Telling Yourself the Truth

It was a beautiful September day.  Clear blue sky.  Warm.  Low humidity.  Temperature hovering at just below 80 with just enough breeze to keep the fresh air moving.  A perfect day to spend exploring Callaway Gardens, located just south of Atlanta, Georgia. We shopped, hiked and visited the attractions in and around the popular site situated about an hour south of Atlanta.  By late afternoon, we had only one remaining spot to visit… the newly constructed “Treetop Adventure.” which consists of a series of nineteen unguided obstacle courses stationed 20-30 feet off the ground, connected by five zip lines.

We were told we could expect the challenging course to take 1 ½ to 2 hours to complete.  Ready for an adventure, we signed up (also, completed the accident release form!) and grabbed our harnesses, gloves and helmets.  After brief instruction and successfully navigating a practice course, we were assured that we were safe as long as at least one of our carabineers was always hooked to the red safety line that stretched throughout the entire course.  With that thought well in mind, we climbed the first ladder.  I’ll have to admit, as I looked down from the platform, my heart was beating just a little faster than normal. Before I took my a step onto the first obstacle, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, reminding myself of what the instructor had said.  ….  “As long as you are hooked to the red safety line, you are completely safe.”

But when I opened my eyes, my mind told me a different story.  I looked 15 feet straight down to the ground.  There were no nets.  Nothing to provide any cushion at all between me and the hard earth below.  My eyes took in the evidence before them and told my head that it was a long way down!  It’s not surprising that my body, then reacted with apprehension.

So I took another deep breath and replayed the instructor’s words again.      “You are completely safe.”  I stepped out and made my way across the obstacle without incident.  The next platform was a little higher, and a little more challenging. Before crossing this time, I said the line softly to myself…  “You are completely safe.”  The more I repeated that to myself, the more relaxed I became.  By the time I got to the sixth platform, I was calm, and confident.  I made it easily through even the most challenging parts of the course because I’d come to believe the truth that I was never in any danger at all.

There’s a powerful application that can be made from my afternoon in the trees.  Often we’re prone to give the most weight to what we can see, hear and process with our minds.  For believers, that’s a dangerous way to live.  What our senses tell us should never be the thing that guides our thoughts and actions.  If we use externals as the barometer of what’s right and true, we’ll find ourselves constantly bound by anxiety, fear, anger and all kind of other destructive emotions.

In John 8:32, Jesus points to a different standard by which to live.  He said “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  When we make it a habit of assessing our situation in light the truth of God’s Word, and actively reinforce it (out loud, if necessary), we’ll see our confidence in the Lord grow and our attitudes change.  This practice can have effects far beyond just our ability to process a surprising situation correctly.  It can also alter how we think about ourselves.  For believers, thoughts such as “I’m worthless”, “unloved” or “incompetent” are categorically false, but often we repeat those lies over and over to ourselves without ever really assessing their powerful ability to mute the voice of God, and pull us away from His plan for our lives.

Be honest.  Ask yourself whether you believe what you can see, feel or have heard more than you believe what the Lord says.  If your answer reveals an uncomfortable reality, then dig into God’s Word to discover what He says, and begin the practice of daily, and frequently, telling yourself the truth.

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