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N: A meditation on the power of the mind

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13 September 2010 by romanin

In Paul’s epistles, he talks of training one’s mind as an athlete trains his body.  How does one train one’s mind?

(Hebrews 5:11-14)  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

(Timothy 3:16-17)  All Scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of god may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul also comments in Timothy that he is forgetting what is behind and pressing forward toward what is ahead.  How do we reach such a point?  What implications does this kind of “training” have on us and our excuses?

I listened to a “Radio Lab” broadcast about self-deception and forgetting.  What sturck me was that people were most happy and successful when they “lied” to themselves and/or forgot about negative things in the past.  This really came to fruition in my mind when I was talking to Lydia about the baby.  She was talking about it and said, “Most women when they get pregnant expect that a healthy baby will come out, but it is not necessarily true.”  The tone of the statement suggested that such an unfounded assumption should not be made.  I suspect that it should not be made lightly, but I began to question even that.  You see, because of our experience with Jedediah, Lydia was worried and stressed about almost everything she feels and everything doctors tell her.  She didn’t have the joy she had during our first pregnancy.  This stresses me out too!  So I got to thinking; what harm is there in being naive, and what harm is there in being worried?  My conclusion was that I’d rather grieve when necessary and let it hit me by surprise than to allow worry and stress to overcome me for nine months.

How does this work?  I have to choose to free myself from worry; I have to train my mind.  I must choose to “forget” about what might happen and “lie” to myself by telling my self it will be OK, even if I don’t know.  this is not to say I should forget about our first child.  But perhaps if one is living a christian life filled with the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit, this “lie” isn’t a lie at all.

I remember listening to the Screwtape Letters by Lewis.  Lewis says that the point at which a man’s life touches eternity is not in the past or the future, but in the immediate now.  Worry comes from the unnatural dwelling on things yet to be, and regret comes from an unnatural dwelling on the things that cannot change.  Real choice, real progress, comes from living in the present and knowing that Christ is in control.  Everything that has happened has happened under Christ’s authority, and therefore is taken care of.  Everything that will happen is in Christ’s hands, and the Bible tells us that all things unfold to the good of those that love the Lord.  That means that everything will be OK.  But we have to trust God, even in the midst of this crooked world.  Instead of dwelling on what is wrong, God teaches us in the story of David and Goliath to dwell on the bigness and ableness of God, forgetting the negative things, and remembering what God has done in the past.  This frees us from the past and the future to find contentment and joy and fulfillment in what God has called us to NOW.

One of the things that was pointed out on “Radio Lab” was that successful athletes would begin a match by convincing themselves that they are invincible, and the best, the fastest, so on and so forth.  They trained their minds to think like winners.  In live, we must train our minds to trust God.  Naturally, our selfish, scared, prideful, arrogant, foolish selves want to trust ourselves and our own plans and experiences.  God is bigger.  Abraham and Sarah didn’t trust God about their child until their child was born.

One negative thought can snowball into depression.  The mind is powerful and is a playground for Satan.  We must train it to hold fast to the promises of God and the blessings he has given us, and the hope of the resurrection.

So after having thought all this through and talked with Lydia about this, we came to the conclusion that we can trust the Lord for our baby.  We must remember what the Lord has done, rejoice in his name, and train our minds for Godliness.  Worrying is not of the Lord; we mustn’t be anxious, but instead remember God’s ableness and bigness in the NOW.  In that, we can find joy and peace!

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