It’s 4:30 am again, and I’ve been awaken yet again from my precious sleep for no apparent reason at all. I confess to you that it’s in these early morning wake up times that I struggle most with anger and bitterness.
As a child I attended Christian school. It was there that I was “forced” to memorize Scripture. I was required to memorize the entire book of Philippians, James, Hebrews 11, many passages in the Corinthians, Matthew, Ephesians, Psalms, Proverbs and Genesis. God blessed me with an incredible mind, but I hated Bible memory. It wasn’t that I hated God or His precious Word. It was that I hated the actual act and exercise of memorizing.
My parents sacrificed and invested a lot of money for me to go to Horseheads Christian Academy in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, Tioga Center Christian School halfway through 2nd-7th grades and then Ross Corners Christian Academy in 8th-12th grades. Though I could brief you on several perceived "failures" of Christian schools, my Christian education is the single most valuable training I could have had including my Masters Degree in Accounting. I cannot believe the amount of Scripture God has brought back to my mind. This morning as bitterness crept up, the verse in Corinthians that says, “Take every thought captive” came to mind. Often this verse is used for sins like lust. But it has applied to me more for bitterness and blame.
When a thought of direct anger at God appears, I challenge the thought. I take it captive. Is that thought from God or is the devil trying to defeat me in my own mind? If a though like, “Do You even exist? If You exist, how could you allow this to happen to my son?” If a thought such as “If I would have just….he’d still be here,” comes to mind, I take it captive. I know that my God is Holy. Those thoughts are not Holy. So I cast them from my mind. I don’t have room in my temple for both good and bad thoughts. Rather than leaving my mind empty for another bad thought to enter, I fill my mind with attributes of God. I fill it with thoughts like God is love. Jesus wants a relationship with me. I can cry “Abba.” The call of sharing with others about the Cross. The gifts God gives to Christians. His law written on my heart. The fruit of the spirit. I also fill my mind with edifying music, mainly for me lately it's been Chris Tomlin and Jeremy Camp.
I’m just a rookie at this grief stuff, but so far this strategy is working out for me. May I give you a word of advice (or two words)? Memorize Scipture. God will bring it back to mind in the most perfect and applicable way in both good and bad times throughout your life. Thanks, Mom and Dad for my Christian education. Thanks to my educators for investing your time to train me in the way I should go.