The Wilderness is a dangerous place to be. You never know what to expect on any given day. One day you could be facing overgrown pythons in Indonesia, another day could be a hippopotamus when cruising down the Zambezi river or perhaps meeting a grizzly bear somewhere in North America. Not to mention the insects, poison ivy, malaria… You get the picture, right? When you allow every type of thought to nest in your mind, to grow weeds, and saturate you with confusion, doubt, and negativity, you will find yourself being taken over by the wilderness.
The wilderness represents the world. It’s full of unexpected events that render you speechless and often times thoughtless. There are countless people carrying out their evil urges on unsuspecting victims, natural disasters occurring more often than seems ‘natural’, emotional turmoil affecting the masses, money woes pushing individuals to do the unthinkable, immorality keeping a watchful eye on society- the list is endless. It’s a common thing to experience dread, fear of the unknown, depression, anxiety, betrayal, rejection and every other negative leech that exists in this fallen world, but if we would just tame the wilderness and turn it into a beautiful garden, the world will not have the power to control you.
2 Timothy 1: 7 informs us of our disciplined mind. Our spirit is one of love, power, and a sound (disciplined) mind. We have the means to control the thought patterns of our minds, but many of us choose not to. It certainly is not easy to control one’s mind; it may just be one of the most difficult tasks that you will ever do, but it is doable. When there was still enmity between you and the Ancient of Days, you did not see the need to filter your thoughts. Perhaps you followed some teachings of a lifestyle guru or the life lessons of a charismatic leader. These people probably explained the merit of positive thinking, how to focus your thoughts on what you want (think of the Law of Attraction), and how to manifest your dreams into reality. These teachings (although around for centuries), have been termed New Age, which refers to a range of spiritual and religious beliefs with its conception happening around the 1970s. I will burst that New Age bubble and state that none of these teachings can bring you the true peace of GOD that has been made available to all of His saints. Sure enough, you’ll probably access your third eye (aka spiritual eyes) and that will make you feel nearly invincible, reach the highest level of consciousness, or walk around with a reverent expression on your face and chant peace, love, and light wherever you go, but I guarantee you that one substantial life upheaval will have you scrambling around like headless chickens or, worse yet, you will get to the end of your life and realize the futility of it all.
We have a wonderful Mediator that understands our struggles – after all, He walked on this earth for 33 years. He understands the human condition from a firsthand experience- although He lived a life without sin. When He left our midst, He didn’t leave us helpless and alone. He sent the Helper to abide with us forever (John 14:13-18). What we need to understand is that we cannot do anything worthwhile without the Holy Spirit. We cannot live holy lives without Him, we cannot overcome adversity without Him, we cannot stand our ground against the devil without Him, and we cannot become the people GOD called us to be without Him. It stands to reason that we cannot control the wilderness without Him either. No amount of human effort will prune that wilderness into a beautiful garden. It can only be done with the Holy Spirit.
There are three types of thoughts: yours, ones that GOD gives to you and ones that the devil sends to you. People are always surprised to know that the devil can do such a thing. Their first argument is that they have a hedge of protection around them, so surely the devil cannot touch them? Sending a negative thought to you is not touching you. The devil has not afflicted you with some disease, caused financial woes or some other misery. What he has done is sent you a thought to war with you in your mind. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 explains this to us: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in GOD for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of GOD, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
Note how this Scripture talks about making every thought obedient to Christ, and how our war does not take place in the physical realm (the flesh). Have you ever had a thought pop into your head out of nowhere? Perhaps you were concentrating on cooking, but suddenly thoughts of child’s bad behavior pops into your head. You have already disciplined your child and the issue has been resolved, but that thought brings back all the anger and it soon manifests into a shouting match with your child. Sometime later, you’re sitting in bed and wondering how the issue had escalated when you had sorted it out hours before. This is the time to really sit and think about it: GOD did not send you that thought because of the result, and why would you choose to fight with your child over a resolved matter? Who is the one who enjoys dissension, a broken family, poking at tempers and causing all sorts of chaos? That’s right, Satan. He revels in the wilderness of people’s minds- it’s his playing field. He will build strongholds in your mind with which he will use to control you. But do not be discouraged, Beloved, because GOD has given us weapons to pull down those strongholds, but it takes commitment.
The best way to tame the wilderness is to address it according to Scripture. Whenever I come across a thought that I know does not belong to me or the Holy Spirit, I immediately said out loud: “I do not accept the thought of ….., I refuse it in Jesus name, and according to 2 Corinthians 10: 5 I bring it into captivity to the obedience of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Once I have spoken this, I force myself to think of something else such as Scripture, sing songs of praise or think of anything that is beautiful. It’s not enough to rebuke that thought, you have to actively turn the direction of your mind. If you are having difficulty trying to think of something, follow Paul the Apostle’s advice in Philippians 4: 8.
Do not be mistaken: it takes time to change the way that you think. It certainly will not happen overnight and it will not be easy. The devil will not readily give up any strongholds in your mind- you can be sure of that. However, you continue to train your mind and lean on the Holy Spirit, all that wilderness will eventually become a pruned garden. Be careful to not grow lazy though; you will need to regularly remove weeds that have crept up around your flowers, get rid of dead leaves, remove branches that do not bear fruit and trim down hedges that threaten to grow wild. And always remember: you are never alone, GOD is always with you.