Have you ever tried to simply sit down, pray and think about God without any distractions floating through your mind? How has it worked out for you? I can tell you that I get maybe through a couple of minutes before I catch my mind wandering down whatever path it feels like following. I try again and off my mind goes wandering off again, and again and again. It reminds me of watching my dogs sitting in the yard, they’re sitting their quiet for a moment or two, then a bird chirps, a car drives by, a leaf falls and their heads keep whipping around every few seconds and off they go again. But this difficulty to sit still and be quiet for a few minutes and focus on my Savior without my mind chasing after every leaf that falls makes you feel like you’re a little bit crazy, at least like your brain is crazy and it can’t focus on anything, especially things that matter, for long.
As Christians what we desire is to capture every thought, every inclination, every desire and to place it underneath the Lordship of Jesus seated on the throne of my heart. But that’s a hard thing to do when you’re brain is acting crazy and can’t settle down! I was having this exact same conversation with a pastor friend of mine in New England and he was running into the same problem (no surprise, this happen to all of us!) and he told me that at a point in his life when he was about ready to give up on this whole prayer thing that his mentor shared with him that each time his mind goes wandering off and seems like it is incapable of focusing on Jesus, that is another opportunity to bring it back to Jesus, hear His words of forgiveness, experience His grace. Then renewed and strengthened go back into the struggle with his brain once again to bring all things underneath the Lordship of Jesus.
Every wandering was an opportunity for grace! Not that he wandered on purpose in order to experience grace, but it was a different way of thinking about it. Either you could despair, throw in the towel and say I simply can’t do it and lose out on a huge part of the Christian life or see every wandering as another opportunity for God’s grace to enter in and renew and strengthen. It is when we struggle and realize we can’t on our own that grace tastes so very sweet but when we don’t try at all, grace actually begins to lose it’s flavor and power in our life.
Bringing every thought and inclination underneath the Lordship of our God seems impossible, but as Jesus taught us when asked: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength;” it is actually the most important thing. It is as Pastor Paul teaches us today in Ephesians 3 that by Christ dwelling in your hearts through faith, you can experience the fullness of God and know the width, length, height and depth of His love that has no bounds. What is it that brings our hearts the most joy then knowing the love of God and even when it feels like bringing all things underneath His Lordship is impossible, in reality it is simply more and more opportunities to feel His grace in our lives.
This joyful adventure in the Christian life of bringing all things underneath the Lordship of Jesus, who sits on the throne of our hearts, includes the thoughts of our mind, the desires of our hearts and the work of our hands. Think about each aspect of the work of your hands: work, hobbies, careers, interests, moving pictures of every variety (screens, texting, internet, movies), books you read, images and people you allow your eyes to linger upon, things you put in your body. We could spend all day listing all of these things, and it would make us feel like we’ve gone crazy as well. Because we realize that we are not serving just one Lord upon the throne of our heart, but many, many lords and gods in our everyday life. Is it any wonder that so many times we feel torn and pulled in every direction, because we are, not only with all of the different lords and gods competing for our time but also all of the spiritual forces behind them trying to pull away our soul from our God. We wonder why our spiritual life is suffering, why our prayer life is unfocused, why our desire to meet together in worship falters, it is because we are not serving one Lord and God, Jesus upon the throne, but many, many lords and gods all trying to pull us away from Jesus. Like my dogs chasing after every sound that they hear and every leaf that falls to the ground.
There may be many lords and gods out there but hear O Christian, the Lord your God, the Lord is one, not many, and the joys of salvation are found only in Him, so you can experience in ever greater ways the unending breadth of the love of God. Bringing every aspect of our lives underneath the Lordship of Jesus seems impossible but remember every wandering is an opportunity for grace! Knowing the love of God in Jesus is what brings our hearts the most joy and even when it feels like bringing all things underneath His Lordship is impossible, in reality it is simply more and more opportunities to feel His grace in our lives. Amen.