During the past two weeks, I have really battled with the side effects of Bell’s palsy. Half of my face has been left paralyzed and I have had sporadic pain, difficulty eating and drinking, eye problems and generally having to try do things differently. Despite all this, my biggest challenge has been to guard against the despondency that threatens to descend on me at times like this. It is a dark cloud waiting to happen. I have to discipline myself to rely on God’s spirit and His word. It’s not always easy – especially when you can’t read properly and your eye remains out of focus. It’s at times like this that passages of the bible, which I have memorized, wash over me…and I am grateful.
About a month ago, our pastor challenged our congregation to memorize Phillipians 4:8. But it appeared that people had difficulty with this challenge. I wondered why. It reads:
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
It’s a long list. But Paul instructs us to “Think about such things…”. Why do we have difficulty remembering the list? The answer is simply because we DON’T ‘think about such things.’!
Never-the-less, I set about finding a way to remember the verse and came up with a tool (which may also help you, dear reader). I set about painting a mental image of symbols representing the various ‘things’ that Paul asks us to think about. Whilst doing this, I realized that if I, indeed, did ‘think about these things.’ There was no space to think about anything else. There simply wasn’t any space in my mind for despondency to creep in.
So, today, I’d like to try and share my own mental picture of the ‘things’ which Paul asks us to think about. They are simple drawings, but perhaps it will help you too? Perhaps you’d like to consider sketching your own, personal mental picture of the ‘things’ Paul asks us to think about?
1. WHATEVER IS TRUE: In my mind, TRUTH is represented by the Cross of Christ. Not only is it a ‘T’ for TRUTH, but in the cross, all theTRUTH of the world is revealed; God’s plan for mankind and the redemption of his flock through His Son’s act on the cross all those years ago. This is truth...think about it!
2. WHATEVER IS NOBLE: When I think about NOBILITY, I think about God. We just have to think about all the Biblical descriptions of our Lord – His majesty, His all-knowingness, His glory, His beauty, His judgement, His mercy and forgiveness…the list goes on and on. The fact that the world has been created by Him and that we are in the palm of His hands makes us understand our position. In my picture, I have a hand coming from the heavens reaching down to the cross.
3. WHATEVER IS RIGHT: In my picture, I represent ‘RIGHT’ with a ‘tick’ at the foot of the cross. This represents everything that stands for what is right. Jesus spells this out in the Sermon on the mount. His Spirit in us also ministers to us as to what is ‘RIGHT’ and what leads to RIGHTEOUSNESS.
4. WHATEVER IS PURE: PURITY again, is at the foot of the Cross – in this case represented by the Mother of Jesus and the virgin birth. It is also at the foot of the cross that we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus…and made pure.
5. WHATEVER IS LOVELY: If we look out from the hill where the cross stands – away from ourselves – we look over Gods creation and His anointed people. It is beautiful. It is LOVELY!
6. WHATEVER IS ADMIRABLE: Again, looking out from the cross to the road leading to the cross, we see many things that are ADMIRABLE, and we can ‘think about them’. In my case, I admire Simon of Cyrene (and many others) who carried the cross of Jesus . But we can ADMIRE many things – those people who have contributed to the wonderful story of God and the world.
7. IF ANYTHING IS EXCELLENT OR PRAISEWORTHY: At the top of the road leading to the cross is the WORD OF GOD – the BIBLE! Through the painstaking work of the saints and the people of God, the Bible’s message has been preserved over the years and brought to us. People preach it, write about it, study it, meditate on it…and internalise the wonderful messages which are brought to us in its writings. This is definitely EXCELLENT AND PRAISEWORTHY - worthy to be thought about!
So, if we meditate and ‘THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS’ as in the Philippians verse, there is no more space for negative thoughts to enter our minds. It truly is a beautiful tool and I would encourage you to draw a picture of your own – with symbols in it to represent these THINGS which we should be thinking about
Sending lots of love and prayers for you,