Week 2 • Day 1 • Renewal Devotional

Subscribe to the Podcast: Apple PodcastsSpotify

The Mind: What are you thinking about? 
“Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

It was a bad month. Bank account was low. No savings. Crazy debt on our credit cards. My husband Rob and I had been doggy paddling our heads above water for years. It was exhausting work, but we could still breathe and since we were breathing, our hope floated along with us.

Until the day I got the text. We had been leasing our home. Then, out of the blue, the owner wanted to sell. We had to be out by the end of our lease … in two weeks. Moving is expensive. It requires cash. We didn’t have it. With two baby girls in tow, we needed a miracle. After a good cry, I gave it all to God and chose to trust Him. Through a series of little miracles, we were able to move into a beautiful new home. Small, but perfect.

We were still dead broke, but what else was new? We were happy.

After a few months, Nebraska experienced rain and snow melt unprecedented in our state. Our lower level, half of our living space, flooded and our insurance wouldn’t cover the $15,000 worth of damage. I had a full blown, everyone run for your lives, meltdown. This is the same woman, who just a few months prior, had trusted God and experienced several incredible miracles as a result. And I had simply forgotten all that, I guess?

My mind leapt into a triple lux of doom and gloom. A tight spiral of every possible negative emotion came through my mind like a freight train. Once one apocalyptic thought got off, another one got on. Financial collapse, self-pity, mold, death, bills, fear. I raged against my fat thighs, unwashed sheets and family members sitting around “while I have to do everything around here!” Every slight, every injustice, every pain, every bone to pick – came bubbling to the surface, flooding each crevice of my mind.

Our thoughts have such extreme power over our lives, it’s a little scary that we don’t realize that more often. We think we’re suffering because of our circumstances, when far more often we’re suffering because we allowed our minds to run amok, completely unchecked. Faithless and fear filled.

Because my mind was so consumed with negativity, stress oozed from my pours, it took over my personality. Once a joyous, funny person, I was dark and mean, short tempered, stirring tomato sauce with attitude, splashing it all over, then cleaning it up bitterly with a towel.

It wasn’t long until I noticed mold growing behind a utility closet. My mind went straight towards an empty bank account and exhausted credit cards – then, naturally, black mold death for my entire family. My dad is a homebuilder, so I called him, seeking his advice. He was growing tired of my panicked, impatient, non-stop calls and I didn’t like his tone. We got in a huge fight, and after I threw my phone across the room, I had a meltdown that would make an evil dictator blush. My body shook, my stomach swirled and I grew weak and fatigued as if I had the flu.

My husband sent me to bed, where I hid so my girls didn’t have to see me that way. I sobbed into my pillow. Having no money, in a crisis, broke my heart and made me crazed. Completely depleted of my own strength, I was finally ready to surrender it all to God, mostly because I didn’t have a choice. If only He had been my first resort instead of my last, I could have been at peace instead of anguishing in pain.

The next morning, a man rang our doorbell. Through all the chaos, we had forgotten we’d scheduled an appointment to have our gutters cleaned to prevent further flooding on rainy days. The man hooked up a hose on the side of the house and went about his business. That evening, my husband and I heard the continuous sound of running water. We ran downstairs and noticed water rising from the floor. Rob rushed outside and found the spigot outside had broken, as water rushed down the side of our house, flooding our basement.

Again.

Sounds bad, I know. But it was a miracle in disguise. Because the flood was the result of a broken spigot, the flooding – all the flooding – was covered by our home insurance. Within a week, crews came in to make my home brand new again.

I was so shocked by this miracle, it shook my spirit loose. Heaven opened up in a playful “I told you so!” kind of way. All of the suffering I allowed into my mind, my body and my home – was for nothing! I could have been happy during that time of crisis – anxiously anticipating God’s provision. I could have been at peace. Screaming and crying or laughing and relaxing made no difference – I still had the same result. So why not pick laughter? I made a commitment to myself, and to God, that I would never lose control of my mind like that again. And simply trust Him.

Which was good, because the floods weren’t done with us yet. A month later, due to ice clogged pipes underground and massive melting snow, we experienced another flood. As water started to trickle in through our basement door, and then begin to rush in all over our brand new floors, I did the unthinkable.

I refused to panic.

Rob did, a little. But I was cool as a cucumber.

I chose to think differently. Remember – what God did for us last time, he can do again. Then I prayed and gave it all a positive spin. This will be good exercise and help me really clean up the floors!

Rob and I immediately got to work. We labored all night to stop the water from coming in and prevented more damage. I cleaned and mopped, and set up fans to dry the base boards. Rob worked outside, scooping up buckets of water and flinging it away from the door. At around 5 AM, after we had tamed the beast, we crawled to bed. I woke a few hours later with our girls. Exhausted, but oddly happy. I chose to party.

“Why don’t we go to the store and get some pizzas and cake to celebrate?”

“Is it your birthday?” my youngest asked me.

“Nope! We’re gonna celebrate because last night we had another flood, but Daddy and I stopped it from doing any damage. And now the basement is sparkling clean! Let’s celebrate how much God loves us and takes care of us!” They looked at me like I was a real freak, but they were willing to look past it for pizza and cake.

When we got home from the store, Rob groggily made his way out of bed and into the kitchen. His eyes lit up at the scene – boxes of his favorite pizza, a beautifully displayed cake – and a vase of flowers. He loaded up a plate, so starved and so happy. We laughed together and ate good food. It was the perfect day, I’ll never forget it.

2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “Set your mind to things above, not on things of this earth.”

This world thinks about fear, a lot. It thinks mean things about other people. It thinks it’s a victim so often, it’s laughable. It’s hopeless, resentful and bitter.

But what the world fails to realize is that we experience life through our mind and our mind creates our reality. And as Christians, we know that we are loved by a God who wants us to discipline our minds, trust Him, and live at peace so we don’t create more self-induced suffering in our lives.

Yes, sometimes we’ll experience great loss and tragedy – and those moments need to be properly grieved for a long while. But most of the time we’re simply experiencing an imperfect life, filled with challenges, ups and downs. We get to choose to be happy, anyway. We can make an incredibly stressful situation into a joyous occasion we won’t ever forget.

And it’s simple. Too simple. We just renew our minds by setting them to things above.

Does that feel like a platitude? Try this: when your mind is spiraling, you can say “God, this is hard and I hate feeling afraid/angry/rejected etc. I’m so thankful that you promised to work all things for my good (Romans 8:28). What can I do right now to bring joy into my life and to those around me?”

Miraculously, things will start looking up, even if it’s just in your mind at first – I’d bet my brand new basement on it. As I set my mind above, my mood becomes lighter. Happier. I start to get good ideas and I get the energy to implement them. My joy becomes infectious and then all the sudden – I’m laughing and eating cake in the midst of a “crisis.”

Not too bad, if you think about it.

I guess the question I have for you is, what are you thinking about? The answer to that question is more important than you think.