Dec. 29, 2022
When My Thoughts Get Tangled
Confession time. I’m having trouble writing this today. It’s not that I don’t have thoughts and ideas I’d like to share. It’s that the words I need to express them are all jumbled up, like a bubbling pot of porridge (I’ve also been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis recently…
Confession time. I’m having trouble writing this today. It’s not that I don’t have thoughts and ideas I’d like to share. It’s that the words I need to express them are all jumbled up, like a bubbling pot of porridge (I’ve also been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis recently so the language I do have is a bit archaic).
A common saying these days when referring to something a person feels they have expertise in is “it’s in my wheelhouse,” or not it’s not in their wheelhouse as the case may be.
The wheelhouse, though, is a place to turn trains around. Tracks lead in and out in several directions while the engine spins around on a giant turntable until it is positioned in the direction it needs to go next. Right now, my wheelhouse is a jumbled mess where the turntable seems to be spinning with no clear direction while the locomotive teeters on the brink of a catastrophic fall.
My train of thought is barely hanging onto the rails, much less is it ready to leave the station.
Perhaps that’s because my wheelhouse was meant to function a bit differently—a way I have been too lax in guarding.
There’s another kind of wheelhouse that has only one way in and one way out. It is a water wheelhouse. The water flows in and then out again in the opposite direction. It never gives way to distraction or confusion by taking in things it’s not meant to or trying to send them out in a direction that isn’t right.
But the best part is the water wheel only turns in direct proportion to the flow of the water. It is never out of sync, at risk of going too fast or too slow or missing a turn. It is content to work at the rhythm and pace set by its source.
This is what the Christ-centered life looks like. The River of Life flows into our soul, bringing with it wisdom and direction, peace and purpose. As it flows through us, it creates energy, empowering us to do all that is within God’s will for us. Then it graciously flows from our soul as we share what we’ve received with a thirsty world.
By contrast, the world works to claim our minds and our ability to think by overloading our wheelhouses with too many steam engines all trying to go in different directions. The result can be a dizzying–and defeating–amount of chaos.
Which is probably where I was when I started writing this.
But in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
Who better to help me sort through and steward my words than the One who is the Word?
I don’t need to figure out which thought goes on which rail when all my thoughts flow in and out focused on and filtered through the lens of Christ.
It is a mystery and a wonder how they create a new power within me as they turn through the wheelhouse of my heart, mind, and soul. But it is no question that they do. My tangled thoughts become clear, the restlessness in my spirit once again finds purpose, and the striving settles into a peaceful pursuit of God’s will for me.
My thoughts clear as I focus again on my Savior, and the tension holding my words captive falls away.
Refocusing my thoughts my Creator allows the river of living water to satisfy my thirst and out of my heart will flow rivers of living water (see John 7:37-38).
In this noisy, demanding world, it is easy to let too much that isn’t God’s best for us capture our attention. I am no less susceptible to this than anyone else.
But there is a remedy.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things… and the peace of God will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).
There is but one thing in all of eternity that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy—and that thing is a Who. And not just any who, but the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings, our Savior and Redeemer, the Bread of Life and the Light of the World.
He goes by many names, but you only need to say Jesus.
In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul tells us to set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth… for “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (see verses 2,4).
Since our thoughts determine our actions and ultimately our destiny, we need to make sure we are operating the right kind of wheelhouse.
Used with permission of the author, Lori Altebaumer. To read more of Lori’s writing, visit www.lorialtebaumer.com.