In a recent blog we were reflecting on what a wonderful gift of God our imagination can be when it is filled with ideas, thoughts and creativity that are in line with the Lord’s imagination. Equally imagination can lead us down dark paths and into much worry when it feeds on the lies of the enemy, or the thinking of a world without God, or without faith. The verses in Isaiah 26:3 are powerful: ”Peace, absolute peace surrounds those whose imaginations are consumed with you, they confidently trust in you.” (TPT) In the Authorised Version it reads “whose mind is stayed on Thee”.
You don’t need to be Hebrew scholar to discover something deeper and potentially life changing here. Just a straightforward concordance is needed. The word that is translated as ‘mind’ or ‘imagination’ here appears just nine times in the old testament. And these references are fascinating and very modern! In Genesis 6:5 and 8:21 it indicates that the imagination, inclination, or intent of men’s thoughts or heart are evil. The important thing to realise is that it isn’t just saying that men have evil thoughts, but that the whole framework of their thinking is evil. Evil thoughts happen within an evil framework. In Deuteronomy 31:21 God tells Moses that despite all the good He has done for the people they are ‘developing an intent’ (NASB) to turn away from Him. In 1 Chronicles 28:9 David tells his son Solomon that God knows the motives/intent/imagination behind our thoughts. Again it’s not just the thoughts, it’s what behind them, driving them, the framework, imagination or intent that is important.
Then look at Psalm 103:14 ‘He knows our frame’, Isaiah 29:16 ‘shall the thing framed/ formed say’ and Habakuk2:18 ‘the maker of his work/handiwork/creation trust therein’. The idea is of a structure, something that has been formed, or we have made, or a framework that we trust in. These passages seem to clarify that the framework or structure that we buy into becomes the reference point and construct for our life, and moulds our thoughts, our values and our expectations.
How is that relevant to us today? Well if I have a socialist framework my thoughts and reactions to any situation will be framed by that perspective and value system. If I have a feminist philosophy, and frame my life by that, my thoughts and responses to daily events and people will be framed by that. Similarly if I am a convinced capitalist, or a republican, or a democrat and so forth. If however I am a convinced God perspective person believing that in everything Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that God is most definitely always loving and faithful (Psalm 117). And if I am convinced in the depth of my being of this, I will therefore be looking at daily life, events and people through that framework. This will then affect what sort of daily thoughts I have. So it is not just very good to have good and godly thoughts – not evil ones as in Genesis 6 – that’s a great start, but it is even better to have a surrounding framework, perspective and value system to my thoughts that looks at, and responds to, life through a God lens daily.
Surely that is what Isaiah 26:3 means when it talks of a mind or imagination stayed on the Lord, fixed on the Lord, locked on. It means my mind is fixed, my glasses are firmly on my nose to see everything in life through the framework of who God is, what He has said, how trustworthy He is and much more beside.
Well hopefully that is a journey that we are all on, and I would suggest that a lifestyle of thanksgiving is a great instrument and help on this journey. The more I am thanking and praising God for all He is, all He has done, all He has promised, then the more I am washing my glasses with the truth and forming the framework through which I view, respond to and frame all my life, my experiences and my expectations. If I regularly read books on capitalism, socialism or any other ‘ism’ I am likely to be persuaded by one or another of these and start to frame my life through that perspective and think thoughts in line with that philosophy. Read psalm115 especially verse 8. We become like the frames that we make, give value to (‘worship’) and trust in.
If I am regularly soaking myself in God’s word, consuming it and thanking Him that it is all true and He really is most wonderful, full of steadfast love, mercy, grace and faithfulness and quite trustworthy; then not only my thoughts, but the very framework, ideas, imaginations, structures and values of how I look at and respond to daily life, events and people will be being changed. Thanksgiving gives me new glasses to view my life, God and world through. As an added bonus, thanksgiving also keeps cleaning my glasses afresh when they get smudged by the ups and downs of daily life, contrary ideas and my own initial reactions, thoughts and emotions.