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 Cor. 10:5
I feel sorry for fish. Imagine it happening to you. Suddenly there’s a hook through your lip, then forced suffocation as you stare at giants sharpening blades right in front of your face. The agony.. But then again, I’ve tasted smoked salmon.
But there’s another image I left out. You’ve also seen fish when they’re thrown on deck, jerking and bouncing, helpless outside of their blue haven. And it’s here, my sympathy awakens again, but this time not for the fish. There’s something eerily similar to the out of control movement, the desperation, the panic of breath, to something else, which is even more valuable than a fish.
It’s your thought life.
You know this comparison is true. Our thoughts are not only often out of control, they are often controlling us. However hard this might sound, here are concrete steps to freedom of the mind, rather than being tossed and thrown about like a captive fish.
Surrender Your Thoughts To God
The most common fears are simply attempts to change your past and predict your future.
Future predicting: What if he does x? What if we can’t make that payment? What if she hates me? What if I never feel peaceful again? I can’t do x because y might happen.
Changing the past: If only this hadn’t happened. If he hadn’t hurt me. If I would have just done x.
Each time those thoughts float to shore, cast them out to sea once more. But how?
Surrender. Surrendering is a belief. It’s believing God can take your thoughts captive when you never could. I tell God, “Lord, I give (or surrender) this fear to you”. Surrender these thoughts as many times as needed.
But why surrender? Because the power of worrisome thoughts is just like a car on an endless loop, or a nascar race that never ends (heaven help us). Stop the momentum and you stop the cycle. But what power source keeps the momentum going? What engine drives this loop?
It’s something called certainty. Certainty drives the worrisome thoughts to the forefront, because thoughts themselves aren’t actually the cause. Certainty is the engine, and when the engine moves the thoughts of those future unknowns come into view. Certainty tries reigning in uncertain relationships, incomes, and worldly securities. Certainty often says what-if and if-only because it’s trying to predict the future or remake the past. God Himself actually has a better word than certainty. He calls it understanding.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. -Proverbs 2:6
When you surrender each uncertainty to Him, the engine of certainty is stopped. When the engine is stopped at the beginning, so is the cycle. When the engine is traded for His presence, something happens. He knows that stopping the engine of a “certain future” you’ll have the peace of not only the present moment, but the power of His presence instead.
Have you ever gazed up at the stars or out at the sea and realized how little control you wield over this world? God meant it to be that way. But when we attempt to reign in something greater than ourselves (like the future), we’re overwhelmed.
Surrendering your Idols
Like certainty, idols can be powerful engines driving anxious thoughts. In fact, protecting a certain future is often tied to protecting an idol. Do you trust and find satisfaction in something other than God? This is an idol. Sure, we’re all tempted to rely on things other than God, but you can detect an idol if your anxiety skyrockets at the threat of it being taken away and your thought life begins to thrash about like that fish on the deck. Surrendering an idol is painful, but freeing. Surrendering is trusting His way instead of your way. Surrendering is letting go of the need to be certain. Don’t resist the Lord any longer, confess your idol and give it to him.
Surrendering Your Faith in the World
Media is the new alcohol. It’s fine in small doses. Repetition is everything. Cut out the politics, the talk shows, the facebook statuses, the fantasy football, the subtle messages of instagram. You’re captive and it’s time you confessed to Christ that you are barring Him from capturing your heart. He’s throwing you a life raft in His Word every single day. Whatever’s repeated, whatever’s loudest, whatever dial is turned up the most, that is your influencer.
Start leading your heart (and family if you have one) by putting devices away at night.
Absorb it like a sponge by memorizing one verse a week, and soak it in by repeating it in your head all day. If you believe His Word instead of your worldly thoughts and the talking heads, the tides will shift and He will take the helm.
What pool do you dive into most? God’s truth? Or Google News? If you can show me how to jump into water without getting wet, I’ll believe you. If you can show me how to fill your mind with media every night without becoming captive, I’ll accept it when I see it. Become a sponge of truth, not a sponge of “lofty opinions” and zero spiritual return on investment.
The lifeline is in front of you. You have to swim towards it every chance, every tide, every break, every moment.