary language, all else is a poor translation." Second, we need to remember who lives within us. God, in Jesus Christ, through the person of the Holy Spirit, indwells the heart of every believer. We don't come to prayer as empty vessels, even though we may often feel so. Through centering ourselves in God, we find wholeness and healing from the fragmentation. The devil doesn't live within the believer - Jesus does. In contemplative prayer, we're surrendering ourselves to this Christ within. We enter into the silence of our own hearts and find ourselves in the silence of God. What joy and peace there is in Him. Third, 1 John 4:4 reminds us, "the one who's in you is greater than the one who's in the world." Jesus says, "... take heart, I've overcome the world." (John 16:33) As you continue your journey with God, you may find yourself beset with fears, guilt and temptations of all kinds, even during your prayer times. Offer them to God. God's wanting to bring healing and wholeness to the deepest recesses of your mind and heart. Bad thoughts, evil images can surface from a subconscious that has been bombarded by and entertained such for a life time. They're not likely from the evil one. God's wanting to surface, cleanse and heal all our brokeness. We can welcome the stillness and silence. God's there!
There's A Mite Difference Between
My grandfather once took me into a toy store and told me to pick out whatever I wanted. In those days---before playthings got more technologically sophisticated than the Mars space probe---you could purchase a kid's toy without forking over the approximate cost of Ivana Trump's winter wardrobe.
I took Grandpa's offer to mean that he was willing to buy me as much as I could cart out of the store. I loaded my arms with enough merchandise to enable the owner to close up shop and spend the rest of the year drinking coconut on the beaches of Tahiti.
When he spied my pile of playthings, Grandpa looked as if he were about to burst several major arteries. He managed to sputter these words: "Sammy, I meant what I said. You can have anything you want. But, child, you can't have everything."
We live in an age that assumes that "getting everything" is completely reasonable. Our society has a hard time understanding the importance of setting priorities and acknowledging limits. Too many people build their philosophy of life on the keen insights they derive from beer jingles: "Who says you can't have it all?" So we see people who seem genuinely baffled when they guzzle endless "light" beers and discover that their waislines have expanded to measure only a few centimeters less than the coastline of France.
Even believers sometimes have trouble remembering that overgrasping tends to leave us with a fistful of nothing. Now many Christian celebrities have tried in vain to simultaneously lay hold of high status, widespread popularity, financial opunce, and spiritual vigor? That's too many spheres of influence to juggle in the air at the same time. More often than not, these individuals wind up disappointed and a step below cheese mold on the spiritual development scale.
At one point, King David tried to be a big-shot ruler, a red-hot Romeo, and a man after God's own heart. Almost too late, he came to realize that it's impossible to fit all those "goodies" into the standard backpack that life allots us. He had to eliminate the sexual sins or risk splitting the seams and losing it all.
No, we can't have everything we sometimes think we want---but we can have the most important things if we pray wisely and choose well.