I know, I know. You're probably thinking,
What in the world does this have to do with anything? I thought this was supposed to be a devotion.
It is. I promise. I could have described this epic scene from The Lord of the Rings to you, but I felt it would have a greater impact for you to see it for yourself (assuming you haven't seen it before).
I've been thinking about this movie clip for a few weeks now. As I've already told you, the past couple of months have been busy, stressful and very non-routine. I like routines. I like schedules. I enjoy having a plan for my days and seeing those plans fulfilled. I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. Give me order, please!
But, I am not the author of my life, and invariably, things don't always work out the way I hope or plan. In times like these, when stress and fatigue are threatening to overwhelm me, I have to heed the advice in my book, Rise Up and Build. I have to guard my walls: my thoughts, my words, what I see and what I hear. I particularly have trouble with my thoughts, and I have to constantly remind myself of II Corinthians 10:5 which says,
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
And that's where the above movie clip comes into play.
I see my thoughts as that fiery monster--mean, threatening, scary and relentless. I see myself as Gandalf, standing before those thoughts and uttering the words in a somewhat calm but authoritative tone, "You cannot pass." The thoughts seem momentarily stunned by my brave stand, but soon they are pressing forward again, intent on conquering me. At which time, I summon up every ounce of strength I have and yell, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Seemingly defeated, the thoughts fall away, and I sigh in relief and turn to walk away. Big mistake! Never, ever turn your back to the enemy. If I'm not careful, I will find myself like Gandalf, defeated by the foe I assumed I had destroyed.
That's the thing with battling our thoughts. It's not a one-time event. It's a constant war, and we must be wary to never lower our guard. The mind is a battlefield. It is here that peace and joy are won or lost. These constant battles decide whether we will live in faith or in fear. So, it's imperative that we stay focused and never take our eyes off the enemy. Not a single thought should be allowed to pass without a thorough inspection of its content and intent. Those that are in tune with Philippians 4:8 may be allowed entrance. Those that are not must be treated with a firm stand, "You shall not pass!"
I used to think that bringing thoughts captive simply meant pushing them away or trying to ignore them. I would find myself saying, "No, I'm not going to think about that" and trying to shove the thought deep into my subconcious (much like sweeping dirt under the rug). But the problem with that is I didn't handle the problem; I only hid it temporarily. For the issue to be properly dealt with, it must be addressed and handled. That means recognizing the thought for what it is (a big, fiery monster out to destroy the abundant life God has promised me), refusing to allow it to remain, and handing it over to God, the only One who can really destroy it.
Several months ago, I started a program on mindfulness. The first session involved sitting quietly for three minutes and identifying thoughts as they came and went. I can't even tell you how many thoughts passed through my brain in that three minutes. The harder I tried not to think, the more ideas came to me. It was an eye-opening experience because it helped me to see how inattentive I had been to what was going on in my brain.
My challenge for you today is to guard your thoughts. They can be dangerous and even deadly. We must be on guard. We must be tapped into our power source (God). And we must be vigilant to continuously take a stand and boldly declare, "You shall not pass!" For some reason, visualizing this movie scene helps me when I'm facing a particularly stubborn thought that is determined to find a hold in my brain. Maybe it will help you as well.
Keep in mind that negative thoughts may not have a physical shape, but they are deadly enemies all the same, and we must treat them as such. Don't give them an inch. Don't give them access. And whatever you do, don't turn your back on them.