Sandcastles - October 16, 2019
As a child, I was absolutely incapable of watching scary movies. Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and Monsters Inc. may as well have been The Grudge, Saw II, and Annabelle in my opinion. Literally, ya’ll, I was 18 before I actually could stomach watching Snow White. Something about the evil portrayed within certain movies didn’t sit well in my soul. I’d lay awake, long after everyone had gone to sleep, playing the scary scenes over and over in my head. Consumed in a cold sweat, my heart would pound and I’d imagine an evil figure sitting on the edge of my bed, watching me sleep (morbid, I know). My thoughts seemed to rule over me. Many nights, this would happen for hours on end.
The truth is, though, that I was not born having terrifying thoughts at night. I actually slept rather soundly as an infant. Being consumed with fear wasn’t my natural tendency. It wasn’t until I was exposed to the idea of evil, death, and darkness that I began to be afraid.
Sadly, this struggle with dark thoughts consuming my mind was something that I found continually repeated itself throughout my life, many times keeping me from peaceful sleep.
In Matthew 5, Jesus talks to his disciples about the importance of guarding their hearts and minds to avoid sin. He tells them; “Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Why would Jesus equate a simple look to a sin as serious as adultery? Maybe because he knew just a bit more than all of the rest of us. He did, in fact, CREATE the world. ;)
Within the brain, the portion responsible for vision is called the Occipital Lobe. In the Occipital Lobe, our brains take in information from the retinas of our eyeballs, transferring the information into our perception of the world. A look becomes a thought. The thought, then, becomes an action.
Now, let’s take a second glance at that scripture. The sin happened within the mind…never did it make its way out into the world, yet it still ruled the mind, causing a man to sin in his heart.
The look was the place where the sin took root, allowing the mind to go places that it shouldn’t have.
Just like the way the scary images I’d seen in movies would play on repeat in my mind at night, sinful thoughts can run rampant if we don’t stop them in their tracks and if we don’t carefully guard what we allow ourselves to see. Our minds are powerful things that, if not surrendered to the Holy Spirit DAILY, can run us into the ground.
This is not something that we can do all on our own, though. God created us this way; we need him. We, as mere humans, need the help of the Father.
In Romans 12, Paul tells us to not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This means taking a truth that the Lord gives us in scripture such as “But we were not given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind,” (2 Timothy 1:7) or “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139: 13-14) or “Turn all of your worries over to him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and putting it in the place of the thoughts that we want to get rid of. Making it a habit to live our thought-lives based on truth rather than the lies of the enemy.
Rather than allowing the enemy to rule our thoughts, we as Christians must stand in the victory of Christ and claim it over our struggles.
When I struggle with anxiety, I can speak out that I will “Be anxious for nothing, but that in everything, through prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God and the Peace which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4: 6-7
When I struggle with body image, I can thank God for the way he made me, claiming that “you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ps. 139: 13-14
When I struggle with lust and shame, I can claim that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
And finally, we can claim victory: “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:5
And if I still am struggling…and when I’m still struggling, I will praise him through it. Even if I never find complete healing, I can rest in the truth that he will work all things together for my good: No. Matter. What.