Lately, God has been bringing to my mind the importance of being INTENTIONAL in the daily, moment by moment choices that I make; for even seemingly insignificant decisions will lead me either a step away from or a step closer to my Lord and Savior. It is pretty easy to go to church on Sunday, have devotions daily, even serve regularly, and to carry on with daily life choices pretty much as a non-believer would, making decisions based on nothing more than what I feel like doing, watching, reading, saying . . . However, living hourly with my eyes on Christ, calls for much more and brings to my life a much richer harvest.
One of the first things I do in the mornings this time of year is to go outside and up the hill to water our vegetable garden. In the spring, I plant flowers mixed in with the veggies to add extra beauty; I enjoy praying in the garden as I water and weed. I have learned that yielding a healthy bountiful crop requires not only purposeful planning and work, but it also requires being deliberate and diligent. If I get lazy and skip a few days of watering or a week of weeding, the vegetables and flowers I desire to cultivate are quickly wilted and/or over-run with weeds. I must purposefully water and weed, or the garden speedily deteriorates. Instead of healthy tomatoes, onions, and zinnias, I will have a tangle of dead vines overrun with thistles.
Just as important for a good yield, is the task of guarding the gate to the garden. I am the one who decides who or what I allow to enter. I won't open the gate and invite in the deer, as they would bring disastrous results to the yield. For plants to grow well and prosper, one must begin with the end in mind and the garden must be well cared for and protected.
Thus, it is with my soul; it also must be nurtured and safeguarded. I must begin each day with the end in mind, that of purposefully living a life which is pleasing to God, one that will bear much spiritual fruit. If I do not plant and regularly water my heart and mind with God’s word, encouraging thoughts, high ideals, lovely music,inspiring films, stunning art, and books that challenge and motivate me; then the world’s philosophies, concepts, and images will slip in like weeds, sometimes without my realizing it. For whatever I feed in my mind WILL grow. If I do not weed out the ugly, violent, evil things in life that I have control over, they will put down roots and take over a space in my heart and soul.
Galatians 6:7-8 says: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Consequently, does it matter what images, music, movies, and books I allow into my inner world, my own personal garden of the mind? Yes! Hence, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Our family is very intentional in guarding Emma’s little heart and mind and in planting good into the soil of her spirit, just as we were with Erin and Ryan. We read her Bible stories and beautiful children’s books, put on lovely music, and take her for nature walks. We want her to grow up to love the things that are good and hate the things that are evil. This is a prayer that I have prayed often over my children, and now grandchildren.
I would not dream of opening the door/gate and allowing, much less inviting, anything evil and ugly into my home/garden. Yet sometimes I find that I have actually invited negative influences in. Last Friday evening, I rather absent-mindedly sat and watched a few prime-time shows on television with Martin. Afterwards, I felt a darkness and heaviness and I sensed the Lord whispering that He had better for me. I plan to pay better attention, be more mindful, and with God’s grace, more intentional in how I use my time.
I am the gate-keeper of my mind and of my home. I choose what I allow in. I can plan ahead for a wholesome option or change the channel if need be. With that said, I endeavor to keep evil thoughts, words, pictures, and movies out, and to fill the garden of my mind and my domain with that which is virtuous, respectable, and valuable. I do not want to be ashamed for Christ Himself to join me at any moment of the day or night, especially since He has told me that He IS with me always (Matthew 28:20).
I appreciate this quote from CS Lewis:
I very much desire for my inner world to be lovely, clean, and bright. May each of us, through our daily decisions, intentionally plant good seeds, keep them watered, get rid of the weeds, and yield a harvest of goodness in our soul which brings honor and glory to God!