It's a hard confession to admit how quickly my mind can be drawn from where it ought to be on a Sunday morning down an unhealthy path of question and doubt, not only of others but of myself. A possibly misconstrued dismissal and my mind goes running down a whole list of possibilities that make my heart ache and it builds like a tide creating a fight or flight compulsion inside me that wants to flee or confront.
The battle to take thoughts captive (for me at least) is full time and difficult.
"... we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Paul admonishes in his second letter to the Corinthians. (10:5)
It's warfare he tells us, this battle of the mind. The dangerous weapons formed against us as Christians are unseen, not seen. No guns, knives and clubs to concern ourselves with, the weapons of the enemy are far more ominous, sneaking up on a relaxed mind.
The enemy comes at us instead with doubt, fear, disunity, accusation, self-centeredness and selfishness. Suspicion - oh that's one of his favorite ones to use against me. Gets me every time too, and leads me down a long road of unhealthy thoughts and emotions.
I wish it were so simple - I can picture just snatching the thought out of the air and dropping it into a "Jesus cage" if you will. "You naughty thought, how dare you!" And I clamp the cage shut and throw away the key - AS IF!
These thoughts may flit in like a butterfly, but they have the teeth of a venomous snake and even when you grab hold of it the risk is high it's going to turn around and bite you, or worse. Do you remember the scene from "The Jungle Book" where the snake Kaa began to mesmerize little Mowgli? The thought like the snake's eyes tries to pull you in and mesmerize you. You cannot focus on it too long or suddenly it's carrying you away into an entirely unhappy, unhealthy - even deadly, place.
Mowgli gets it right though, you have to evict the thought completely to gain control. You cannot play with it even a little.
But life isn't always like a cartoon. It takes much more than brute force (however much you can muster). It takes diligence, effort and a total avoidance of complacency. It's hard work. But I am believing it has to be worth it. Right? Otherwise the Bible wouldn't tell us that's what we need to do.
I think obedience to Christ means that the thought is taken out of our hands and placed completely in Christ's - who unlike us isn't susceptible to the snake of a thought that wants to embed itself in our brains, crushing hope and life out in its efforts. I think it means first of confessing that the thought is not honoring to the Lord - whatever spin that it may take to get there, that is the bottom line, whether accusation, doubt, disunity or just a plain old lie, the thought has set itself up against the knowledge of God and cannot be tolerated much less contemplated.
It's a long and involved job, but it's necessary to live a life full in Christ. So I've got to get those spiritual muscles working, and when those thoughts come for my mind, I just have to knock them right out of the tree - maybe someday they'll stop crawling back up after me in the end!