I know what it’s like to dwell on the negative. In fact, I believe I have spent far too many minutes of 2017 dwelling on items that seem to be going poorly or the ones that feel impossible to change. These thoughts capture you too, don’t they?
They seem to take us prisoner and hold us captive in a dovetail of hopelessness and despair.
And that dovetail sends us further down a tunnel of “if onlys…”
If only my mom weren’t sick….
If only my husband would have done this thing for me…
If only I could get that one break in my job…
And we play the game until we’ve locked ourselves away in a prison cell, unable to find hope, when truth be told, hope is lingering all around us. Hope dwells inside of us. Sitting in our guts and our bones and our muscles, pulsing and desperately trying to win over our minds.
And our minds might just be harder to win over than a MMA fighter.
You and I could know every ounce of scripture and we could know the books of the Bible in and out and over and above. We could sing the songs on the top of our lungs and dance in our kitchens for Jesus. But unless our minds are fixated on God and the eternal perspective He gives us, we spin. Maybe that’s why God tells us to renew our minds constantly.
But how do we do this when we are mere humans?
First off, we do it imperfectly. Secondly, we begin to take control of our minds. There is much we can’t control, but we can control what sits inside our brains.
For example, I have absolutely no control over what the news will say tonight.
I have no way to control whether or not my child will know and love Jesus.
I can’t force a co-worker to be a certain way. DNA is DNA.
If we want to fight for hope it starts with asking Jesus to captivate our minds. Practically speaking this means, when we start spiraling into negative territory, we capture that thought and begin to think on what we can do to create opportunity in that space once again.
You and I are responsible for stirring up hope because hope dwells within us.
You and I are response-able; response-able to bring hope back into a hopeless situation.
My husband is getting his doctorate and currently finished reading “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Outside of the Bible, he claims it’s the most influential book he has ever read. Much of this best-selling book is about how we control our minds by visualizing what we want our lives to look like and taking steps toward that life.
Sounds like Stephen Covey has been reading the Bible. Paul tells us in Colossians how to live and much of it begins with our minds. He says,
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:1-2 MSG
You and I can only do this when we control our minds and fix them on Christ. And we do this by creating change within ourselves and our spheres of influence (not by focusing on what we can’t change). In fact, this is exactly how Jesus left the world – with us as the influencers through the work of the Holy Spirit. But, nothing will happen if you and I stay on a trajectory of “if only” statements. Those lead to blame and the blame game is actually contagious.
When we begin to focus on controlling our minds and rewiring our brains to think about what we can influence, we will become much more effective – and much more hopeful.
What “if only” game are you playing? Have you been playing one all year?
God calls us to control our minds and modern leadership follows suit. This kind of living stirs up hope. What “if only” game do you need to lay aside to enter 2018 effectively? Let us know so we can begin cheering you on!