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Topic: Peace (03/15/04)
TITLE: Cultivating Quiet Seas
By Tony Washington
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The same principle holds true for our minds. When our minds are peaceful and undisturbed we are able to make the greatest progress in life. We can see clearly and easily recognize the right path to take. Have you ever looked into a swimming pool when the water is placid? You can see right to the bottom with very little effort. But, once someone comes along and agitates the water it becomes very difficult to see whatís underneath.
It makes sense then to assume that our mission is rid our minds of the disturbances. This process which may appear complicated and overwhelming is actually quite manageable. God has lovingly designed our minds to only think one thought at a time (barring hallucinogenic drug use or psychosis). With that in mind, we simply need to pay attention to exactly what thought or thoughts are causing the discomfort. Once we are aware of the harassing thought we can take mental steps to eliminate it from our minds. Notice that I did not say ignore it. Ignoring disturbing thoughts leads to anxiety. Anxiety appears to be that generalized feeling of fear that seemingly has no origin. However, our job is to rid our minds of the troubling thoughts before they escape into the abyss and produce anxiousness. So then, how does one eliminate the disturbance? The negatives are removed one by one as they appear. At first they may seem too large in number to address. I think of this like an army. Once an army gains the advantage more and more troops are brought in until the enemy is overwhelmed. However, in our case we repel the would be attackers (negative thoughts) one by one until they are gone.
True peace of mind will never be manifested until we have done the mental work necessary to bring the victory. After the fighting has stopped the soldiers are at peace. We then must literally win the fight or competition that is going on between our ears. No-one has ever won a fight by ignoring the antagonist. The antagonist must be confronted and defeated before the rest can come.
And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valor; and there escaped not a man. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years. Judges 3:29-30
You will note that the rest came following a fight. Thankfully we donít have to kill ten thousand men before our peace can come. Although war still exists, our struggle exists primarily in our minds. Perhaps we must kill ten thousand thoughts, especially if those thoughts cause us pain. It has been estimated by some that we think between six thousand and eight thousand thoughts per day. Imagine if just two thousand of them were based on doubts, worries and fears. That would be a fairly formidable force wouldnít it? And negatives like mosquitoes seem to multiply very quickly. Thus it behooves us to immediately confront the wrong thought as soon as it appears.
I have heard fear defined as (F) False (E) Evidence (A) Appearing (R) Real. Thereís enough to deal with in life without adding the multiplicity of fears that surround us. Fear is our greatest enemy. Fear has the capacity to rack and ruin a personís life. This is true because what we fear the most we actually draw to ourselves. Have you ever heard of the story of Job in the Bible? It has been erroneously said that Job suffered such great loss in his life because God was somehow playing with his life and testing him. Greater insight will reveal that this is simply not true. Note these wonderful clarifying verses of scripture from the book of Job.
Job 3:25-26: For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
Could it be any clearer than that? That which Job feared the most, which means thought about the most, considered the most and held on to the most, is what came upon him in his life. At one time in his life he enjoyed great peace of mind, great rest. He was the most respected and wealthy man in the world at the time. He loved God with all of his heart and soul and everyone who knew Job knew that about him. So what happened to Job? It all started with a thought. One solitary, fearful thought led to his downfall. Job had everything a man could ask for. He had a wonderful loving wife, an abundant family, and great wealth and prosperity. God had blessed him with all of these things. Yet in a typically human way he began to wonder if it was too good to be true. He had the thought that perhaps his children werenít loving God like he had taught them to do. It all started with a doubt. The record goes on to say that he started getting up earlier for the express purpose of offering sacrifices to God for his children. Sounds noble right? Yet the key point to observe here is that the action he took, was done out of fear. Job hadnít properly handled the fearful thoughts that confronted his mind. Instead he sidestepped the issue and chose to handle it another way, a fearful way. Poor Job did this faithfully day after day. And, as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, he reaped the results of his fearful thinking. I would be remiss if I didnít say that Job recovered somehow from his calamity. He fought back, one thought at a time, until he was back on top. But, all of his pain and suffering (which was very deep) began with a single, solitary fiery thought that he failed to eliminate from his mind.
Thus the lesson for us is clear. Take the time to handle the negatives that assault your mind. Kill one then kill another. Dismantle that ominous wall of doubt, worry and fear brick by brick until itís gone. Instead of running from the thoughts that scare you, decide to take them on. Instead of numbing yourself with drugs and alcohol, decide to take a stand for yourself. You deserve peace of mind. You deserve to experience the beauty that life has to offer once the agitations are gone.
Okay, so now you have decided to confront the negative thoughts that attack your mind. How exactly are you going to get the job done? It is easy to say ďIím not going to be afraidĒ but in reality it is a little more difficult than that. Fear, like an annoying fly, doesnít get the message very quickly. Instead you have to swat at it over and over again until itís dead. If you allow the fly to go into another room, it will be back later to annoy you all over again. However, once you kill it, itís gone until the next fly comes along. So, how do you kill the flies, or I should say wasps, that come to sting your mind? You kill them with the truth that has the power to nullify their stinging power. A wasp without a stinger becomes nothing more than an annoyance. But, I must caution you here, only the undiluted truth has the power to get the job done. Positive thoughts are wonderful, but positive thoughts based on the truth are the best. For example, if my mind is assaulted with thoughts of sickness and disease, a very real possibility in our day and time, then I must combat those troublesome ideas with thoughts of truth.
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul (thoughts, emotions) prospereth. III John 2
Then, like we discussed earlier, through sheer logic of mind I can draw a reasonable conclusion that if it is Godís desire that above everything else He desires that I prosper and be heathly, then He (God) must have the power and ability to keep me healthy. If it is Godís job to keep me healthy and, due to my own imperfection, heal me if Iím not healthy, then what is there to be afraid of? Logically then, I can eliminate that fearful thought from my mind and greatly enhance my chances of living above sickness and disease. However, because I am human and at times fall short of Godís will for my life, I may still get sick. In some cases genetic weakness may be the cause of my sickness. Either way, with proper thinking and fearless believing, I can overcome any obstacle that confronts my life. Notice I said, ďI can.Ē I may not, as in the early phases of Jobís captivity, but in the end ďI canĒ, as in the latter stages of Jobís deliverance. This is not fanciful thinking, this is the truth! The true measure of whether or not you have been successful in eliminating thoughts of doubt, worry and fear will be found via the peace of mind that you are enjoying. If you are at peace, undisturbed and relaxed, you have done what is necessary to win. If you are troubled, unquiet and bothered by something, roll up your mental sleeves, thereís more work to do.
The promised quiet seas of our minds are one of the sweetest rewards for making the effort to control our thinking. Of all the things desired by people in life, peace of mind ranks right near the top. It is worth the effort to control our thinking.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me. Psalms 55:18 (NIV)