Our neighbors have chickens and roosters. For whatever reason, about once a week, this little blondie wanders over to our side of the fence. She’s alone, minding her own business. She roots around looking for food, taking her time. Sometimes she visits for about an hour and other times she’s here half the day. There used to be a country singing group called The Dixie Chicks and they sang a song called Wide Open Spaces.
That’s why I call her Dixie. She seems to need her space. She’s prone to wander.
Much like my thoughts.
When I was younger, I learned the hard way that once you let words come out of your mouth, there is no getting them back. Like squirting toothpaste from the tube, once it’s out, it’s out. Our words can heal or they can hurt. No amount of apologizing, explaining or justifying can ever undo the damage that our words can inflict. There was a time that I spoke out one too many times, and it cost me a very valuable friendship.
Looking back, it was then that I started being more of a listener and observer than a talker. I was determined to examine every single syllable before it moved across my lips. The flip side to this is that I tend to over think everything before I say it. Everything.
To be honest, I hate it. I can get so focused on upcoming conversations that I drive myself crazy. A silent battle goes on in my mind that no one else can see.
God knows our thoughts, the enemy does not. But, the enemy does know the power of the mind. That’s why the Apostle Paul warns us about this.
“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.”
2 Corinthians 10:5b
Some of the things that are taking place in our heads are setting us up against the knowledge of God. Over thinking can lead to fear. It leads to doubting ourselves. It pushes us to try to predict.
Over thinking takes us down a path of our own making. With our backs to God, we blindly follow the trail that is laying itself out right before us.
CAPTIVE1 : a taken and held as or as if a prisoner of warb (1) : kept within bounds : confined (2) : of or relating to captive animals <captive breeding>2 : held under control of another but having the appearance of independence; especially : owned or controlled by another concern and operated for its needs rather than for an open market <acaptive mine>3 : being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult <acaptive audience>
When you need to take something captive, what do you imagine? Wrangling a herd of cats? Chasing down a horse that has escaped its pen. Luring the chickens back into their coop?
We know that these animals are better off when they are in our care, when they have boundaries. Our thought life needs boundaries. The word of God sets them.
God knew that our thoughts would be prone to wander, just like Dixie. He knows all too well that the place they can take us can be dangerous, even life threatening for some.
Paul’s words don’t say that He will wrangle our thoughts for us. It says for us to take captive. We are responsible.
While we can make it a daily prayer to ask God to help us with this, and we should, we are ultimately in charge of getting ourselves off of the road that we are walking if our thoughts are not in alignment with our knowledge of God.
When we realize that we are over thinking, let’s use that as a trigger to pray. Let’s tell God that we trust Him with whatever it is we’re rolling around in our minds. Then…move. Get back inside the boundaries where we are free to relax, trust and even play. It’s a safe place.
Serve someone. Call a friend and catch up. Engage in something positive. It will help chase away those previous thoughts. But be warned, they will try to return, this is a discipline that we must exercise regularly.
We must stay on guard.
Run back to the safety of God’s word when our thoughts have strayed too far.
Keep our wrangling ropes handy.