Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Eyes on Today

I have an anxious temperament by nature. It doesn’t take much to shake me to the core. My nerves are constantly rattling like maracas in a Puerto Rican band. I have asked God to give me peace and to make me steady, to increase my faith so I can be calm in the storms of life, but I continue to be this troubled soul whose sweaty palms smear the ink with which the Lord writes His story on the pages of my life.


A few days ago, I read in my devotional a thought that made me pause. The main idea was that anxiety and fear are the product of focusing on the future. I’ve meditated on this thought before…but today it hit me in a special way. As I contemplate the fragility of life, I realize how easy it is to look at the future and fret. Especially, when we are faced with sudden loss and unexpected hardship, our sense of stability is shattered and we can’t help but to panic about what is to come. Anxiety and fear run rampant in times of trial and we find it almost impossible to control our emotions…I’m speaking from personal experience, here…

How do we ever keep our eyes from going into the murky waters of the future when the present is pointing to nothing but scary turbulence and rising tides?

Well, there is no simple solution. It takes discipline. And one thing I have discovered is that the middle of a crisis is not the time to start acquiring a spiritual discipline. That is the time to apply it. What does this all mean? It means that during times of calm we need to meditate on the truth of Christ and practice taking our thoughts captive. Yes, that is the one thing that will keep us from falling into the pit of despair…holding on tightly to our thought-life so we can pull the reigns as soon as they begin to get out of control. And a crisis does not create the right circumstances to develop this ability…

Therefore, like I mentioned above, it is during those seasons of smooth sailing when we pay attention to what God is trying to teach us. And controlling our thought-life is chief among those lessons:

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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

Until we learn to gain control of our thoughts and develop strategies, guided by the Holy Spirit to fill our minds with the joy of the Lord, we will continue to struggle to weather the trials, fires and storms that we face in life. Until we learn to concentrate on God’s presence in us today, we will not win the battle against the panic-inducing, constant focusing on the future, the unknowns, and the “what ifs.”

Once we/I gain the spiritual discipline of minding our/my thoughts, we/I will finally understand that…

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5

May the Holy Spirit grow the fruit of self-control in us so we can exercise holy authority over our thought-life and concentrate on the peace like a river that flows from the heart of Christ.

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