Maybe you are great with boundaries, or perhaps like me, and you’ve had to learn the hard way. Have you ever had a high maintenance person, job, or situation in your life that dominated your much of your time and attention? You may not even notice it until they have moved on and left a gigantic hole in your life in which they previously reigned. I hate cancer, but it gave me the gift of seeing the value in and instituting boundaries. I like to think I’ve learned my lesson, but I regard it as a weakness that needs to be under the complete lordship of Christ.
Time and trial have revealed one of my most controlling and formidable foes. This enemy feels like home, is as close as a hushed whisper in a waiting ear. Our thoughts have intermingled for so many years, that sometimes, it’s hard to discern which ones are mine. My mental and emotional energy has been divided, robbing me of achieving some of God’s blessings from my life. I saw this played out in my pole bean plants earlier in the year. While I was trying to get control of my problem children plants, I neglected my flourishing pole beans. By the time I paid attention, they had become a knotty mess of three plants that I was unable to untangle. We can be so distracted with our foe or friend, that we forget what’s under our nose. In my case, it’s been between my ears. These are the thoughts that plague my brain.
“… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
Cutting It Out
The greatest enemies we need to fear are not without but from within ourselves. They are thoughts that creep in convoluting our focus, dividing our energy and resources. I had planted three pole bean plants in a square foot area. Since I didn’t maintain them, they grew so twisted together, and I couldn’t tell one plant from the other. I had to pull the center plant out by the roots and cut off its supply. The vines of the center plant had to die. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t look pretty as a third of the leaves and vines withered and died. We have to be as ruthless with our anxious thoughts too. The work of freedom begins with discerning the truth and dividing our thoughts from the ideas of the foe. It’s uncomfortable to admit our weakness and our lack of faith, but when we do, we are on our way to freedom. Most of the battle starts in the brain, what one preacher called “our stinkin’ thinkin’.”
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32
God Can Give Us Peace
When I’ve allowed my mind to be intertwined with that toxic person, job, or thought pattern, God gave me little warnings. I justified it because it met some kind of need. If I were an attentive gardener of my mind and heart, I would have walked away earlier. We are humans that can be distracted in a world dominated by entities vying for our thoughts and manipulating our needs. Sometimes it’s not the person but judgments and wrong ideas of an individual, a race, or a group. Every thought I’d give to how they’ve hurt or limited me simultaneously builds up my identity as their victim. God allows us the freedom of the consequences that come along with an unhealthy pairing and victim thinking. In a world of dismal and intense distractions, God can give us peace.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23-24
My prayer today is as David prayed over a thousand years before Christ, Psalm 139:23-24. God, search me today, know my thoughts, and help me to see them in the light of your truth. See what I’ve set up in your place, whether it be a relationship, a prejudice, an identity or anxiety, and fear. Please help me to see it, to lay it at the foot of the cross, and lead me out of my weakness and challenges to your everlasting goodness.