Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Training for our minds!

In a sermon once, I heard about a study where they put mice in a tank with water. For the first group, most of the mice showed signs of giving up after treading water for seven hours. But for the second group, the scientists took the mice out and gave them a break around 5 or 6 hours. That group—those mice—swam three times longer.

Why? Because they found hope. A glimmer of light. A breath of fresh air. A brief moment of freedom. And it was enough to push them forward.

Our mind is a powerful thing. I was thinking about this yesterday when I kinda felt like dying during my first experience with a core and strengthening yoga-ish class. If I listened to the music or thought about something else, the 60 seconds of [insert painful move here] didn't seem so bad. But if, at the 30 second mark, I heard the instructor say, "halfway done!", and I started counting 30 seconds in my head—each second seemed more difficult than the one before. 

I wasn't treading water in the core and strengthening class, and it wasn't for 6 or 7 hours, but it felt a little like that. As sharp pains are pulsating through my thighs, and my abs feel like they are about to explode out of my stomach, and I'm aching in places I didn't know I could ache. And if I could just. not. think about it, I could survive. But when I really thought about it... well, I felt like giving up. Sometimes that's what waiting fells like. Mind over matter: it's not just a thing people say; it's so very true.  

In that process, though, the Lord really spoke to my heart. When we fixate on the pain in our lives, it only feels more painful. Dwelling on negative feelings—especially in our mind—is a dangerous indulgence. This is why we’re told to renew our minds daily (Romans 12:2) and to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

Why? Because Jesus is our hope—and hope is more powerful than anything.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthian 10:3-6 that this battle we war is not in the flesh. So where is the battle? It’s in our mind.

He has already previously told us in 1 Corinthians 2 that we have the mind of Christ, through His spirit, which is given to us. For that reason, Paul can later say we have the weapons we need to put down strongholds, cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God—bringing every. thought. captive.

This is no easy thing. It requires practice. And discipline.My mind is highly, highly analytical and logical. Although I know that comes in handy for solving problems or being a scholar, sometimes I wish it weren’t so. I wish I could be carefree and laid back and just ignore the uncertainty or not allow myself to think about the unknown; that, instead, it would just literally “not cross my mind.”

But, for me, that isn’t the case. It’s a matter of my mind, my will, my emotions—each has to be surrendered daily, hourly, every second if I’m going to fixate on Jesus instead.

On my mirror, I have God’s 10 promises to me. And I read them daily, even when my mind, my will, and my emotions say otherwise.

That’s our battle. Maybe it’s cliché, and certainly I agree and know from experience that it’s easier said than done. James 3 talks about the power of the tongue—but I think the mind is doubly so, for it controls both what we speak and what we think: the thoughts we dwell on, our anxiety and worry, our fear and insecurity. It all starts in the mind.

Practice today fixing your eyes on Jesus—our savior, our healer, our defender—our hope. Your circumstance may not change. Your pain may still be there. But when we change our perspective to His, it changes everything.