How, former procrastinators, can we not think about the bait the tempter or self puts out for us? Two illustrations show us exactly how.
Our pastor held up an apple. “Don’t think about this apple. Don’t think about it. This apple – don’t think about it. Don’t think about the apple.” What were we thinking about? The apple, of course.
Then he said, “Let me tell you about my grandmother’s peach pie. It was delicious. The crust was flaky, the peaches were juicy. The memory makes my mouth water.” What were we thinking about? The peach pie.
When we focus on not thinking about something, we are doing exactly that – thinking about it. We’re naming it. We’re entertaining thoughts of what it offers. “Don’t think about skipping that meeting today. Don’t think about how good it would feel to eat lunch in the park instead. Don’t think about the relief it would be to not have that project on my mind for 20 minutes.” That’s thinking about it.
Serve yourself some peach pie instead. “I’m gathering my papers so I’ll be ready to leave in time for the meeting. I’m going over how to best give my input. I’m giving my all to this project right now.”
In a similar illustration, Mary Fawcett asked me the best way to clean out a dirty bucket. What would you say? I said dump it out, wipe it out. She said, “The best way is to stick a hose in it and turn the water on to flush it out.” She said that’s how we should clean our minds – by filling them with the Word of God, not focusing on the bad stuff to get rid of, but pumping in the good. Likewise with temptation, turn on the hose of what we should think about which floods out the tempting thoughts. Focus on the peach pie.
Is it time to clean the closet? Set a timer, gather the trash bags, go there. No thinking how good it would feel to stretch out on the sofa. Is it time to take a nap? Lie down and close your eyes. Enjoy the peace. No thinking about the closet.
This is a tool that helps us exercise self-control and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.
Think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy knowing you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:8,13)
What “peach pie” can you substitute for “apple thinking” today?