The power to focus is something with which the aging process surely does a dance. In the past, while listening to a televised sermon, a strange thing happened. An overlay of sound came across nearly drowning out the pastor’s voice. By some technical blooper, two events were coming across at once.
It was not easy going, but as long as I concentrated, purposely blocking out the intruding somewhat louder sound, I could clearly understand the more desirable message. After several minutes of this I became rather surprised and pleased that by tightly focusing I could block out one message in order to hear the other.
How similar this is to the “spiritual hearing” within our daily experience of following Christ. The sounds of the world come through loud and clear: alarms, distress, expectations, demands, and the many, ever-present yearnings of our varied appetites. Yet when we are prayerfully listening the message of God is alive and strong, heard deep within our hearts. This involves continually choosing what we want to hear. It takes keen development of our empowerment to focus while overriding the “never-resting” voices of our times.
It seems there are five voices we hear predominantly: 1) our own with our delights, disdains and desires, 2) the world’s, as already mentioned, 3) Satan’s (the deceiver) with his temptations, 4) the voices of those closest to us, and 5) the voice of God. Christians who seek maturity learn to recognize which is which. We can become keenly adept, as well, in examining the motives that lie beneath our choices and actions.
This is no easy task, but possible as we depend on the empowerment and grace of God along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. With Our minds focusing on Him and our ears in tune with His voice we can live in the world with peace, no matter what goes on around us, even though the world lives literally in our laps, given modern media with all its perplexities!
Staying tuned into God can best see us hearing His voice, doing His will. Sometimes that will find us sharing of our means. Other times, we will be humble while allowing others to help us. Most of us are exceedingly blessed. Any feelings of guilt for having been blessed can be dismissed, as surely God is greatly pleased when his children prosper. For the more we prosper, the more we are able to give—not only of our substance, but from the “fruit of our lips,” meaning the praise and “thanksgiving” offered up as we rejoice in the goodness of the Lord.
There are at least 150 references to “rejoicing” according to Cruden’s Concordance. Scriptural references to “praise” are even more numerous, not to mention all that is recorded about offering “thanksgiving.” We are even told to praise when things seem to be going wrong! With this in mind, let us ask ourselves how much of our mental energies are given to such efforts?
Dr. Eugene Wiesner, a Catholic psychologist from Billings, Montana, claims the key to good mental health depends on rejoicing, being thankful and full of praise. He makes an outstanding statement. Holding up his Bible, Dr. Wiesner plants a thumb on top and says, “There is more psychology under my thumb than in all the books that line the shelves of my library.” Within his teachings, this psychologist claims rejoicing in the Lord can supersede depression, especially when praises to God are sung. There is power in song!
Every tool needed for coping is generously supplied in Scripture. We have only to search them out and put them into practice.
All of us, at times, are guilty of bonding a bit with the world…even to entertain evil thoughts. (Hurtful treatment of others is undoubtedly one of the worst of all evils.) When this happens, we have fallen short and there is a tendency to slip into guilt or self-condemnation. Yet, in order to maintain a healthy mental climate, we best allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to sweep our minds continually. “Godward” glances in moments of stress, pleas for the Spirit’s guidance, and prayers of submission.
We are not going to be able to control what the days, weeks and months bring as life rolls on, but we can control our thoughts. II Corinthians 10:5, admonishes to “… demolish sophistries and every proud pretension that rises itself against the knowledge of God…bring every thought into captivity to make it obedient to Christ.”
For me, one of the greatest challenges in life is to become more discerning and more God–empowered within my thought processes. For as the saying goes, we aren’t what we think we are, but we are what we think.”