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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Alert and thinking straight

I don't always think straight - how about you?  There are times when my emotions overrule my intelligence and I just plunge right into things I should have left undone or unsaid. In a flash in time, the reasonableness of my decisions isn't even a concern in my mind because I am responding out of feeling rather than intellect or reason.  It happens to the best of us and it brings us into things which are harder to get out of than they were to get into!  It isn't by accident that scripture links "being alert" with "thinking straight".  When we are alert, all senses are standing at attention.  We are paying attention because all our senses are united in action.  This isn't the best way to overcome responding to only feelings - to be "on alert" in the realm of our senses alone often leads to us relying upon feelings even more.  We need to learn what scripture means when it says to be alert and think straight.

Be alert and think straight. Put all your hope in how kind God will be to you when Jesus Christ appears. Behave like obedient children. Don’t let your lives be controlled by your desires, as they used to be. Always live as God’s holy people should, because God is the one who chose you, and he is holy. That’s why the Scriptures say, “I am the holy God, and you must be holy too.”  (I Peter 1:13-16 CEV)

If you have ever been awakened out of a dream, then laid there for a while in the dark trying to figure out if that was real or not, then you might just be able to understand what I will say next.  When we move from relying upon what we can experience with our senses into the balance of running those sense-input factors through our intellect and sense of reason, we often find what we are experiencing in our senses is removed from what is true reality.  As with the dream, we might awaken with a start because of the dream, but when we stop to allow our senses to settle down a little, we find the reality of what we experienced in the dream wasn't real at all.  Our senses were on alert, but we needed to balance them out with our "straight thinking".

Senses alone are not going to guide our actions in the right direction.  We sense a lot of things which if responded to would send us down many a wrong path.  For example, I have mosquitoes in my area and there are times I see them flying in the house - like when they buzz across the TV screen, alerting me to their presence.  After I see them, what is it that I "sense" all night long?  You got it - I find myself swatting at every little twinge of my skin and brush of air over my exposed arms and legs!  No mosquito is in sight at that moment - the power of what I saw continues to set my senses on edge and I am responding to my senses, not what is reality.  The mosquito is safe and secure in some dark recess of my home, lurking there until I go to sleep - then it will attack!  While I am on alert, it doesn't come near me!

Lots of things have the potential to put us "on alert" in life, but if we are always just on "high alert", we will become confused by the input we are receiving.  We need balance between being "alert" and thinking rationally and obediently.  What puts us "on alert" is probably "sensed" in some way or another - those senses may or may not be "reasonable".  We need to run them past God to be sure. The moment in time it takes to ask God if they are real and to be trusted may save us a whole lot of misery and unnecessary activity in our lives!

Living by desire isn't always bad when the desire is pure, holy, and right for us.  Living by desire when it is unreasonable, self-seeking, or downright determined to be "bad" for us is something we need to avoid at all cost.  As we came into this relationship with Christ, the most important person in our lives was us.  We focused on what brought pleasure to us. We responded to what we sensed to be okay for us.  We didn't think outside of us very often because we were the center of our universe.  As we came into relationship with Christ, that "center" changed to him.  Our focus changed from us to him.  That fact may take us a little while to "catch up" with when it comes to our senses, though.  They are still teased by the things we pursued when we were apart from Christ and want us to respond to them as we used to before this change in focus.

As God gives us the mind of Christ in all matters, we will begin to balance out what we "sense" to be worthy of our attention with what is "declared" to be worthy.  In other words, we don't just respond because our senses are on alert and we "feel" the desire.  We run that desire through the mind of Christ, sorting it out as worthy of our response or not.  God helps us "think straight" - giving us the wisdom to avoid responses to the things we sense, but which no longer "make sense" for us to pursue, put our hope in, or look to as something which will fulfill us.  Yes, we need to be on "high alert" to the things which are subtle "pulls" in our lives which will get us off-center, but we need to be sure we are also alert to what is real, trustworthy, and perfect for our lives, as well.  Obedience is achieved by both being alert and thinking straight.  Just sayin!