Batten Down the Hatches of Your Mind
from Virtuous Daughters, June 2011~Volume 11, Number 3
“Storm’s brewing, Sir!” The lookout cried from above. “Nor ‘easter. She’s going to be a bad ‘un!”
“Aye!” the captain replied. The wind was already picking up. He could tell the lookout was right. “All hands to yer stations!” he cried. “Batten down the hatches, if you please!”
“Aye, sir!” The hands scrambled to nail down the openings. If water were allowed below, the ship would be in trouble. The captain knew from experience; this storm would produce mighty swells, maybe fifty-footers. The ship would pitch and groan under the force of the water, which would seek the lowest point of the ship. It would seek in vain, though, for the men were hard at work battening down the hatches. However, the captain had another concern.
“Look sharp, man!” he called to the lookout. “Lash yourself to the mast. We’re in enemy waters . . .”
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by temptation? Have thoughts ever bombarded you that you know are wrong? We are commanded in Scripture to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I’ve often wondered just how to do that. I believe the imagination is a God-created tool that can be used for good or evil. It is a system that must be brought to the obedience of Christ. I’ve tried imaging taking thoughts as prisoners, and bringing them before Christ, as one way I can take thoughts captive.
But lately, I’ve had another idea. Somewhere I read about a man who had a problem. His brain operated in such a way that he was overwhelmed with too many thoughts at once, and he had to develop a system to control his thoughts. He would imagine a room with drawers in it, and in his imagination, he would only open certain drawers at a time. This aided him in concentration, and kept him from too many thoughts bombarding him at once.
I thought I would try applying this to temptations that come. I like to imagine that my “room” (i.e. my mind) has several boxes in it. A sinful thought may desire entrance from one of those boxes, into my mind, so I imagine that I am nailing a lid down on top of it. Thus the thought is taken captive, not allowed to have free reign in my mind.
Sometimes you just know that you’re going to have a struggle. Whether it is a situation in which you find yourself, or just a feeling you get, you can tell it’s coming. Perhaps someone in your family is adept at aggravation, or you just feel cross for no good reason. Maybe you feel tempted to be discontent in your circumstances for whatever reason, or you struggle with thoughts that are not pure. Following are some of my favorite verses on the subject of purity: “For this is the will of God even your sanctification, and that ye should abstain from fornication, That every one of you should know, how to possess his vessel in holiness and honor, For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3,4,7)
Don’t be discouraged. Different ones are prone to sin in different areas, but the temptation itself is not sin. God will aid you to escape, and bring you out victorious, if you are willing to obey Him. “There hath no temptation taken you, but such as appertaineth to man: and God is faithful, which will not suffer you to be tempted above that you be able, but will even give the issue with the temptation, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) He has already provided a way out for us. So that means we must simply avail ourselves of the means He has provided.
Being a Christian means that we are yielded wholly to the Lord, so we simply must obey Him in every area, including the things that occupy our minds. The main purpose for keeping our thoughts pure and holy should not be benefit for ourselves, though that is definitely a byproduct of obedience, but rather our purpose should be to glorify God. That is why we are here, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. When you have this focus as you resist temptations, it truly gives you a whole new perspective. It is not for ourselves that we struggle, but on account of our great Captain, Who is right there with us. He is the victorious Christ! Can you imagine the pride one would feel to serve under some of the great leaders of our nation’s past, like Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, or George Washington? Well, we should be more proud to serve our Commander, Jesus Christ, Who not only is a wonderful leader in every way, but He cared so much for us, that He died in our place! Wow! He paid a great price; let’s not esteem it lightly. “Know ye not, that your body is the temple of the holy Ghost, which is in you, whom ye have of God? And ye are not your own. For ye are bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit: for they are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
Don’t allow yourself to think that you just can’t do it. Christ has paid for the victory already, so don’t desert the contest by your weakness. “And you which were dead in sins, and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, forgiving you all your trespasses. And putting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, He even took it out of the way, and fastened it upon the cross, And hath spoiled the Principalities, and Powers, and hath made a show of them openly, and hath triumphed over them in the same cross” (Colossians 2:13–15)
Christ has already won the final victory; however, be prepared to resist the onslaughts of the enemy. Satan knows the potential of a pure-minded Christian, and he doesn’t like what he sees. It’s easy to forget about the enemy, when we are looking at our own sins and failures, but he is ready to capitalize on his opportunities. He uses our lusts to draw us into sin if we let him. “Be sober, and watch: for your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8–9 Also see James 1:12–17.) It is encouraging to know that all Christians have struggles with temptations. God uses these to test and strengthen us. As we resist temptation, we mature in Christ.
Another thing that can be very helpful is, when I am tempted in my thought life, or really, in any area, just to say, “Lord, You are my Lord; I will obey You.” That doesn’t leave many options in the contest. I really need to do that more often!
So back to the hatch metaphor. You might try imagining yourself below decks in an eighteenth-century ship of the line, with the hatches sealed to the mighty waves above you. This would help to free your mind to think about something else, quote Scripture, and pray. The next time you know a storm is coming, grab your hammer. You wouldn’t want your ship to get swamped.
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