That day we were taking our usual walk through the canyon by my house. What wasn’t usual was that it was April 2020 – the height of the panic of Covid-19. Our entire conversation was focused on trying to discern the truth about the dangers we were facing. My friend turned to me and said, “I don’t understand. Why aren’t you afraid?”
Before I reveal my answer let me back up a bit. I am a maturing Christian. I’m past the “baby Christian” phase and making what my Bible Study Girls call “imperfect progress.” Had this virus and the media response to it been around about 10 years ago I would be freaking out. I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I would pace the house all day with jumbled, unsettled thoughts – not being able to accomplish anything. I would be frantic about the economy, my husband’s business failing, my kids getting sick and so much more. The battlefield of my mind would look like a World War 1 field of hidden trenches, barbed wire and the stench of all things unsanitary. That’s how I handled a lot of problems. Fast forward to that April 2020 walk.
“I’m not afraid of dying is the simplest answer,” I replied. I had peace in my mind and in my heart that for one, I didn’t have control over much of what was going on and two, if I got sick or someone I loved got sick and died I knew I would see them again. I hadn’t thought about it much until she asked me. And when I answered I realized my mind battlefield looked more like victory than a bombed-out shelter. Sure there are the occasional skirmishes but my battle plan is solid.
So many of God’s lessons about going out and making “fishers of men” first require us to get right minded with Jesus. And James reminds us of this when he admonishes us to control our tongue, commit to doing good deeds, show others mercy, and gain God’s wisdom. So, when he says:
I first think, “how can I be a peacemaker when I frequently battle myself?” We’ve all joked before about having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Each whispering in our ear. The tug-of-war going on in our minds is surely not peaceful. And if we can’t get our own mind to be at peace with God then how can we reflect peace out to others?
I was reading excerpts from Francis Frangipane’s book, The Three Battlegrounds. One of those battlegrounds is our mind. The description of the combatants is fascinating. It’s important in any battle to know who, exactly, you are up against.
“We should know this about Satan: he is an ancient and extremely treacherous foe. On the other hand, the strength of most Christians lies primarily in idealism and untested fervor.”
In other words, Satan has had a lot more practice on this battlefield than you or I. It’s no wonder he seems to succeed so easily. We are tricked into thinking all our negative self-talk is justified – even in the face of knowing we are made in God’s image. Ya, but that saggy stomach and those large hips. And people aren’t going to like us anyways. Honestly, with this realization of Satan’s 10,000 page resume up against our entry into this battlefield for what, 30 years, 20? 5? 1? It’s no wonder we struggle finding peace in our minds.
“What happens when you wake up in the morning feeling low, irritated, discouraged, or frustrated – and you don’t know exactly why? There has to be reason. For every root there is a fruit.”Joyce Meyer, Understanding the Root of Your Fruit
We’ve all done this – some of us are doing it every, single day. We wake up (that is if we ever did get to sleep) and immediately start thinking how bad the day is probably going to be. Sometimes we struggle because we just aren’t taking care of ourselves physically. Did you drink that extra glass of wine and went to bed late? What’s your diet and exercise routine (ha!)? Or maybe it’s a spiritual problem like you care too much about what other people think about you instead of focusing on God. Maybe you’ve forgotten that Jesus lives in you and you’ve shoved Him aside in order to try and “take control.” I do know this, when we aren’t aligning ourselves with God then the opposite must be true. And if that’s the case how in the world can we effectively handle a grumpy salesclerk?
Turning to folly is the key to that statement. The gift of peace is right there for the taking. God allows us to be sifted by Satan. He did it to Peter in order for Peter to get his pride in check. God knows we have wheat and chaff in our minds. He is greater than Satan. So, when God allows Satan to test us, sift us, and we turn to the angel on our shoulder instead of the devil, God knows the end product will be good. Our minds want to tell us the opposite of God’s love. Our minds want to be distracted by worldly things. Those darn minds can think too highly or lowly of ourselves. And our minds like to seek revenge. Just as James describes the small bit controlling a large horse, we need to use God’s Truth in His Words to tame our wild minds.
God is always working in our life. We just need to pray and persist in our goal toward God-centered wisdom. When we rise in the morning and thank Him for another day to be able to serve Him; when we take the time to sit in communion with Him; when we keep our eyes, hearts and minds on Him throughout our day it doesn’t leave much room for Satan to enter.
I don’t know about you but I’d rather make it through the minefield safely using Jesus as my bomb-sniffing dog. Constantly looking to him along the path for guidance. He knows what lies ahead. When we are closely aligned, I can see His subtle signals telling me to be careful and which steps to take. When we successfully make it to the other side we can guide others through that field as well.