Recently I got bored sitting at the back of the room during an exciting meeting. Being the enlightened man that I am, I discreetly fired up my iPod and played around with it. For some reason I opened up my podcast files. I accidently touched the wrong thing and one of my podcasts started playing right in the middle of the meeting!
I frantically tried to shut it off while the speaker tried to pretend he didn’t hear anything and several others suppressed grins. I was hoping they would think it was someone else playing the role of the idiot in this scene but the podcast was in English and the meeting was in French. The only other English-speaker was my wife and she was sitting up front like a good little girl, instead of at the back with her husband (Do you have any idea why she wouldn’t want to sit next to me?).
I had several exciting seconds before I got it shut down. I kept pushing the wrong thing. At least I was no longer bored.
Boredom, anger, lust, lack of concentration, jealousy, desire, ambition, vision, joy, peace, assurance—all these things go on inside our head. We joke about the vacuum in the space between our ears. But, it’s rarely a vacuum. The truth of the matter is, if you’re good in your head you can sit through meetings that don’t stimulate you and all will still be well in your world.
Or not. I suppose it depends.
As a matter of fact, you can even write letters from a cockroach-infested prison and encourage people for thousands of years afterwards (actually I can’t vouch for the cockroaches but there must have at least been fleas and bedbugs in that prison).
How could Prisoner Paul write to others and tell them, “Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!”? Surely he wouldn’t tell them to do something he wasn’t doing.
I had a conversation about thoughts with some other men last week. We discussed how to fill up our minds with good things instead of boredom, anger, lust and all their buddies. We decided that one of the keys to positive, faith-filled thoughts was to quit resisting wrong thoughts and REPLACE them with powerful thoughts.
So where do I find these replacement thoughts to put my between my big ears?
1- One friend said that when he’s down, he thinks of his grandson and that cheers him up. You may not have a grandson but instead of turning your problem over and over, looking sideways at it, holding it over your head to see it in a clearer light, etc., why don’t you stop, and think of something that you really like or someone you love or something that’s made you happy? Think about that!
“I don’t have anything like that,” you whine. False! It’s just that you’re not giving enough weight to the blessings God has downloaded into your life and you’re hypnotized by your problems. Think! Meditate! Let your mind hover over something good and you’ll be surprised at the kinds of thoughts that show up.
2-Someone else said that he thinks about things that God has done for him in the past. He remembers. We’ve got a ton of thought fodder when we remember good things that have happened to us. I know there are some tough memories, too, but it’s those good ones that ripple life into my muscles today. The tough ones drain me if I camp on them.
3-We talked about how important it is to have a vision in your mind of where you are going in life. If you’re just living for today without any goals you’re going to be frustrated if something messes with your world. Someone said that faith in the future gives hope in the present. Do you have an idea of where you’re going? You might want to think a bit about it because I’ve got bad news for you: your world is going to change. It will. You’re not always going to be in the place you are now. Of course, that might be good news for some of us.
4- One of the men brought up the most important factor of thought-exchange. Kick out those killer thoughts and put God’s word in your mind. Get your nose in the Word until you find what it says about situations similar to yours. Then put what God said in your mind. Last year I must have said a hundred times, “God is for me. He’s on my side. If God is for me who can be against me? He that spared not his own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not, with Him, freely give us all good things?”
Evict those hopeless thoughts and begin to fill up the resulting hole with what God has promised you. Remind yourself and remind God. The Lord hasn’t forgotten but He likes it when we insist on what he’s promised. It means we’re looking to Him and not elsewhere.
Did I say it would be easy? If I did I was lying. It’s a battle every day but a battle that’s more than worth it. Clean house each morning and decide what is going to play in between your ears.
And a little advice: If you’re bored in a meeting, and you’ve snuck out your Ipod to fill your head with something else, don’t open the podcast file or the music files. There are worse things in life than boredom.
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Rom. 12:2, J.B. Phillips