Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
How often do you turn your thoughts over to God? How regularly do you choose to live in freedom, surrendering every doubt, every fear–immediately–over to Him?
I am walking in sunlight, our dog, Fulton, eager on his leash. I have made different choices today with my time, letting God’s words to me yesterday sink in: run, write, read. Remember how I made you? Remember what you love to do, with Me?
I had a mostly not-so-fun day yesterday. Not horrible, but I felt off; misplaced. I worked like crazy on some tasks that were not my favorite, tasks that had labels like SEO and image compression and file names. Yes, they were things I needed to get done–and we all have tasks like that, don’t we? Things we have to do that we may not especially relish, during our days?
But here was the problem:
I let fear take over and be the boss of me yesterday.
I literally stood at the counter in my kitchen–without eating, without drinking, without walking our poor dog, without exercising, without praying or talking to God or even sitting–for five hours. I had convinced myself that I needed to get these things checked off my list of things to do before I was able to the things I love to do, the things I am made to do, the things that help me more readily see and experience God and feel most like myself. More loving. More peace-filled. More beautiful. More me.
Do you ever feel you are making choices in how your spend your time more out of fear than out of the truth of knowing who you are and, especially, who God is? Do you spend much of your days working hard at tasks you know you need to complete but you struggle to find joy in–because of fear? Because of forgetting how you are loved and who, really, is in charge?
We live from a place of fear when we let our minds be focused on tasks of the world rather than the truth of the nature of God.
It is not easy to find joy in every single task we complete every day. On a daily basis, washing dishes and folding laundry and organizing papers are things I struggle to get too excited about. And yesterday I had spent the day doing some less-than-exciting but important tasks for our non-profit that I needed to complete. And there is nothing wrong with working hard. Some things, after all, just need to get done. But we need to surrender our thoughts to God about how we are spending our time, how we are approaching these tasks we are seeking to complete.
We must align our thoughts with God’s good nature and not with what the enemy wants us to focus on: fear.
I feared not being able to complete the whole task in the short amount of time I had, so I worked as fast as I could, without coming up for air. I feared not being valued, so I needed to prove it, through my efforts, through my productivity, through my accomplishing things. I feared falling behind and not being able to surrender what didn’t get done before the kids got home from school, when I want to focus on them. So I worked even harder, my mind racing, responding to fear rather than living in the reality of God’s love.
And I felt spiritually exhausted.
So when the text came in yesterday afternoon, from a friend, asking if I had spent time with God that day, it was a love-letter to me straight from Him. I knew what I needed to do: I stopped what I was doing. I closed the computer. I left the kitchen and checked the clock: 30 minutes until I go to pick up the kids. And I lay down on the floor.
God wants to remind us how we are rescued, how we are His, how we are loved because of who He is, not because of what we do.
When I slowed and turned towards God, thinking of Him, his face, His heart–and listening for his words for me, I realized how much more there is to a day than getting something crossed on a list. No matter how urgent the task feels, it is meaningless if we are completing the task without being centered on Christ.
Remember who you are; remember who I am. Come to Me. Stay with Me. Let Me cleanse you. Let Me energize you. Let Me renew your mind.
First, ask God to cleanse your mind.
Keeping our mind–our heart–centered on what is true about God frees our mind of fear, and we can live from a true place, a place of freedom. Let us do this:
Destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
If you are living this day, reacting to what needs to get done, fearful for what will happen if you don’t do it, surrender your mind to God. If you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, distracted by not feeling good enough, or saddened by not knowing how you will get through all the tasks that need to get done, surrender your mind to God.
When we are moving through our days without turning, without pausing, without seeing God in the details, in the minutes, in the lists of things to do, we are living a life of fear, rather than a life centered on Christ. Remember this: We are made to live true lives, free and powerful in our identities in Christ. We are not made to cower from ploys made by an enemy who has already been conquered.
Next, ask God to focus you on what is true about Him.
I forget, too often, how Satan has already been defeated. I forget, too often, that God is immovable; always good, always kind, always loving. Because God is steadfast, because He doesn’t change in His love for us, we are conquerors, with Christ. Paul tells the church in Rome how we are more than conquerors; we are daughters and sons of God who get to take our place in a kingdom already won.
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:33-37).
When we succumb to fear, we are forgetting the nature of God, who reveals to us his nature, over and over, in our lives.
I think we just fail to listen. We fail to notice. We fail to heed God’s nature and instead heed fears that Satan–who, we must remember, is already conquered–tries to plant in our heads. And we are vulnerable to Satan planting seeds of doubt and fear into our minds when our thoughts are not surrendered to God.
So I write this to myself today–reminding myself to surrender my mind to God. And although the list of things to get done isn’t any shorter today (because when is it shorter, really?), I have made it a priority to do the things that God has made to do, the things He has made me to love, so I can more easily turn my mind and heart to Him. So today, I have been outside, with the sun on my face. I have written and listened for His voice. Tonight, with my family by my side, I will ask God to help me sit down, and read, and not worry if not all the dishes are put away or the house is perfectly straightened up.
Look to Me. Remember Me. Turn to Me and stay.
Holding my thoughts captive to God means making choices with my time–intentionally doing things that help me experience God’s love for me. And this helps me remember Him. And then, again, I remember how I am free.
What is one practical way you choose to surrender your mind to God?
This post appeared originally at GatherMinistries.com