Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's all about focus..(and that's hard if you're ADD)

"You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to you, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You." Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified Bible)
I have no idea if any person reading this will relate to me, but I have a focus problem. I undoubtedly carry a heaping-helping of the ADD gene, but this particular focal crisis is not about my inability to light my mind in one place. It's about the determination to light my mind in the right place.
Isaiah 26:3 is a verse I turn to over and over when I need to settle my mind on Truth. And do I ever need to settle my mind on Truth. If you are like me at all, your mind can jump from worry and hyper-analysis, to fear or dissatisfaction in less than a heartbeat. When I am not actively meditating on God's word and letting Him fill my mind with Him, I'm a mess. Once I left my eyes fall from the throne of grace, it doesn't take long for me to start looking for something else to satisfy me. I memorized this verse years ago in the NIV, ("You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You,"), but today I came across the Amplified version (above). I assure you that I will be analyzing every single word and phrase in that verse during my quiet times this week. [This is totally a sidebar comment, but I love the way "stayed on You" sounds. It's one of those phrases that just melts my heart...and maybe because my heart longs so badly to be "stayed on" one thing!]
Isaiah chapter 26 is a song of trust in God's protection. It declares that absolute dependance on God is the only way to roll. Isaiah says that the perfect peace we long for comes from completely leaning on (looking at!) the Lord. This passage was part of Isaiah's prophecy that the remnant would return to their land of promise; and when they did - they would wholeheartedly testify that perfect and constant peace is only found in believing God.
So where does the focus issue come into play? Have I just gone on a tangent halfway through this post? No, I really do have a point!
The ancient Israelites had a focus problem! Tracing all the way back to Moses' era, they would no sooner experience one miraculously G0d-given deliverance after another - before they would be throwing in all the gold they had to craft the image of a cow! He gave them everything they needed, but how quickly their minds darted to the worship of something paltry in comparison!
They took their minds off of Yahweh, and turned them to what they could see. Just like me, their gaze became fixed on the tangible; they stared at the circumstances without taking into account the power of the God who Delivered. The God who Delivers. The God who will Deliver.
Those fellow humans of ours made the same mistake over and over and over...for years! Therefore I can only imagine that when Isaiah penned this particular song, he reflected on the power of focus. We know it didn't take long for them to lose sight of the One True God...and as a result, it was snap before they were whining at the consequences. But when they were returned...once they were back in the safety of God's protection, I bet they would tell you with authority that you risk your life (physically in their case; spirtually in ours) when you turn your eyes to another savior.
Given that idolatry can be described as excessive adoration, it's clear that what we focus on drives who we are (in character, in action, in daily life). When our focus is rightly fixed on the One who is worthy of our adoration and our worship, our mind is settled in peace. perfect peace. constant peace.
There used to me a radio commerical about one of those herbal supplements called Focus Factor. I never took it - even though Larry hinted that he wished I would. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have worked, but I'm challenging you to let the Word be your Focus Factor this week. If you commit to even 10 minutes every morning...simply reading one verse over and over...rolling it around...looking at it backwards and forwards....upside down/inside out, your focus will be re-leveled.
And sometimes, a little focal shift is all we need.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mental War Games

The first line in my journal today says, "God, is this what crazy feels like?"

I could be an informercial today for PMS. No doubt. Just ask Larry, or even Luke. As the saying goes, "when momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy..." They can testify to the accuracy of that statement.

This entire weekend, I have been in the midst of a mental war game so intense, so heated, that this morning I was forced to my knees in desperation of deliverance. The wonderful hormonal shifts that I am experiencing right now were no added benefit, but they weren't the root of this battle. This war's original battle took place years ago, when Satan first began to whisper deception into my welcoming ears. Although long fought and hard won, the master deceiver still gets jabs in every now and then when I'm weak and "uncovered".

We went to church last night, so this Sunday morning started later than usual. I rolled out of bed (prompted by an incessantly "ready" 5 year old boy) and desperately sought out my beloved coffee. No sooner than I sat down at the bar with my peanut butter and jelly toast, the temptations began assaulting me. As the battle heated, my mind felt like the setting for an old civil war movie. One lie, one temptation after another were thrown at me; and instead of automatically fighting back with TRUTH, I tried fighting on my own. This was not a pretty picture, because when I'm fighting on my own, I just become angry. I snap. I grown. I complain. I whine about "how it's so hard.."

My sweet husband grabbed me, hugged me with all his might, and authoratively reminded me that I needed God's word to fight this. So I stubbornly marched myself into the bedroom, pulled out my bible and sat. Angrily. After a few seconds of sulking, I flipped open the word of God and just bawled my puffy eyes out. I begged Him to just reach down and pull me out of this fight. For crying out loud, God, can't You just grab me up and pull me out of this battlefield?

In a matter of minutes, a soft wind of His faithfulness blew right across my mind. In the depths of my spirit, He gently whispered that my weapons of warfare are not fleshly weapons.

Immediately I went to 2 Corinthians 10: 4-5, "..for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations (lies!) and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..."

I began to imagine myself being assaulted by flaming blasts of untruths, Satan's way of leading me into disaster. As the fiery darts of his lies were coming at me, I realized I had a shield. The shield of faith, wherewith I have the ability to stand up and defend myself from the brutal weapons of the enemy. Instead of sitting back and allowing myself to be brainwashed, I can wield spiritual weapons that have the power to demolish fortresses of deceit.

Not only that, GOD is my Mighty Fortress of Strength. Of TRUTH. Of Victory. In the ugliest point of battle, I ran to Him. I ran to my Rock of comfort and deliverance. And now I'm sitting here telling on the enemy. Telling others how he didn't win this time. Telling others that though he can get me down to a point of "crazy", God has my back.

Take heart. Though the battle wages long and victory seems impossible, our weapons are not wimpy weapons. We can powerfully fight with the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God..the Truth), and when we fight with Truth - Satan always loses. He's a loser by his very nature, and listening to him and believing we are hopeless is a ludicrous fallacy.

Instead of moping around today and reacting to every situation with a short fuse, I am going to spend the day with my precious son and loving husband. We will certainly all rejoice at this particular win...because when momma is happy, we're all happy. When mommy stands up to the voice of the enemy and yells, "Liar!!", the whole family is refreshed by the fragrance of victory.

If you know me, you know I'm as competitive as it victory is even that much sweeter. There will undoubtedly be many more battles in this war. But I won this one...and I'll win the next one, as long as I choose to run to the only Fortress that is Jesus.

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