Thursday, April 18, 2013

Focusing on Jesus in the Midst of Difficulties

How do we keep our minds on Christ in the midst of difficulties? For anxiety-prone people like me, the answer to this question is extremely important. John Ortberg talked about this in If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. He reaffirmed what I’d learned from one of Beth Moore's studies: whatever we focus our minds on, whatever we meditate on continually, determines the way we think. I love this excerpt from Ortberg’s book: “Psychologist Archibald Hart writes, ‘Research has shown that one's thought life influences every aspect of one's being.’ Whether we are filled with confidence or fear depends on the kind of thoughts that habitually occupy our minds. The way you think creates your attitudes; the way you think shapes your emotions; the way you think governs your behavior; the way you think deeply influences your immune system and vulnerability to illness. Everything about you flows out of the way you think. I believe this is one of those cases where we are simply coming to confirm what the writers of Scriptures knew quite clearly all along. Paul said, 'Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.'
The law of exposure is as inviolable as the law of gravity. No one is surprised by the law of gravity. No one says, 'Hey, I dropped this priceless antique crystal vase on cement and it broke. What are the odds of that?' But amazingly enough, people react to the law of exposure in total shock. People are surprised that what their minds are constantly exposed to, attend to, and dwell on eventually comes out in how they feel and what they do.

The events you attend, the material you read (or don't), the music you hear, the images you watch, the conversations you hold, the daydreams you entertain-all are shaping your mind and, ultimately, your character and destiny. This is supremely true when it comes to hope.
Is. 26:3 says, 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.' It all depends on where your mind stays. The good news is that you can put these laws to work for you. If you really want to become a certain kind of person--a hopeful person focused on Christ--you must begin to think thoughts that will produce those characteristics. So we understand why Paul said, 'Think about these things.' When you focus on Christ, these are the kinds of thoughts he will inspire you to think. Therefore you must put your mind in a place that will lead you to think hope-producing thoughts. You need to expose your mind to those resources, books, tapes, people, and conversations that will incline you toward confidence in God. Your mind will think most about what it is most exposed to.”

So true!  When I begin the day by praying to God and then reading His Word, and when I sit in silence and listen with my heart to what He’s saying to me, or while I’m engaged in memorizing a few verses, or singing praises to Him, or meditating on a psalm, there is a marked difference in the peace and joy that I have and in my awareness of God's faithfulness and love for me. My blood pressure goes down, and so does my heart rate. My thoughts are pleasant and faith-filled. I feel the peace of God and His Presence. John Ortberg has much more to say about feeding your mind and soul in his book.  



stephanie said...

Hi Joni,

Thanks for this post. It's so true. I'm having such difficulty controlling my thoughts and focusing on good things but your post just reminded me to keep pressing forward and to really take captive all the negative and fearful thoughts going through my mind. Thanks for your post. Your blog is always encouraging to me.

Joni said...

Praying God's Word will renew your mind and the Holy Spirit will remind you of verses that will strengthen you. God is for you and is with you always. :)