I was having “one of those days.” It was a Tuesday. Nolan was at Mother’s Day Out and I was supposed to be writing. The morning started out promising—a steaming cup of coffee, uninterrupted time with the Lord, minimal distractions so I could start ticking items off my to-do list. Except I was bothered by everything. I was feeling anxious about nothing, yet all of life—all of it. I just couldn’t seem to shake it, so my to-do list sat there without any glorious, thick black lines marking it up. I watched the clock speed through every minute feeling more frustrated and inadequate by the second. That’s when Drew walked through the door to grab lunch.
He noticed my foul mood (I wasn’t hiding it very well), could sense my anxiety, and timidly asked me, “Have you spent time with God?” Not an accusatory question by any means. In fact, the answer to that question is usually the barometer for my emotions. He asked in such a way that would typically prompt me to drop everything and refocus. Only this time, I had. “I have spent time with God. And that’s the problem,” I shot back at him. His face could have been comical if I was receptive to funny things. It was absurd to think that spending time with God was the reason behind my anxiety and frustration. But at that moment, I genuinely believed that by spending time with God, I had put a target on my back. The enemy had opened fire and I was feeling defeated.
Does it ever feel that way to you? You do the right thing, you make the right choice, you walk in obedience, you put on the armor, but you’re still in the battle. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t make life easier the way we hoped it would. I wasn’t mad at God. I’ve been here before. The more closely I walk with God, the more obedient I am to Him, the greater threat I am to the enemy. In some ways, I am concerned if I don’t feel a bit under attack. The enemy doesn’t bother with complacent Christians. But he sure was bothering me on that Tuesday. And I wasn’t fighting back very diligently. Isn’t that ironic? My last post, about a week prior to this particular Tuesday, was all about pushing back against the enemy’s lies with Scripture. I knew what to do, I just wasn’t doing it.
As Drew and I talked about this, he pulled out his phone, opened his Bible app and read Philippians 4:8. And then he said, “tell me something that’s true.”
I couldn’t believe it. Because a few days before this conversation, I wrote week 2 for the Quiet Time Guide. I suggested we should build our own “whatever list.” To give specific names to the things we should think about according to Philippians 4:8. Drew did not know this.
Without saying anything about this part in the Quiet Time Guide, I took a breath and told him something that was true. (I was actually still feeling a little snarky, so I said, “Today is Tuesday.” But then I started taking it more seriously and it was amazing how my attitude began to shift.) We walked through that entire verse and Drew told me to think about those things so the enemy wouldn’t have a foothold. (I know, he’s such a good man!)
When Scripture, themes, or words of encouragement seem to repeat in our lives, we should lean in. Clearly, God is trying to get our attention, trying to teach us something. God was showing me that if I was going to suggest other people reflect on His Word in this way, I needed to, first. It was another reminder that thinking on the things of God mattered. It mattered in my spiritual walk and it also mattered to my family.
That particular practice of giving specific names to things that are excellent, true, and praiseworthy has great value. It helps us make Scripture personal and gives us a better understanding of the things we are meant to think about. When we are dwelling on things that are lovely and pure, true and honorable, our attitude and our outlook change for the better. It can fend off the enemy, place a guard around our hearts, and refocus our minds. Those thoughts help ground us when we feel chaotic, and offer hope when we feel hopeless.
So I challenge you to build your “whatever list” today. Let it play on repeat in the corners of your mind.
Whatever is true. Whatever is Honorable. Whatever is Just. Whatever is Pure. Whatever is Lovely. Whatever is Commendable. Whatever is Excellent. Whatever is Worthy of Praise. Think about these things.
Here’s how I’m building my list today:
What’s True? God is with me.
What’s honorable? Selflessness.
What’s just? Mosquitoes die in the cold. (If there is something more just than that, I don’t know it!)
What’s pure? God’s love.
What’s lovely? Colorful trees.
What’s commendable? Doing hard things.
What’s excellent? A hot cup of coffee.
What’s worthy of praise? Second chances.
God is with me. Acts of selflessness. Dying mosquitoes. God’s unfailing love. Brightly colored trees. Doing hard things. Hot, creamy coffee. The gift of a second chance. Those are the things I will think about today. Those are the things that make me smile, and push me gently towards Jesus.
Take that, Satan.
What’s on your list today? I’d love to hear it!