I have been troubled lately. Not necessarily about things going on in my immediate surroundings, but about what’s been going on in the world. Everything from the happenings in Iraq, to Syria, to riots (whether peaceful or not), to people making a debate out of Robin Williams’ death (please just let him rest in peace and let that poor family grieve- regardless of anyone’s opinion it is still a life lost, and that is sad enough) and even a hoax about a real-life Purge (like in the movie of the same name, in which one time a year for 12 hours, people are allowed to commit any crime with no consequences… yeah, I never saw it either) that was supposed to happen in Louisville Friday night seem to plague me. I think that I am far from a gloom-and-doom person and have always done my best to have that glass-half-full attitude, but sometimes this world presses in and it feels like it’s getting darker and darker.
This morning I woke up and could not shake the feeling. I did what I do every morning… I rolled over, checked the time on my iPhone, and then checked my Facebook, my email, and my Instagram feeds. I clicked on a few articles about things going on in the world, not knowing ahead of time even if it was a valuable news source. I read some comments of statuses about some of these things, getting sucked into the comments surrounding each one. My load was even heavier, the cloud around me more stifling, and I put my feet on the floor and moseyed out to get some much needed coffee. The kids watched a cartoon and played with toys while I cleaned the house, which led me to a bill that I did not realize we had ever received in the mail (and therefore had not budgeted for) and then that oppressive cloud began to seep into my immediate situation. It wasn’t just the world anymore, it was everything.
I am not sure if others operate this way, but my self-discipline with just about anything ebbs and flows. I’m either working out all the time or not at all. I’m either shoveling every sugar-laden food into my mouth or have the world’s healthiest diet. And with my spiritual life, I’m either up every morning filling myself up with God’s word over a cup of coffee, or I am avoiding Him altogether, except to maybe mumble a prayer as I drift off to sleep.
This morning as I continued to put some things away, my books fell over right at my Jesus Calling devotional (by Sarah Young… it you don’t have it, GET IT) and my heart flipped over. Maybe it sounds silly to you, but I felt like God just gave a gentle nudge, reminding me to stop filling my head with the nonsensical opinions of others, and start refilling my heart with his everlasting promises. I went to find today’s date and the book opened right to it as it had been bookmarked by a five-dollar bill from Guatemala. Trust me when I say that I have absolutely no clue why or how that got there, or where it even came from, but again, God whispered, stop worrying about your finances… put your faith in me and I will take care of you. I always do. And then the title of today’s reading, Focusing Your Thoughts, pierced me to the core.
What have I been focusing my thoughts on lately? What have my priorities been? Whose opinions and comments have I been reading? Have they been His? Have they been any of the thoughts and opinions of His followers? It’s no wonder I found myself in this dark place… I had cut off my supply of living water and replaced it with mud. Dark, murky, thick mud that sucks you down deeper and even has the capability of pulling your shoes off.
Today if you find yourself drowning in the muddy waters around you, I want to encourage you to do as I am trying to do and review some of your habits, and take a look at what you’re putting into yourself. If your immediate tendency is to check your phone and click on every single controversial article, set some boundaries, only allowing yourself to get your news from a trusted source. Stay away from comments and formulate your own opinion about the issue without reading the array of all the others. Know what else I found while cleaning? An old-school alarm clock. If I am not self-disciplined to only check the time on my phone and use it as a clock, I am going to remove it from my bedside all together… and perhaps replace it with my daily devotional book, so that His truth can be the first thing I read each morning. Mornings can be crazy, but in the same amount of time I used to take to scroll through Facebook, I can surely open a book and get some much-needed encouragement to start my day. And when God gives you a little nudge, be thankful that He cares about us enough to remind us that no matter what is happening all around us, His love will always prevail.
Here are the verses that were included with today’s devotional… may they be a reminder to you that His truth is constant in our ever-changing world:
Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about thigs that are excellent and worthy of praise.
…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will sour on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
And then one of my personal favorites:
…When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Focus your thoughts today on He who is good, purify your water, and then go shine your light and spread some love to make this world a brighter place.