I will never be King of the World. I’m no fool! Jack Dawson was aboard the Titanic when he made that ill-fated boast, and he was clearly out of touch with reality. I do have this ambition to be master of the universe, however. Not the intergalactic universe, or anything that cosmic! I want to master the mental universe where I live and think.
A lot of people never consider this, but it’s a fact: your thought life determines victories and defeats, joys and disappointments, sorrow and serenity. Your eyes allow you to see what’s happening in the world and your fingers allow you to touch it, but all those impulses and sensations are processed deep inside your brain. The only real difference between grinning optimists and bitter pessimists is found in their heads, not their circumstances. Did you ever read the online reviews for one of your favorite restaurants and wonder where all those critical one-star polemics come from? They erupted from people who respond to reality in essentially negative ways. A server who was slow on refills ruined the entire evening!
Not surprisingly, the Bible offers a lot of wisdom for mastering your thought life. Isaiah 26:3 promises, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Listen to Philippians 2:5 – “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Then there is Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Those are all great nuggets of truth for meditation and application.
As master of my mental universe, I control the borders- what comes in; what goes out. In my own life, I have learned to avoid news broadcasts most of the time in favor of filling my head with ideas that are good, true, inspiring. When a popular TV or movie raises one red flag in my mind, I begin to watch more cautiously. When it raises two red flags, I turn something off. It’s a simple thing to un-follow Facebook friends who habitually post downers about career or politics. I have also discovered that quality times of prayer with the Lord can correct emotions when they drift toward depression, disappointment or defeat. And some thoughts I simply refuse to reinforce by mentioning them aloud.
This is not about living in denial. There are decisive moments when you have to ponder your problems, confront bad news, or rescue friends facing hard facts of life. But you don’t have to dwell on the slings and arrows of life 24/7. Note to ‘realists’: If you’ve already forgotten Philippians 4:8, read it again.
You will find other secrets and practices that work for you. But what’s important is that we make those discoveries and cultivate self-discipline in our thought lives. A familiar slogan reminds us that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. That’s because what happens with your life depends in large part on what happens in your brain. Seize the day!
And lift up the cross!