Have you been around computers as long as I have? Do you remember the old days when deleting something was more of a visual experience? As I remember it, the item selected would fly across the screen in an arc, towards the trash can in the lower righthand corner. Then it would disappear inside with a bit of a dramatic flair.
The reason I mention this, is that this was the picture Holy Spirit gave me to use while fighting the fierce battle of faith during Lily’s hospitalization. How so? He told me to delete every bad picture that tried to come into my mind, in that same fashion. So, every time a picture of doom landed in my head, I would, in my imagination, delete it just like that. Across the screen, into the garbage can.
I’m sure you can imagine what kind of bad pictures kept trying to come. We all experience it. You know, those times when your loved one hasn’t arrived home when scheduled. They are not answering their phone, either. The bad pictures try to come – in your imagination, a terrible accident. An abduction. A rape. A heart attack.
Why is this? God gave us the faculty of our imagination for a beautiful reason: so He could communicate with us through it. I have come to understand that He has provided us with a built-in inner screen, so that Holy Spirit can show us pictures on it.
This is where hope is born. He places beautiful pictures of the future He has planned for us there. This happens when we open ourselves up to dream big with Him. I believe that same screen is what Paul was referring to when he said, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:18, NIV).
“The eyes of our heart” is the biblical description of our inner screen: our spiritual faculty of sight. When we can perceive the goodness of God with our spiritual eyes, we come to know the hope He has called us to.
The enemy hates hope. So he does everything in his power to distort what we see on our inner screen. That’s why he works so hard at trying to throw bad pictures up on it. If he can get us to let those malicious images in and focus on them, they do a number on our hope.
While Lily was in the ICU, throughout the day, I can’t even count how many bad pictures incessantly tried to come. The enemy worked overtime trying to get me to imagine her either dead, or tragically handicapped, or a vegetable. He also tried to get me to dwell on pictures of our sorrowful future without her. (Thing is, he doesn’t even know the future. Only God does. So we definitely shouldn’t believe his predictions of it).
Probably at least thirty times a day, I used the above exercise from Holy Spirit. I immediately deleted every bad picture that tried to come onto my screen. I had to do this over and over and over and over. The way I understand it, this was an active exercise of 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations… and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (ASV).
During the thick of it, the adversary tried hard. But greater is the One who is inside of me! And, as the preceding verse beautifully encourages, us, the weapons He gave us to fight with are mighty!
Remember how we talked yesterday about the heavenly realms being superior to the physical realms? This applies here too. Deleting bad pictures was not the only element of winning. I also needed to focus the eyes of my heart in on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith. The Triumphant One. The Winner of all my battles. Our Healer. I needed to focus also on pictures of hope. On the screen of my heart, I would partner with Holy Spirit to imagine Lily whole, healthy, joyful, smiling, laughing, playing.
It’s important to point out, this is not just mind over matter. Human imagination all by itself would fall pathetically short of imparting life to our hearts. Only Holy Spirit, the Ruach (Breath, Wind) of God can breathe on the eyes of our hearts, so that we can see what He sees.
Here’s my takeaway. Are you in the midst of a battle today? Set up an off-limits zone in your head for bad pictures. Yes, they will come. They may even come in an incessant onslaught during the hardest moments. But you don’t have to entertain them. You don’t have to let them stay, even for a millisecond. Delete those liars, as quickly as they come.
And make sure to reach out for Jesus with your spirit. Connect with Him, using your spiritual eyes. Look up at Him. Fix your gaze on Jesus. Ask Holy Spirit to breathe on the eyes of your heart, to see what He’s seeing. Practice looking. Practice giving space to His portraits of hope.
He’s got you. He’s got beautiful, beautiful plans for your future. And He’s the only One who owns it.
Only let Him put pictures on your screen.
Has Holy Spirit given you a personal strategy for taking thoughts captive? I’d love to hear about it!