I’ll just go ahead and admit it. Several years ago when I first moved to Washington state, I was on my way home from visiting my grandmother in Bothell and quite innocently once ran over a curb making a left turn…at a 7-11, in Fife, on my way home, in the middle of the night, in my uncle’s car. (Insert “oops” emoji face here.) The definition of the word “stuck” does not even come close. It would be more accurate to describe the car as “precariously balanced on a beam, wheels spinning toward a great distance of nowhere.” I was s-t-u-c-k stuck. Once an officer showed up to rescue me, even he wouldn’t leave my side until “Triple A” showed up. At the time, I was having sudden images of myself starring in one of those Farmer’s Insurance commercials…You know, where the drivers end up in some pretty unimaginable situations that are – oddly – actually possible? I think my favorite was the truck that drowned in a frozen lake yet was still “covered by the insurance.” Surely my rates wouldn’t go up because of a left turn. Ha! (Oh, the joys of adulting. Couldn’t I have just made three turns to the right instead?)
Some former New Yorker I made. I felt so ridiculous that I felt I should’ve turned in my “right to talk tough” card, too. Here’s the kicker: I really didn’t see the curb. The left turn looked free and clear. (I have since learned while living in this state that ya’ll don’t like left turns as much as everyone seems to love a random, misplaced divider here and there.) My slight mishap was apparently so memorable that – to this day – they’ve added reflective posts to line the hidden curb and discourage future left turns. (Insert laughing so hysterically that you’re crying emoji face here.) Although glad I could make a change for the sake of public safety, I can’t help but think that if I weren’t so eager for a cup of New York coffee (I have dutifully since then switched to Starbucks and Denny’s), I would not have ended up in that mess in the first place.
So when, on Saturday night, Pastor Dave preached that “the only problem with God changing our circumstances and not changing the way we think is that the repeated old way of thinking will only re-create your circumstances,” I couldn’t help but think of the lesson I’d learned about not making a left turn in Washington state. True, the Lord did change my circumstances via a very nice “Triple A” agent who never laughed once. However, if I had not changed my thinking/attitude – and was determined to one day make a successful left turn into a parking lot, I’d probably have incurred more damage by now than a mildly irritated Uncle.
“Renew your mind by choosing to trust in the Lord’s path,” I echoed Pastor Dave to my hubby sitting next to me in service. Just as I was calculating how difficult it was to put aside our pride and actually do that, Pastor Dave reminded us all that doing so – in fact – wasn’t very easy at all. He mentioned a “battleground” for our thoughts and gave a very clear illustration about why such a war exists…your thoughts, eventually, determine your choices and, therefore, your actions. He also talked about feeding your mind the truth of the Lord’s promises in scripture rather than strongholds (lies that you believe are truth but don’t know are lies). For example, the Lord – in scripture – has promised never to leave or forsake us (John 3:16). A stronghold might be that little nudge of a notion that makes you think you’ve sinned so greatly that you must have fallen out of graceful favor with the Lord…an impossibility because of Christ and his sacrifice.
Pastor Dave followed up with several practical ways (paraphrased below) to dismiss strongholds in one’s every day life as well as in one’s spiritual life:
1. “Don’t let fear run around in your head like an untrained child. Bring it to obedience.”
2. “Take your thoughts captive. Think on good things.”
3. “Keep an Eye Out for Truth: No matter how good of a leader you are, you will make poor choices if you operate off of poor information.”
4. “Spray the thistles of bad influence before they even bloom in the garden of your mind.”
5. “Don’t worry if you’re not a good gardener. God is.”
6. “Patience and attention are worth it: A well-tended garden equals good fruit and no weeds.”
Each of the aforementioned points are worth our time and meditation. Isn’t it funny how we fickle humans tend to choose to learn the hard way (making a left turn) when the pleasant way (going around the block) is so readily available to us? I, for one, enjoy that I worship a God who cares so much for my life that he carefully and thoroughly lays out such a plan for my direction, as He does for everybody’s, despite my misplaced insistence that I know better. He rescues all of us – time and time again – from everyday struggles, as well as – on the rare, odd occasion – something such as from being hung-up on a curb.
But, perhaps most importantly, he gave us the choice – and the ability – to choose to accept a rescue from a poisonous mentality. If I still chided myself for my past driving mistake, I would be living in a world of condemnation every time I turned on the engine…and more likely to be so pre-occupied with not making a mistake that I would end up actually making another mistake. So, next time I “turn on the engine of my brain,” I’m going to realize that I – a child of the one true King – walk in forgiveness, and I will not fear the future, prescribed plan…even if it takes me a little longer to get there.
Questions for Reflection:
1. In what ways is God’s direction for someone’s life like an automatically re-routing GPS?
2. For 40 years, the Israelites walked the desert after being freed from slavery in Egypt. From their perspective, it was wandering. From God’s perspective, perhaps he had a path all along for them to follow and was working with “human will” to get them to the Promised Land. Has there ever been a time in your life when, in hindsight, you could see that God had an easier path to follow for your life?
3. One of the greatest gifts God has given humans is the ability to choose their emotions. What is one area of your life in which you could turn the Enemy on his head by deciding to think positively no matter what comes your way?
4. Are you suffering from an addiction – caffeine or something else – that has taken control of your life? Are you ready to quit today? If so, please ask an elder or pastor at Capital Christian Center for more information on how to overcome your circumstances. (And yes, God loves you! He came to heal the sick, not the healthy.)
5. What is one way you can reframe your mind to face the world “head-on” instead of letting it overwhelm you?
House of Worship: Capital Christian Center – Lacey, WA