Two simple words. Yet all too the often these words fail to connect with humanity. All too often hate and sorrow are life’s constant companion. All too often if joy is captured at all it is but a brief glimpse, a blink of the eye…and then it’s gone.
How can we capture and experience true joy and hope? How can life become so much more potent and alive? It begins with a climb up a sheer rock face. Not a real climb mind you, but a journey within one’s thoughts and attitudes. This climb takes us from where we are to a place above in which we train our minds and prepare our thoughts. Where we change the thought patterns within our lives and attempt to see life around us as we have never seen it before.
This isn’t some new age philosophy here either. We aren’t attempting to reach within ourselves, and recognizing our bad habits within our own thoughts. We face the blatant behaviors and poor choices. We confront the darkness that resides within our minds. This is the place where hatred, selfishness, sadness, and greed reside. Our minds truly are a battle field. We wage a war that is mostly unseen. It may sound mystical but in reality where do our actions come from? -Our thoughts. Where do those choices come from which hurt others, hurt ourselves and lead us into deeper alleys of sadness? -Our thoughts.
What would happen, if we could change this pattern of thinking? What would happen if we could redirect our thinking and what we think on? What would happen is that we could begin to experience joy and hope not just in mere fragments but in every instance.
So how do we do this? How do we capture our thoughts and conquer these dark patterns?
1. Seek Guidance:
Understand that we have been created by God and that His fellowship with us can and will change and transform us. This isn’t some sort of dogma we chant or words we use to line up the masses all straight and uniform in organized religion either. This is a very personal and intimate relationship that God desires from each of us. When He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins He made a way for that relationship to be restored once and for all. So when we confess our dark patterns to Him and accept His Son, Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives we are accepting a better path.
This relationship offers guidance to a better way of living too. Do you know that followers of Jesus were once called ‘followers of The Way’? This is truth for us today. Because Jesus offers us a better way to live. One that frees us from the bondages of sin and those dark patterns of thinking.
His guidance is available to us and is truly the only way by which we can truly conquer the unhealthy and dark patterns of thinking. We begin this climb by asking for God’s guidance through prayer and supplication. But don’t stop with just your words speaking repetitions and utterances…listen.
Part of the conversation with anyone and even God is not only talking but listening. This is where instruction and guidance can begin. We need to prostrate ourselves before God and be available to listen…simply listen. How else are we to hear from God if we do all of the talking? Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God…” Be still…we are to stop and listen, to be still and hear. Listening takes patience, silence from distractions and tuning into what God is saying to us. This act is truly an act of personal worship in a very intimate setting. It’s not some mystical mumbo jumbo that we do. You may not audibly hear God speak to you, but within our hearts resides his voice…within our soul He longs to permanently take up reside. He will speak to us in moments of silence and in moments of deep devotion. But all too often we are so distracted by the world around us that we hardly tune in to hear what he would say to us.
Not in some Eastern philosophy sense, but rather meditate on the very words of God. By that I mean read His words written for us in the Bible. Study it. Read the red letters of Jesus in the synoptic gospels. Read what Paul instructs the early churches to do. Understand what James has to say about the tongue in His book. Study the Bible, don’t approach it as some task or arduous homework assignment either. Do it out of love and devotion to God and the longing to live a healthier, holier life-style.
4. Discipline yourself:
Not by flogging yourself or punishing the flesh, by any means…but by being disciplined in your daily routines and attitudes. Be serious about wanting this joy and hope in your life. When we seek His guidance and listen to His voice we begin to find peace and understanding. We begin to want to spend more time with Him. For some five minutes in prayer is very difficult, but if we discipline ourselves in regards to prayer we will slowly begin to find five minutes isn’t nearly enough time to talk with God.
2 Corinthians 10:5b says, “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We we can make this climb out of our dark patterns of thought through God’s help, we will begin to understand this verse. We can truly experience pure joy and hope because we have, through the power of the Holy Spirit, taken captive of every thought. And we are in turn thinking within the realms of Joy and Hope.
Does this seem far fetched to you? I hope it doesn’t because God does not want us to reside any longer in the darkness of our minds, but He wants us to surrender every nook and cranny of our body, soul and mind to Him. When we are or have done so little by little we can begin to experience this joy and hope in every moment of our lives.