I recently had a number of days to reflect, meditate and talk with the Lord as I waited for my son, Lance Corporal Josh Snyder, to return back to the States from Afghanistan.
I began my travels to 29 Palms, California with the intent of a six day stay as the 3rd Battalion 4 Marines returned home from the War on terror. Unfortunately, a volcano in Iceland spit out some ash that kept our boys from flying out of Kuwait and I ended up extending my stay for an extra five days. A changed airline ticket, longer car rental and five more nights in the motel stretched my budget way past the breaking point. Out of my 12 day stay I was able to spend a total of twelve hours with my son.
I had to ask myself, was it worth it? My answer is a resounding yes! After seven months and numerous missions involving weapon fire, I was able to give my Marine the “man” hug that I so desperately needed.
As I thought about the situation that I found myself in, 2,000 miles away from my lovely wife and great church family, I began to dwell on the mind and what we put into it. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
What Paul was telling us is that we need to be intentional about focusing our minds. We need to take charge over what we think about. If we don’t, it will control us. Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:8-9,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Paul tells us to think about the pure (that which accurately reflects God) and to focus on the right (or the righteous . . .that which pleases God.) It is not natural for us to think godly thoughts. We have to put forth an effort in order to do it. We need to put the correct information into our minds the same way we must put information into a computer before it is of any use to us.
Since our desire is to think about what reflects God accurately, then the place to start is with the Word of God. As we think on God’s Word we are attaching ourselves to a truth that does not change and is not subject to the whims of human opinion. God’s truth is God’s truth yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Bible does not change simply because our culture and society changes. We need to do more than simply read the Bible, we must get to know the Bible. We must think on God’s truth and apply His values and direction to our life.
As I reflected on the circumstances I found myself in, as I waited for my son to return, I decided I could do one of two things. I could either become negative or positive. It would be easy for me to feel sorry for myself and get all down in the dumps. One of the things that causes the greatest anxiety in our lives is drawing premature conclusions to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I decided instead of getting negative that I would remain positive and take my thinking captive and make it obedient to Christ.
I have long been a believer that we choose the way we respond to any given situation or circumstance. Why should I allow any circumstance to control my mood? We can focus on our inability or God’s sufficiency. It is ultimately our choice how we are going to think.
We do not need to be negative thinkers, we can be godly thinkers. We ought to want to inject life into the circumstances and people around us rather than drain the life out of the situation and ourselves. We ought to desire to stand for what is pure and not lay down for that which is not. We need to stand firm on the Word of God and keep its truth saturating our minds. We need to focus on the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.