"You are making me crazy!" The words fling out in moments of intense frustration. There is a striving, a seeking to exert control over another life that leaves me exasperated and all bunched up inside. In these moments my imperfections, especially my sense of powerlessness, seem to spread like gangrene.
Again I learn the lesson that I can control only myself.
I read a letter that begins with wise counsel encouraging the recipient to own grace, mercy, and peace. One word above all leaps off the page... Peace. Indicating cessation of struggling; leaving conflict behind and embracing harmony. Peace is the very essence of freedom.
When my world roars chaos, and I feel cramped, powerless, how do I get to that wide open place?
The letter continues, prayer- yes, day and night- in the moment of chaos, in the moment when my heart would faint, to nestle into a strength beyond what I alone can muster. Prayer is the surrender of my own weak strength in favor of the power of God.
Bringing prayer into every moment invites peace to dwell within. A natural and sincere faith, abiding deep. Knowing that comforting assurance that God is truthful and trustworthy, all powerful and the embodiment of love. Allowing my faith in the One who does not control, only loves, to tunnel deep, bundling my worries, and yes, even me. All I am, and all I am not, covered by his all consuming love. I read on. The author writes as a reminder to "stir up the gift of God"- not to stir up worries and a frail mind, but to embrace a powerful, loving and disciplined spirit.
Oh, how easily my mind can be stirred up by sights and sounds, by fears and frailties. Still, I have a choice: to live in the oppression of fear and discontent, or to dwell in freedom gained through self discipline. In the military, troops are trained for warfare. Undaunted discipline is imperative, for in the midst of war and chaos, self discipline can be the difference between life and death. So too in the battlefield of the mind. Do I allow fearfulness, lack of self control to reverberate within, or do I breathe deep of the Spirit of self discipline and wage war on the enemy's attempt to mire me in my own fears?
In this historic letter, "a spirit of self discipline" is sometimes translated as 'a sound mind'. A sound mind rather than a "crazy" one. A mind that is healthy, infused with wellness, at peace. A sound mind and a self disciplined mind both indicate unity and wellness. A self disciplined mind is a sound mind if God's truth is the foundation of the thought process.
A sound mind is a mind that focuses not on the noise of this life, but on the heart of God.
A sound mind has been set free- not from the consequences of life choices, but from the condemnation brought on by our decisions.
A sound mind is set free from the enemy's accusations through the power of God's unparalleled mercy, and the blood of Jesus that covers and cleanses.
A sound mind is created through surrender and self discipline.
Jesus came as the annointed Liberating King. A sound mind is the embodiment of the liberty he empowers us to know- without a shadow of a doubt.
A sound mind sets me free.
And just in case you were wondering, how does the author, suffering in chains, get through? By giving thanks. Really! At the beginning of the letter, no less.
In light of those who have struggled and learned before, let us partner together, encouraging one another to let peace reign in our hearts. Let us not camp on the hills of pacification, but rather, create the habit of dwelling in the Prince of Peace. In him alone we discover how to live fully in that wide open place the disciplined mind affords, how to defend the sound mind when the enemy comes against us, how to speak truth into our day to day lives and to grasp gratitude in every moment.
(Reference: 2 Timothy 1:1-13, The Voice Transaltion)