Our mind can cause us to feel like we are being pulled under, as though being caught in an undertow current of waves breaking toward shore while pulling us out to sea.
Taking control of our thinking. Practicing peace of mind which is available, and is evident for discovery in an otherwise dark world. That is the Apostle Paul’s heart of emphasis to us in Philippians 4:8-9.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)
Whatever is true
Whatever is honorable
Whatever is just
Whatever is pure
Whatever is lovely
Whatever is commendable
Anything of excellence
Anything worthy of praise
Think about these things.
The Apostle Paul isn’t saying ‘anything’ and ‘if’ as though they may not exist; he is saying that they do exist and are discoverable. It is human nature, our nature, to ‘be prepared’ and be alert for any danger that may be of threat to life and limb.
However, when there is none, we tend to downgrade ‘danger’ to lower threats. Even to the least threat of anybody threatening to not agree with what we consider a “threat.”
Ba-boom. “Danger. Danger. Lookout. Danger is lurking everywhere.” Not so.
The danger is often in the images of our thinking and our thought processing plus the focus of our mind. A rigidly formed attitude of mind and habit of thinking can develop without our even realizing. Such thinking can become ‘automatic thinking,’ steering and veering us over a cliff into a freefall of darkness of perceptions.
Paul is warning us against letting such occurrence happen to us. Remember, he is originally addressing a first-century church that was very often facing real physical dangers from persecutions. Thus, he was bringing their attention, and ours now, back from the brink and pointing out that there is much goodness in which to pay attention. Stop and notice. Good things are all around. SEE them. Good people. NOTICE them. Acknowledge them. Pay tribute to the goodness the good Lord provides for us.
I remember back in the early ’70s when there were still state-run mental institutions. I volunteered my services at one that happened to be not far. (The field of Psychology was my burgeoning career goal at the time and engorged with many studies.) I learned It came into existence in 1885. Being state of the art when built, it was of Gothic architecture. The complete structure was a sprawling series of multi-storied, connected structures; right out of a Hollywood scene writer’s imagination for a plot of murder and mayhem. The only experience I had up to that time for working with those distressed by such affliction was only from Hollywood. I was intimidated. I was scared. I was imaginative in a most human way.
But facing my fears, I locked my imagination in a closet. And I was happy I did. I learned so very much about people and fears, including my own. And I made many friends who only wanted an ear to listen; to hear their stories. I had many enjoyable conversations – so long as they could remain in the confines of reality. When they couldn’t, I listened to them describe the other realm they moved in and out. But the real point is the memory I have of that time being on the list of the better memories I have, along with the people I met there. People are people.
So be kind to your neighbor. The Lord said He thinks it’s a good idea. I have learned that’s a good place to refocus the mind on the goodness of God. And forgiveness is a major part of that goodness. Let us not forget to praise our Savior for all His goodness in remembering every detail for our care and need.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5