Again, I am on a journey. This is different in some ways from the journey I called a quest, but it still impacts me emotionally, rationally and spiritually. I think this is a good thing, but I sense some rough road ahead of me.
Any journey we embark on, needs to have preparation. But there are times when we are thrust out into uncharted territory without having a lot of time to prepare. Before that happens, it is wise to prepare for any eventuality that we can imagine. I often hear about people getting emergency preparedness kits in case there is a time when they might not have shelter or food. Some go as far as getting weapons and practicing with them in case they have need to protect themselves and family from attack. But are they ready for a time like that of those in the Middle East who have lost their homes and possessions and are left with nowhere to go but to wander to a strange land with only the clothes on their backs? An emergency preparedness kit might help if it is in a back pack that they can grab and run with. But that is only temporary. It is also only part of the preparation that they need. They will need to find water and purify it. They may need medical supplies, food and tools. But what they will need more than anything else is emotional and spiritual preparedness.
There are some things that I wish I had known when I was young. It would have changed the course of my life. But, the fact is that I did not know those things. More importantly, what I did know did not help as much as I thought it should because it was not experiential knowledge. It was not the kind of knowledge that is imbedded in the part of the heart that still works in an emergency or critical emotional time.
Did you know that when you experience truth during trauma or critical times, you are more likely to be able to respond appropriately in future critical times? But when we don’t experience that truth, we will have inappropriate responses in the future when the subconscious thinks that a critical event is occurring even when it is not. How do you face events that are stressful? Is your first response going to be fear, anxiety, anger, running away, or fighting? Or is your response going to be rational, calculated and even tempered?
I was fascinated when I had the opportunity to see myself on video recently. The first recording was of me setting up a system for video conferencing. I watched that several times because I have not seen a close up of me interacting with people. I first noticed the physical presentation. My thoughts were:
“My head looks like an egg with high cheek bones, swelling from inflammation, scars from traumatic memories. At least the scars are not big. My mouth moved in an odd way. My eyes are strong but too piercing. I see grandpa Kayser in some expressions, and grandma Remington in other expressions. Oh, there is an expression John (my brother) has. That is interesting. I can see from my facial expression and the movement of my eyes that I am trying to figure something out. This is strange looking at me as if I am looking at someone else; just observation, no judgement as to what kind of person they are. Hmmm. Is there kindness in my eyes, or just calculation? Just calculation because I am looking at a computer trying to figure out all the glitches. If this was not me, what would I be trying to figure out about them?”
After about the third time of watching I realized that I was looking to see what that person in the video was really like based on just observation. I realized that if I was just going to base my understanding of the person on only observation, I would really know very little about them. Yet we often do just that to those we meet. We decide fairly quickly what we think they are like and what they are thinking and feeling and what their motives are. From this exercise of watching myself on video, I learned that it takes time to know anything about people and we certainly cannot judge (decide) what they are thinking and feeling or what their motives are. In fact, the scripture tells us that only God knows the motives of the heart and he is the one who really knows our thoughts and feelings. (Prov 16:2; Ps 94:11)
So why am I talking about this? We often do not even know our own thoughts and motives unless we dig deep into our hearts to find those thoughts and motives. In Ps 139:23 David is telling God to search David’s heart to see if there is anything wicked in him. David wanted a pure heart before the Lord and understood that we do not always know our own hearts deep down, but God does. If we are willing to go to the deep places where we have pain and hurts and anger buried, God will meet us there and minister truth into those places. This is the preparation we need for future difficult times. If we prepare now, then we will be able to respond appropriately and quickly when the need arises. Our responses will also be made with the peace and calm of God in our hearts and the future outcomes will be more positive.
In the same way that we practice for accuracy and experiential knowledge for our body to remember how to quickly and easily accomplish tasks during crisis, we also need to make it a lifestyle practice to get our hearts and spirits into experiential memory shape so that we are ready for any crisis that may arise in the future.
The scripture talks about the fact that we will have difficult times. I do not believe that has anything to do with puberty issues or the fact that sometimes people are mean to us. I think it is talking about two things specifically. Those two things are 1) the end times and the suffering that comes with those evil events and 2) persecution both now and in the end times because we are believers in Christ the Lord. If we have anything in our heart’s hidden places that is not yet turned over to Christ to receive His ministry of truth, it will be too difficult to face persecution and do what is right before the Lord. We will default to that place of hurt or unforgiveness in our responses. Those places give a foothold to evil spirits who will make sure we are defeated and we will take down with us as many as we have influenced.
Someone who is licensed with a weapon must practice with their weapon so much that the cells of the body develop memory, enabling healthy defensive tactics when crisis shuts down the reasoning center of the brain. That is what will save their lives. In the same way, if we do what David did and ask God to search the depths of our heart and the hidden places to rout all lies and replace them with truth, and we continue to do that day in and day out every time we react in any way negatively to anything, we will be emotionally and spiritually prepared, even in crisis, to respond automatically in the right way and frame of mind. I know, that was a long sentence. But I am going to leave it the way it is, because it gives the message for us to make it a lifestyle as soldiers of Christ preparing for the battle to come. Our weapon is the mind and that is where the battle is. 1 Peter 1:13 says to prepare our minds. 2 Cor 10:5 says to take every thought captive?
How do we take thoughts captive? By inviting God into those places where the thoughts stir us up the way David did, and allowing God to minister His peace there. That is the process of preparing the mind.
Begin to engage in this practice of submitting every detail, emotion and response to the ministry of the Christ in your heart through the Holy Spirit. It will prepare you for every event in your future spiritually, emotionally and reactively.