Last week we talked about some innovative ways we can hear God’s Word and hide it in our hearts, but you and I both know how easy it is for our own troubled thoughts to tune out the truth.
When Troubled Thoughts Tune Out Truth
One rainy, winter day, I queued up my favorite Christian playlist on my phone and set it down on a nearby table. I was singing along (thankfully, I was alone) and dancing (again, alone) around the house as I went about my chores. Both my arms and my voice raised heavenward in praise between straightening pillows and sorting mail.
Then, the familiar ding of an incoming text message interrupted my personal praise session. I absentmindedly glanced down to see the reminder for an event later that day. One I remembered I needed to show up for with food to share. As I ran through a mental inventory of the refrigerator’s contents I glanced up at the clock calculating I had just enough time to run to the store and beat the school bus back home.
I dropped my phone in my purse and ran out the door, brainstorming along the way what I could take that would be both tasty and quick. I pulled into the parking spot, jammed my keys in my pocket, grabbed a cart, and headed for the produce section. Almost without stopping the cart, I inspected pears and apples and grabbed a healthy looking bag of mixed greens. Maneuvering around the bins, trying not to run over any other shoppers’ toes, I grabbed a block of cheese from the deli and then headed for the aisle with all the tasty vinegars. It wasn’t until then, as I stood alone perusing the options, that I heard faint music. At first, I couldn’t place it. It didn’t sound like the usual grocery store mood-music. Then the song changed and I recognized it. My playlist was still playing. From inside my purse. I never turned it off.
But in all my hurrying and scurrying I had stopped hearing it.
I had lost my focus. I had tuned out my praise and tuned in to my problem. In the time it took to read one text message I went from happy and hopeful to hurried and harried. My troubled thoughts tuned out the truth.This world is full of noisy problems, but we have a choice about what we listen to! #experiencegod #hearinggod #5senses #troubledthoughts Click To Tweet
No Shortage of Troubled Thoughts
I don’t know about you but my own thoughts are often the loudest and most prolific sounds I hear, perhaps excluding the 30 minutes or so after my boys walk in the door from school. Sure social media and the “news” can make a pretty good buzz, too. But, by in large, the soundtrack I play in my head is what I hear most of my waking hours.
And my emergency run to the grocery store that day convicted me about how easily my thoughts stray from God’s power and His promises and His praiseworthiness to my own problems. This world is certainly full of noisy problems, I won’t pretend it isn’t. From political rants and toddler tantrums to doctors’ diagnoses and marital discord. From advice on what’s best to feed baby to commentary on whether you should feed yourself like a rabbit or a caveman. Opinions abound on both sides of every issue from self-care to immigration reform, from a woman’s right to choose to the refugee crisis, from skin care to supplements, from free trade to fair trade, and from freedom of speech to freedom of religion. There is no shortage of noise in this broken and fallen world. Social media has given everybody a soapbox and we aren’t afraid to use it. It would be easy to allow the cacophony of our concerns to consume us, to turn our thoughts from the Word to the things of this world. And doesn’t Satan just love that.
But we have a choice. We get to choose the soundtrack we hear in our heads.
Choose the Right Playlist
The Apostle Paul tells us not to worry about anything. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell us to pray about those things that trouble us. Later, Peter tells us we can take our troubles to God because God cares for us. I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in knowing that God cares enough about me to hear my prayers. And maybe that’s why Paul says we ought to pray without ceasing because that’s how the peace comes in and allows us room in our minds to focus on the things worth focusing on. To listen to what’s worth listening to. And to hear what God says is worth hearing, no matter what the world shouts.
Then, Paul gives us the perfect titles for a peaceful playlist for our hearts and minds. We ought to listen to whatever is:
When we play these things on repeat in our minds they all point us back toward God, His promises, His Power, His peace, His praiseworthiness, and away from our problems. So why do I keep allowing my troubled thoughts to drown out the truth in my head?
Troubled Thoughts Divide Our Focus
Trouble, anxiety, fear, and worry come when we allow our thoughts to be divided between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of this world. Maybe it is inevitable since we have two physical feet firmly planted on this planet, but when we choose to focus our thoughts on the things of God we have the chance to bring a little heaven to earth. And as citizens of heaven sojourning through this earthly life, isn’t that what we are called to do? Make a joyful noise. Speak truth in love. Shine like lights in the darkness!
Jesus warns us not to let the distractions of this world choke out the seed of faith His Word plants in our hearts (Matthew 13:22). He tells us to choose what is better (Luke 10:38-42). When the Apostles worry about the storm Jesus questions their lack of faith and shows them who controls the wind and the waves (Mark 4:35-41). He reminds us to take heart in troubled times because He has overcome all the troubles of this world (John 16:33). Jesus passionately pleads for us to stop worrying about the things of this world and start trusting Him for eternity, seeking His kingdom first (Matthew 6:25-34).
Though what we read and hear from the world may make it seem as if few choose to focus their thoughts this way, we are not alone in this pursuit. Jesus sent us a Helper to call to mind all He had taught (John 14:26). That Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Advocate, the One who not only brings truth to mind, but also translates our prayers into petitions that God’s will would be done in all our circumstances. He both hears our hearts and speaks on God’s behalf in every situation we face.
Let Your Destiny Direct Your Thoughts
There is a quote (either attributed to Margaret Thatcher or a Chinese Proverb, I can’t be sure) that traces our thoughts to our destiny. But I’d like for us to flip that on it’s head. Today, let’s let our eternal destiny consume our thoughts. That way, what we hear in our heads will indeed be the Truth of who Christ is and how He came to conquer sin and death for all eternity.
When our thoughts are prayerfully consumed by God’s peace, power, promises, and praiseworthiness there will be little room left to ponder our problems. The problems may remain, but they won’t hold the same sway over us they once did. Perhaps they will pale in comparison to the weight of God’s eternal glory. The To-Do List may still be long, but we’ll look to Him first for the wisdom and strength to do that which has eternal value. Life will still be complicated and noisy but we will trust that God has our eternal destiny under control.
How have your troubled thoughts been hushing the Holy Spirit? Which title from Paul’s Playlist for Peace will you choose to drown out your troubled thoughts today? How will you let truth ring louder than the trial you’re facing?When our thoughts are prayerfully consumed by God’s peace, power, promises, and praiseworthiness there will be little room left to ponder our problems. #experiencegod #hearinggod #5senses #troubledthoughts Click To Tweet
More on Hearing God
If you want more on hearing, some of my friends have inspiring words to share with you!
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope