The Bare Soul - May 27, 2012
Steadfastness of Mind

Isaiah 26:3 - The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.

Recently, I was counseling and praying with an individual fraught with anxiety over a variety of things. Most of all, relationships within their respective family which they could not fix. I listened to this person for some time and then I asked, "Are you the oldest sibling in your family?" They replied, "Why yes ... how did you know?" I told them it doesn't take a "word of knowledge" to understand how the oldest child will often try to fix everyone in their family. It doesn't matter their age. They can carry this trait well into adulthood. Often, older generations, such as those who grew up pre- and post World War II came from larger families where the older children often did as much child rearing as the parents. Care giving life scripts such as these are often deeply ingrained in the mind and heart of oldest siblings. This can be a good thing if we know what to do with these concerns. However, these can be equally destructive if we do not know where to turn for help when relationships become uncontrollable.

From the Gospels, we know how Jesus taught we cannot control or fix anyone. These sort of things are well beyond our scope of power as mere mortals. However, Jesus does tell us to come to Him, giving Him our burdens and anxieties and He will give us rest. (Matthew 11:28) How hard it is to come to the Lord when we do not have our gaze fixed upon Him to do so! As long as we are fixed on fixing others without God's help, then we cannot be fixed on Jesus. Only as we look to the Lord is there hope -- first for ourselves and then for others. It only makes spiritual sense how we will be of most help to others when we ourselves are first transformed by Jesus Christ. As our lead verse states, steadfastness of mind is the guarantee of perfect peace. To the degree we can stay our minds upon the Lord, to that degree we will know peace. The mind, in this instance, is nothing less than our spiritual eyes and how we choose to align ourselves. If we seek to muddle through solutions in our mind's eye, then we will reinforce self to always seek a solution outside of God. However, if when we are presented with daily problems and we immediately say to ourselves, "Lord, I am not going to worry about this but surrender it to You," then we allow God to renew our minds and transform our hearts according to the "life script" He desires to write in our regard. (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24) To illustrate the difference regarding trying to solve problems on our own and surrendering them to God, we may say it is the difference between death and life. On one hand, we fail when we try to do things in our power. Failure is a type of death. However, when we look toward God, there is always success because God will always succeed. A good example of this is Jesus' reference in John chapter three when He compares His sacrifice to another symbolic act 1200 years earlier: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life." (John 3:14-15) Let us compare the similarities between these two accounts.

The bronze serpent which Jesus referred to was an early typology of the saving power of the cross and the resurrection. The children of Israel, because of their murmuring and complaining, were beset with fiery serpents who were killing many of the Israelites due to their unbelief. God instructed Moses to fashion a bronze serpent and to affix it to a pole normally used to lift up a flag or a banner. In doing so, when bitten, the Hebrews could look toward this symbol of salvation and be cured of their venomous bite. We read the following in the book of Numbers: "And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived." (Numbers 21:9) In the third chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus was telling Nicodemus (in context with His message on being born again) that in order to be saved we must look to God. The human condition which is beset with sin will keep a steadfast mind on things of self, thereby creating angst, worry, anxiety and dread. These, beloved, draw us into a place of spiritual death. However, as God was typifying in the book of Numbers and Jesus was comparing Himself to in the book of John, when we look toward Him then we live and we acquire His peace.

Steadfastness of mind does not occur easily. We must continue to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5) However, when we learn not to reinforce our flesh by allowing it to keep our minds on ourselves and our problems, then surrender to Christ becomes a freeing experience that gives us great relief. Once we realize that coveting solutions born in our own minds is nothing less than idolatry, then we will more easily relinquish the power we once tried so desperately to use to give ourselves and others peace. True peace only comes through total surrender. It is not an abeyance to evil, but an alliance with the One who can vanquish the evil of self forever. May we all look to the Standard, Jesus Christ the Almighty. For only in Him is there salvation from self.

Father in heaven, thank You for the peace, the very shalom of God, which You desire for us all to live in everyday. May we keep our minds steadfastly on You, for there truly is salvation in no other. May we die to fixing ourselves and others, and continue to fix our gaze upon You and Your salvation. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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