“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. This timeless truth of Proverbs 23:7 often trips off our tongues with trite ease. It’s worth a more in-depth consideration, though, for we don’t only live inside the world, but also inside the world of our heads – a dark and dangerous place. Life is hard enough, but how we perceive and process it can make it exponentially more painful. How much of life’s unpleasantness is due to the impenetrable gloom and doom of our own thinking?
Lately, significant developments on the horizon of my life are bringing out the latent skittishness and melancholy of my carnal personality, and it’s not pretty. Even though the changes actually are advancing me in the direction I want to go and are unmistakably touched with the favor of the Lord, instead of leaping for joy, I’m agitated and edgy, as if something feral in me is crouched for fight or flight. The Lord is doing something extraordinary; why am I not more confident? Why so hesitant grasp the advantages He’s handing out? Sadly, it dawns on me that my trust levels are pathetically low. I'm fighting through the cloud of past bitter experience. Life regularly disappoints you, so I’m braced for the worst, in both circumstances and people. How sad is that? Apparently, it’s one thing to hold the rod of Moses…and quite another to actually use it.
No one escapes this adverse vortex of primal fear, insecurity and hopelessness on their own. It requires super-human intervention. You’re not imagining it – there’s a formidable array of strong enemies.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the Power of the Air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience… Ephesians 2:1-2 NKJV
As I face intimidating new horizons, there is imagery that comforts me. Of course, it comes from the stories of Scripture. I recall the Jews, coming en masse out of Egypt, poised on the edge of the Red Sea. As they face the daunting problem of how to cross, who should come pounding ominously down upon them but Pharaoh and his army.
And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. Exodus 14:19-20 NKJV
Nothing has changed, certainly not the Lord and His divine intent surrounding us. Here in 2019, the cloud of God’s presence still goes before us, as surely and tenderly as it ever did. Though we may be trembling in our boots, dragged willingly or unwillingly along by the winds of the Spirit, He never leaves us in strange territory to our own devices. We may be fearful, but He is faithful. I love how the Lord gave this lowly slave-nation such a visible sign of His sovereignty on their journey. I love His passionate protection as He moved jealously from the front to cut off their enemies in the rear. Today, also, He still guides, reacting swiftly as our rear-guard when shadow of our past seeks to overwhelm us in the darkness of our own mindsets. There’s really no need for fear; we can see divine defense with our mind’s eye, and be calm.
One of the best disciplines of the last five years is the Lord teaching me how to recognize the negativity of my own thinking and simply walk out of it. As you see, I’m still working on it, but mastery is within my grasp. It’s exhilarating to tell your raging, primordial emotions to sit down and shut up; to simply enjoy the sublime tranquility of knowing you are being led by the Captain of your Soul.
Every day, we face the option to view life through the dingy, secular lenses of misery, despondency, cynicism and worry or through the infinitely more pleasant and healthful rose-colored glasses of God’s covenantal faithfulness. Isn’t it time we got on His page? Don’t worry! Be happy! We have the mind of Christ, and access to His thoughts of unlimited possibility. Let Him bear you up! We’re tapped in to the resources of Heaven! All things are possible to those who believe. Recognizing the paralyzing effect of your own internal Eeyore is a giant step forward in simple joy.
My Meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will rejoice in the Lord. Psalm 104:13
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