The Cultivation of Beautiful Thoughts
NCW 21, July 1995
Q. I have been going through a "down" period in my gospel life and can't seem to get going again. What's worse, I don't actually want to do anything. What can I do?
There are many kinds of agriculture in the world but one that interests me alot is called intensive cultivation. Poor people in Indonesia who grow rice have very little land so they must make the best of what they have by taking especially good care of it. They work hard to carry natural fertiliser to it to enrich the soil. Because of the climate they have several crops a year.
Our souls are rather like plots of land which we are supposed to spiritually cultivate. It's hard, back-breaking work, but without it there is no crop and finally spiritual starvation.
When we go through "down" periods there is a powerful temptation to just "give up". The result spiritually is the same as the farmer who is tired of the back-breaking work of tending his fields: no harvest. Jesus said that we reap what we sow. And as any businessman will tell you your profits are usually in proportion to your investment.
It may be that we have invested heavily in the gospel life and we find ourselves overwhelmed by difficulties which sap our strength and take away our motivation to continue. If this has happened to you, consider carefully your response, because whatever happens in your life always happens with God's permission and with a purpose in mind, whether it is to correct you because of sinful behaviour or simply to strengthen you for difficult times ahead.
Dream of the Birds to be Eaten
I myself recently went through a patch not unlike your own. I became idle, insensitive and despondent. Realising my spiritual poverty I prayed for guidance one evening. That night I dreamed that I was walking on a narrow mountain path down towards a valley. To my left were tiny fields no more than about 15 meters square and on these fields were thousands upon thousands of small colourful birds. As I drew closer I could see that they were actually on water. They were exquisitely beautiful, like miniature birds of paradise. A voice then told me that I should eat them which at the time seemed perfectly normal. Birds are usually symbolic of thoughts in dreams and I was led to understand that I was being told to fill my mind with beautiful thoughts.
So I suggest that you plant beautiful thoughts into your head and see the crop that results! Some people like to meditate on nature and its wonderful intricacy -- such thoughts eventually lead them back to God, and naturally at that. Some like to meditate on their children and families. Seek for whatever is good that leads you to pleasant thoughts and then thank the Lord for those good things. Then meditate on other good things so that you continually plant your mind with good thoughts. Find those thoughts which make your heart swell with gratitude to your heavenly Father. One thing will lead to another quite naturally and sooner or later you will find yourself in your old spiritual condition. Nourish yourself daily until what you do becomes habit forming and you can sense the Holy Spirit's presence definitely. Thereafter do what the Spirit tells you, seeking for confirmation in God's Word, or vice versa.
Forget what lies behind you and then start straining for what lies ahead, your call in Christ (Phil.3:13-14). You will soon find peace if you do these things. "And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:7, RSV). Before long you will be seeking, and cherishing "whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is anything of excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, [you will] think about these things...and the Lord of peace will be with you" (Phil.4:8-9, RSV).
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 2 May 1998
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