I love our holidays when everyone comes home. This Thanksgiving I had all seven grandchildren from 11 months to 7 years running through the house filling it with noise that probably delights a grandmother’s ears alone! As wonderful as those little one were it was those conversations with my grown children, snatched in the quiet moments that gave me the greatest pleasure and surprise. During one of our late night chats my youngest son shared with us of a clandestine activity around gaming that made him a bit of a name in computer gaming world at the age of 14. My daughter asked if I knew about that. Well of course the answer was a rather surprised NO! I knew he was a bit of a computer geek but notoriety was not part of the picture. Secrets, in this case a harmless one, but it did make me ponder as I recalled other stories that have come out concerning my boys as they were growing up… As a parent we do our best but we don’t have perfect transparency into all our children do.
As I was studying the word I saw a sharp contrast between what I was able to see in the lives of my children and what God sees concerning us. The scriptures tell us that He sees all we do and all we think about and knows every word that will come out of our mouths before we utter them!
Psalm 139 1-5
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
2 You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.
3 You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have beset me and shut me in—behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me.
We are known by God. The very cry of our hearts to be known by someone for who we really are is a reality! As a young woman I had been a model and an airline attendant. At that time outward appearances were everything, my sense of self was intricately tied to how I looked and was perceived by others. When I married Dave it was amazing to me that he thought I looked best in jeans and no make up! I felt really loved just for “me” and not an image I had to work so hard to keep up. That was so freeing. I could let someone really know me and trust that he would still love me. That is what David is saying in this psalm, more than another person could ever know us God searches us, knows us and still surrounds us, hemming us in, enclosing us in His arms and keeping His hand on us. He knows us in a restful state and when we are up and active. He understands our thoughts before they are formed. He knows every word we will speak before they are spoken.
1 Chronicles 28:9b
For the Lord searches all hearts and minds and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts.
These two passages have had interesting ramifications for me. On the one hand there is this amazing wonder and warmth that comes from understanding that God knows me so intimately, that I am always seen and never overlooked. On the other hand my thought life suddenly came under new scrutiny. Nothing is ever in thought in secret. My thoughts are not mine alone. I share every one of them with God.
Over the years I have learned fairly well to control my words or at least I am doing better… I know that life and death are in the power of the tongue. I work to measure my spoken words, towards others and over myself. I am also working on my thought life however it was this phrase wondering thoughts that gave me the greatest concern. When I just let my mind go and imagine fearful scenarios around my kids, health, finances…. Or when I entertain thoughts of criticism or judgement towards others I am allowing my thoughts to wonder off course!. They may be a secret from everyone else but not from God. The good news is that this week I have been catching myself before wondering off too far.
Recognizing our negative secret thoughts is a first step, but to be truly free of them we have to put something in their place.
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].
This all takes an amazing amount of discipline. Recognition, repentance and replacement are necessary to re-wire our thinking.
In her book “Switch on your Brain”, Dr. Caroline Leaf states; “ As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts. New thought networks grow. We increase our intelligence and bring healing to our minds and physical bodies.”
I have often taught on the transformation of our minds from Romans 12:2
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
As I consider that God sees every thought I am incredibly motivated to change my thinking about just about everything. The phrase What would Jesus Do is great but to go a step further I am asking myself; What would Jesus think? Are my thoughts even close to what He thinks in a given situation?
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”.
Dr. Leaf uses science to back up this scriptural truth stating that our thoughts, imagination, and choices can change the structure and function of our brains on every level. Through our thoughts, we can be our own brain surgeons as we make choices that change the circuits in our brains. We are designed to do our own brain surgery. This scientific power of our mind to change the brain is called epigenetics and spiritually it is as a man thinks, so is he ( Proverbs 23:7). The way the brain changes as a result of mental activity is scientifically called neuroplasticity. And spiritually, it is the renewing of the mind. (Rom 12:2) . Epigenetics is the tangible, scientific proof of how important our choices are; they bring life or death, blessing or cursing, and they reach beyond us to influence the next generations (Deut. 30:19)
God wants us to know how important our thought life is so he lets us know that between He and us our thoughts are transparent. There are no secrets. We are seen and heard because like a loving parent His desire is for our health and well-being. I wanted to know all that my children were doing so that I could protect and instruct them out of my love for them. God desires the very same thing. His hand is upon us, as a reminder of His unconditional love as well as for our protection and guidance.
This holiday season will no doubt be filled with circumstances that could evoke less that pure and lovely thoughts as we experience the rush, the odd relative and the onslaught of new situations that could trip up our thinking. Lets remember we have a thought partner and be our own brain surgeons!