Thinking about your thoughts? Choosing to stop and rest? Evaluating your schedule and habits? Stopping to take some deep breaths?
I would say these words sound foreign or weird/new-age to some, but I feel are so important to address. First, I am so thankful for a husband that is not afraid to ask me questions, encourage me to ask myself questions, and one that cares so much about my soul. If you don’t have someone that will ask you the hard questions, challenge you to think about your thoughts, and give you honest evaluations, then find someone. Because life is much better when you’re on a journey with someone than when you are all alone.
So why am I talking about this? Because I have seen so much in myself and all around me in different countries that it is an issue. And I believe it directly impacts how we see ourselves therefore how we view God and if we are living our lives full of faith verses fear. So many people (myself included) are always TIRED. You know the question and what seems the automatic answer of “How are you?….wait for it…tired and/or busy.” There seems to never be enough hours in a day to get things done, not enough weeks or even days in a year for holidays, too many thoughts at night to sleep well, and the list goes on and on. But I want to challenge you with something my wise husband reminds me of: who is in charge of your schedule and if you think there are not enough hours in a day to check-off what you want to get done, maybe your list and expectations are not accurate and need adjusting? YOU choose your schedule, YOU control your day.
This can start with simple, small changes. Like for me, it’s choosing to not clean the house as often as I used to and instead choose to stop and read a book for 15 minutes that day or maybe while in the bus on my way to work, to not play music, not study Polish, not answer e-mails or texts, and choose to just be still to listen to God, absorb the beauty of creation around me, or just take some deep breaths! And I have learned that constantly going all the time doesn’t refuel me, but choosing to slow down, energizes me and I can do the things I want to do with more clarity, more joy, and more efficiently.
Do you think about your thoughts? I didn’t think about this so much until I read Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book The Perfect You with a friend and realized the importance of thinking about your thoughts. Yes, I have heard and read the numerous Bible verses like Romans 12:2 or Philippians 4:8 that give us the truth about the importance of our thoughts, taking our thoughts captive AKA thinking about your thoughts, and how changes and discerning God’s will starts with renewing our mind but when I started doing this, I experienced the impact it had on my identity, having faith verse fear in any situation, having joy throughout the day, and being connected to what stirs God’s heart and what the Holy Spirit is doing around me – it points me to Him and actually keeps me focused on Him and His strength, His grace, His power, His control, and His love, not on MY lists, my issues, my frustrations, my sadness, or my exhaustion.
I was reading earlier in 1 Samuel 4 how when the Israelites were defeated the first time by the Philistines, they decided to take the ark of the covenant of the Lord into the battlefield to try to defeat the Philistines, but it didn’t work. 30,000 soldiers died and the ark of God was captured by the Philistines. Why? Because they treated the ark of God as a thing, not a person. The ark of God was never about being an object, it was about the presence and power of God. Just as you and I are not meant to just be labeled as “Christians”, or people that have a bumper sticker, wear a necklace, or hang crosses in our homes (not that I’m against those or think they are bad necessarily), but it is more than that. Life is not about just dying to eventually get to heaven one day, it’s about bringing heaven to earth! And heaven is not people running around exhausted all the time 🙂 We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us; He is a person, not a thing. Cultivating a relationship with Him is so beautiful and when we INTENTIONALLY CHOOSE to press into and desire God’s Presence (meeting face to face), our days won’t be the same, our thoughts won’t be the same, our actions won’t be the same, which in turn makes the world around us not the same. When we take our thoughts captive and replace our thoughts with His thoughts, everything changes. Bill Johnson frequently says “I can’t afford to have thoughts in my head about me, that God doesn’t have in His.”
So I leave you with a challenge that I am challenging myself to as well: CHOOSE to stop for 3 minutes, talk with the Lord about what His thoughts are and see if your thoughts align with His thoughts. Fill your mind with truth from His living Word and throughout the day if you start to feel anxious, fearful, frustrated, etc., CHOOSE to immediately stop and reset.
Let’s let others see what God sees in us, them, and the world we live in.
Let’s be people that live FROM a place of rest, not living TO a place of rest.
For those who live according to the flesh set their MINDS on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their MINDS on the things of the SPIRIT. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is LIFE and PEACE.” Romans 8:5-6