Or I could say, Homeward.
The noise of the world so easily sways our thoughts, emotions, reactions and desires. Currently, we are living in a very noisy generation. Since the Fall, humankind has been dealing with the problems of hate, germs, lies, pride, power struggles, injustice, and all other manner of evil. Yet now, we hear about these on a global scale. Has it all waxed worse? In many ways yes–but in many ways there is nothing new under the sun–and that means no new evils.
We are in a battle–as believers. But against what enemy? Darkness, mostly. In our quest to be the light, to walk in the Light, we cannot forget that our true enemy is often hidden behind the circumstances we perceive with our senses. Sensory knowledge can get us pretty far in life, but will fail us in what ultimately matters. Darkness is contrasted with Light in the Gospels when Jesus teaches that those in darkness do not know Him and delight in the things He hates (see this post on how Light represents knowledge). Our battle must be taken seriously, against what truly wages war with our souls.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
I’m currently re-reading the Lord of the Rings series, by Tolkien, and this quote from Two Towers sums up what I think is one of our greatest weapons in our current battle:
We fight this battle of thought and affection by setting our minds on greater affections, on what will truly satisfy. We were made for another world. In this one we are afflicted, we struggle, we are never fully satisfied. But what would a moment of silence, and thoughts set on “what will ever be” do for us in this battle?
Do we settle? No. If we set our eyes only on what we see, we give in to the modern drugs of materialism and utilitarianism and survivalism and other such idols that effectively silence our desires for the goodness, truth and beauty that will last eternally, with completely unmatched quality. If you want to read further on this, I highly recommend The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, by Thomas Chalmers.
God has set eternity in our hearts, let us enjoy that!
Turn with me now to 2 Corinthians 4:6f: “For God who said “Light shall shine in the darkness” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. But we have this treasure [yes beloved, this light of knowledge is your treasure!!!] in earthen vessels, that the power would be of God and not of ourselves. We are afflicted in every way…perplexed…struck down…Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not to the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal.”
Training your mind to return to thoughts of the unseen is one of the greatest spiritual disciplines to help as we muddle through, sojourn, travel on, to walk in light and love, to keep true in our quest of seeking the city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14). Our hope will not disappoint. What is your hope, beloved?
As the men of Gondor made a habit to think upon where they had been, and where they ultimately would end up at meal time, so we can set a habit that will prove to be renewing and refreshing. We must train our minds to take just a moment to think upon these things, to look to Christ where He is, to look at the unseen, the eternal. Without the training, our thoughts and affections follow the patterns of this scattered, compartmentalized, deconstructed world we live in.
Three Simple Ideas
Want to set your mind on things above more regularly? Here are three simple ideas to get you started:
1. Pick your times to begin–maybe mid-morning coffee break, and afternoon tea-time? Maybe prebreakfast workout and afternoon walk? Maybe every time you wash dishes? Maybe for one minute every hour during your work day (only 8 minutes mind you!)? Maybe on the 3’s (6a.m., 9a.m., noon, 3p.m., 6p.m., 9p.m.)? Maybe just added into an existing habit–the end of your set prayer times? Part of a mealtime prayer?
2. Memorize a passage that will help you set your mind, inviting you to partake of this grace: Psalm 27:4; Psalm 36:5-9; John 14:1-4; John 17; Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 11:39-12:2
3. Make yourself a bookmark that has one of these verses, every time you read your latest selection–be it fiction, memoir, theology, cookbook, or your latest “how-to”–you start by reading the bookmark, setting your mind on the unseen, and then move on to reading your book.
For more on the mind and affections and spiritual disciplines, and their impact on your enjoyment of life, see here.