Here's a Thought
-- written by James Johnson on January 17, 2000, and presented at IVCSU at Shenandoah University on January 18, 2000.
My mind is both a gift and a thorn. When I walk by the flesh, it is a thorn. When I walk by the Spirit of God, it is a gift. I have sometimes asked God to deliver me from my over-analysis of the past and my worry about the future.
How many of you can identify with that?
I am speaking tonight about a struggle not that I have conquered, but that I am currently in.
Where is the peace?
I am thinking too much! God, I can't take the pulsating pendulum of my psyche! Take it away from me.
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was give me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, I am strong." -- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NIV.
This applies to more than just the mind, but hear the words of encouragement for the one who thinks too much. The thorn was "in my flesh . . . to torment me" and though I have pleaded, the Lord reminds me that His "grace is sufficient," that His "power is made perfect" in the weakness of my mind. Thus, I can boast in Christ's power and that is why I can take delight in my weaknesses, because I must rely on Christ. That is why I can take delight in hardship, because I must rely on Christ. That is why I can delight in difficulties, because I must rely on Christ.
Now, is it that we think too much, or is the problem really that we think too much on the wrong things?
God does not want us to stop thinking, but to do the right type of thinking.
"For with much wisdom comes much
the more knowledge, the more
-- Ecclesiastes 1:18, NIV.
NIV footnote: "Humanistic wisdom -- wisdom without God -- leads to grief and sorrow."
So, with some types of thinking, there is pain.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- THINK about such things."
-- Philippians 4:8, NIV (emphasis mine).
Margaret Becker sings, "Keep my mind on higher things . . ." That, is, think on the things of God and focus on Christ. This type of thinking brings peace.
Why do we think too much on the wrong things?
What do you think?
I can think of three of many reasons.
Comfort -- yet we create anxiety and discomfort
Control -- yet we lose control
Simply a lack of faith -- trying to do things our way in our own effort and understanding.
What does it cost to think too much?
Any ideas of the costs?
Stress, anxiety, rigidity, lack of peace, turmoil
What do we think too much about?
I will keep the answer simple. I would say in general, we think too much about the past, the present, and the future.
Philippians 3:13-14: "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (NIV).
"Forgetting what is behind" from Philippians.
The past is done. It cannot be undone. Certainly there are influences and impacts, but they manifest themselves in your life NOW!
Matthew 6: 25-34 -- READ. Emphasize vs. 33-34: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Philippians says to "press on."
Matthew says to "seek first his kingdom."
Highlights from 2 1/2 months of my journal -- struggle, costs, and resolution
When the Logical and Analytical Mind Must Learn . . . (December 2, 1999)
"I note some conflicts in myself -- my logical, over-analyzing mind tries to conquer, control, and structure . . . my logical mind has had the center of the self-sufficient stage. Yet, that is the past and the past is behind me. My mind, however, has tried to implement these very forces even now -- being center stage and erecting walls. . . . I am beginning to realize how ridiculous my mind is being in trying to control or set parameters . . . My mind admits its own folly to itself. . . . My mind does not want to share and tries to analyze everything! . . . . My mind's defenses only serve to backfire . . ."
The Battles for the Mind (January 10-12, 2000)
"The mind can battle and resist to the point of pride, but is not the Holy Spirit greater? Isn't it He who gives peace? It may be painful now feeling the war inside as flesh resists the changes God is working, but BELIEVE in the ONE who renews by the transforming of the mind and grants the peace that passes all understanding. The mind may intellectualize, but Christ must make it real for us. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law: but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! . . . (Romans 7:21-25, NIV). Go forth in His grace -- FREE! . . ."
"His Grace is sufficient. Be anxious for nothing."
"A man of anxiety am I. In my insecurity, I try to figure my way, control with my thoughts, understand and order all things. I try to be God. I complicate life. I retrieve burdens I have surrendered once to Him and now I must surrender them again. I can't think my way into doing it. My insecurity is a lack of faith -- a looking at past and present circumstances and doubting God's Ability to see it through according to His will. My folly is a testimony against itself. When I place faith in my mind and my own effort, I miserably fall into my anxious way. When I am unsure, He is certain. When I feel anxious, He gives peace. When I am faithless, He is faithful. Why can't I trust that? Why can't I trust Him? Some steel traps hold too tightly and must be loosened. Do I honestly believe that by resisting His work in me that I will be more comfortable? Again, my anxious spirit testifies against itself: Resisting God for the sake of my own way or comfort only serves to prove my anxious and worrisome ways when I do not focus on Christ. Do I flounder on the external -- my circumstances? OR Do I rest on the internal -- His Holy Spirit dwelling within me? I am familiar with these feelings and I actually try to think about what I did before. What I did? Why can't I trust what He did, what He is doing, and what He will do? Is NOT His will ideal? Is NOT your best interest in His eye? Does NOT He know better what you need more so than you know? He provided a WAY when otherwise our only option was Hell! Be still! Know that He is God! Stop crouching in the corner hiding! He reaches His hand towards you. You cling to the wall to find comfort, but it is your misery. Let go! Take His hand! Believe that He can deliver you from bondage. I just believe. I just believe it! No logic, no analysis, just simple faith! The most simplistic idea undermines the complexity of thought. Is NOT the ONE who conquered death and hell able to subdue your mind?"
Do you hear the struggle?
Do you hear the costs?
Do you hear the call for faith?
WHO ENABLES US TO THINK IN A WAY THAT BRINGS PEACE?
WHO ENABLES US TO HAVE FAITH?
We cannot think our way into peace or into faith. God must do it! Sometimes, He must break us to do it.
IT GETS TO A POINT WHERE THINKING IS FUTILE AND PONDERING STOPS AND ALL YOU CAN DO IS SIT STILL AND BELIEVE.