Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Three Cages . . .
Hello! It has been a crazy couple of weeks. With the help of some friends we have spent countless hours working to make part of our garage a "classroom" where we can homeschool Bethany. We really felt God telling us that we needed this outside the home place to go to for "school" time. We have been working long hours, and setting aside a lot of the other parts of daily life to finish it so we can move on and begin researching curriculum, requirements, etc. We are really excited by the way the room is looking, and blessed by the help, but on the other side of it we are really tired and a lot of the "small" things we let go are starting to seem "big" to us (tiredness seems to magnify stuff, doesn't it!).
I write the above paragraph as the context to the following thought, not for sympathy or anything else. As we grew tired, watched money go out quickly, and felt the weight of all the other things that make up normal life and ministry grow, we have started to feel more susceptible to attacks, feelings of being overwhelmed, thoughts that we shouldn't entertain about ourselves (because God doesn't entertain them about us), etc. Discouragement, depression, doubt, fear, etc. are all willing partners that love to latch on for the ride when we (as Christians in general) start to open the doors and allow them.
The Bible says to take thoughts captive. I have found that this is the most powerful tool I have to combat the runaway thoughts, fears, and feelings that want to take over my heart and my walk and to steal my joy and my expectancy of God's hand in my life. Like I told the church one time, Christians have, on one hand, these thoughts that come in to our mind. On the other hand, we have God and what He offers. But, until we take those thoughts captive to what God says or offers, the thoughts run rampant. It is like having a roaming lion, and an awesome cage. The cage does no good until we put the lion in it. Then, the lion is captive in the cage.
I have found that there are three "cages" which I try and take my thoughts to to take them captive. Sometimes all three work, sometimes just one, but usually, if not always, at least one will work if I choose to let it. These three cages are:
Cage 1: God's Word or Promises—what does God have to say for me in the form of a Bible story or a promise that has bearing on this situation or thought? Often it is simply the promise that He will never leave me or forsake me. Often it is the promise that He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in me. Other times it is often the promise that greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. Other times it is a different promise, or story, that I realize can be applied to what I am experiencing or feeling.
Cage 2: God's Character—is this thought, fear, etc. consistent with what I know about God's character? I especially look at Jesus' life and ministry and heart because He is the express image of the Father and represents the exact nature of the Father. So, I look to Him to see if what I am afraid of, etc., is consistent with who He has shown the Father to be.
Cage 3: Testimony—have I seen God act in the past in my life (or other's lives) in ways that would apply here? For example, in a fear of finances, I can look back and see that God has never let us down and take that fear captive to that testimony. Christian biography/autobiography is a wonderful place to build the testimony of God in your mind, as is keeping a record of the praises of God's hand in your life that you go back and periodically review. We have a "Praise Jar" where we record praises throughout the year and then open and read them on Thanksgiving.
So, for me, these are the three "cages" I most often use. But, here's the rub (as a Shakespeare character once said). Just like the lion cage does no good until the lion is put in it, these things do no good until we take our thoughts, fears, lack of expectancy, etc. to them and put them in them and take them captive to them. All the truth in the world does us no good until we choose to make it our highest truth. Otherwise we are captives, ourself, to a lie. But, as we all know all too well, taking thoughts captive is not always the easiest thing.
God bless all of you.