Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Sinkhole and the Mountain, Part One

"We saw the Nephilim (giant-sized occupants of the Promised Land) there...
We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." Numbers 13: 33

There, in front of you, is a sinkhole and a mountain.

The sinkhole represents your fears and anxieties. It is practically bottomless. You don't want to fall into it. It is dark. It is frightening. Thinking about the things that live in that sinkhole makes your heart race and your breath go shallow.

Over there is a mountain. It is majestic, rugged, challenging and inspiring. To climb it will take effort. It will take forethought and fortitude. But, man, the view from the top must be splendid!

The mountain represents your God-given hopes, your dreams, your vision and your purpose.

You have a limited amount of time. You have a limited amount of resources. You must organize your time, your resources, your ability and your energies around one of two central endeavors:

1. Avoid the sinkhole
2. Climb the mountain

Which are you organized around? One way to find out is to check your prayers.

Are they mostly "sinkhole" prayers - "Oh please, Oh please, Oh please don't let me fall into that sinkhole!! (Repeat)".

Or are they "mountain climbing" prayers - "Oh please, Oh please, Oh please let me climb that mountain by the strength and grace You provide!

Let me plant a banner at its peak that bears the words: "to the Glory of God" and let it snap in the wind as I survey the view and sing Your praise! (repeat)".

Mental Disciplines

I find that, left to myself, I can easily get focused on living an avoidant life. Sinkhole-focused, my prayers, interior conversation and daily approach to living can orbit my anxieties they way the planets orbit the sun. Bleah...

Or, by the grace of God, I can practice the mental disciplines required to re-orient myself around the mountain climb. This requires me to think differently about just about everything.

Sometimes, especially in the wee hours of the morning, I wake up, my mind racing around the sinkhole, my thoughts circling it like a ball circles a spinning roulette wheel. At those times, I have to discipline my thoughts with prayer, with Scripture, with recollections of the goodness of God and so on. Sometimes I lift my hand up into the air, fist clenched, and call on God.

I will fight "sinkhole thinking" by re-training my thoughts toward the mountain He has shown me is waiting there for me to climb:

"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121: 1, 2).

to be continued...

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