Our Bible verse for today: “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Think like you want to feel.”
Mondays are my day off. This past Monday was sunny and in the mid-70s so I took off on my Harley for a long motorcycle ride along beautiful country roads. And it was beautiful. The trees and flowers are in bloom, the fields are a deep rich green, the rivers and creeks are full and flowing, wildlife is out – the scenery was gorgeous!
But suddenly I realized I wasn’t really seeing or appreciating it. Instead my mind was dwelling on, mulling over, wrestling with, things that were bothering me. There’s that extra five pounds of belly fat that I can’t seem to get rid of. And then there are the widows on the house that haven’t been cleaned since last summer. Then my phone vibrated and I just had to stop to see what it was. Sure enough, work-related text messages! I responded. And then as I rode along I started thinking about those work issues. So I stopped again and sent some more responses.
Finally I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying my time off on this beautiful day and it was my own fault. I was allowing my mind to dwell on things I should not have been thinking about instead of relaxing and soaking-in the peaceful beauty all around me. And as a result, I was not feeling happy or relaxed. Instead I was brooding and a little stressed.
We are responsible for the things we allow our mind to dwell on. It’s true that what the mind dwells on is largely a factor of influences we have allowed into it, but even once we have surrounded ourselves with good influences we still need to choose to focus on that rather than on the negative. You can be riding a motorcycle in the country but be thinking about a work project. You can be listening to Christian praise music but be thinking about your annoying neighbor.
You get my point. In Philippians 4:8 Paul counsels us to fill our minds with good stuff, and to then actually dwell on that good stuff rather than on negatives. Do you want to be happy? Then think about things that make you happy. Do you want to laugh? Then think about funny things.
And speaking of funny things that make you laugh, when I got home from that motorcycle ride, a little grumpy and disappointed because I didn’t take full advantage of it, I was met at the door by our two little sissy dogs (8 pounds each). When they saw me they yipped and yapped in joy. They jumped up and down and one of them ran in a tight circle chasing her tail and yipping in delight at the same time. They rubbed up against my ankles and stood on their hind legs waiting to be picked up, all while furiously wagging their tails. Their minds were fully focused on me, and to them I was the most important person in the world. They were just happy I was home and that’s all they were thinking about. As a result they were filled with joy.
I remember thinking to myself as I enjoyed their attention, “Lord, help me to actually be the person my dogs seem to think I am.” And then I laughed because I realized that dogs are better at being happy than we are. And that made me laugh some more.