Grabbing Hold of Shiny Thoughts
Rachel Olsen

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Sitting in the overstuffed chair at Barnes & Noble I feel undersized. My feet don't quite touch the floor with my back against the cushion. So I pull my legs up and fold them beneath me, making a bird's nest of my lap. I pour my attention onto the pages of my selected book. People walk past me – surely, it's a busy Sunday afternoon – but I don't notice. I'm enamored with the words before me. I'm following in the footsteps of the author, from my perch in the enormous chair.

Twenty some minutes go by before I look up and stretch. The bookstore café sits in my sight line, just a few dozen feet before me. People are milling about. None of them in particular stand out. Until I spot the woman, coiffed like a porcelain doll. Ready to be someone's bright-eyed treasure. She's attractive, put together, and carries herself with that certain air only long time southern residents with a good bit of money seem to possess.

I stop scanning the café and watch only her. That is until a dark-haired man in a suit enters a few minutes later and heads to the tail of the coffee line. His suit is out of place for this time and space. But I suspect he could still stand out in a pair of khaki Dockers.

I watch him awhile, inching his way towards the counter, waiting his turn to order an espresso. Then I return my gaze to the woman, now seated at a table with her trendy bag, cell phone, coffee cup and papers, likely doing something important. Or at least doing something well. I notice my pulse has slightly increased. And when I inventory my thoughts, I find them discussing how to be as attractive and commanding as these two.

That's ironic, given that a few paragraphs back in the book, I'd paused at the author's line, "When did looking good become your god?" The question in the middle of the paragraph had begged me to pull the journal from my purse and write it down for future consideration. After dragging my attention away from the shiny café people, I decide now should be that future time. Placing my pen to the journal page, the ink forms this note to God and self:

"When I see someone, male or female, who looks good in my opinion—or in the world's opinion, as the two are entirely too synonymous at times—my attention fixates. I find my pulse even quickens. This happens whenever I like what I see—be it a person, a painting, or a ripe plum. I admire and desire it. And, honestly, I find myself longing today to elicit that kind of response in others. Why??

Probably because it seems powerful. Probably because a mind that is not set on Christ derives too much pleasure from being admired. But here I sit today, a bit disheveled, in need of a haircut, with my feet in my lap like a child. And what's equally honest is I want to enjoy sitting here like this without regret. Without worry that I'm not a shiny, suit person right now. I wish I looked my best at all times, and at the same time, I don't want to be driven by that wish. I see that for what it would truly be: slavery to image. I want to look nice when it's fun for me to, or necessary for me to look professional. But I don't want looking good to become my god. Thank You God, that You look at my heart and not my appearance."

And with that, having taken my thoughts captive, I return to my chosen book. Contented. With my feet in my lap like a child. And I walk some more in the author's footsteps, forgetting all about myself and the shiny people in the café. My mind has just tasted freedom in Christ—it tastes much sweeter than the world's best espresso and crème.

Dear Holy Spirit, help me be aware of my thoughts today. Bring them consciously before me, and help me line them up with Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Rachel’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors, Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets the Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Intimacy with God: Your Daily Guide to Prayer by Tara Furman

A Woman’s Price Tag offers more truth for you

Application Steps:
Choose a certain bracelet, or tie a piece or ribbon around your wrist today to remind you to pay attention to your thoughts. When you catch sight of it, inventory your recent thoughts. How do they line up with scriptural truths?

Do you pay attention to what you are thinking? Are you quiet enough at times in your day to notice your thoughts?

What strategies do you have or can you create for taking your thoughts captive and submitting them to Christ?

Power Verses:
I Samuel 16:7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'" (ESV)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Mindy said...

I needed this today! I had a discussion with friends a few days ago about sizing up a room when you walk in and feeling inadequate. Our conclusion was discontentment. Praying for my thoughts to be taken captive as well. Thanks for the encouragement!

Blogger KARUNIA said...

Thanks you so much to remind me to stay in firm in His words facing my prob. It comes at the right time, I need it.


Anonymous Tia said...

Wow! This was powerful! It is very imperative that we make sure our thoughts are in line with our Father. Often we let things go unchecked any they can hinder us from having a full relationship with God. Thanks for the reminder to keep looking up and setting and resetting our minds on Christ daily. God bless, keep, and strengthen you today and forever.

Blogger Jennifer said...

So THAT'S what it looks like to take a thought captive.

Grab it, ID it, look at it, ponder it and give. it. to. Him.


Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

Love that summary, Jennifer. :)

Blogger Sherry said...

Grab it, ID it, look at it, ponder it and give. it. to. Him.

Jennifer - this is great! Thank you for that. GIVE. IT. TO. HIM.

Blogger Familyof6inTX said...

The question about being quiet enough to be aware of my thoughts hit me square in the eyes. I have some situations going on in my life right now that are hard and sometimes painful to think about. So I find myself making myself busy so that I don't have the time to think about them. Thanks for the reminder to be still and reflect from time to time.

Anonymous Ashley said...

Thank you for the devotion as always it was a blessing & came at the time when I needed it most.

Anonymous Lucy Munoz said...

It's a great devotion, thank you for posting it.

I recall reading this devotion not too long ago.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this devotional have no idea ho un-shiny I have felt lately...thank you God for these words that remind me to you I am shiny in my own way!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this devotional have no idea how un-shiny I have felt lately...thank you God for these words that remind me to you I am shiny in my own way!

at 1:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this devotional have no idea how un-shiny I have felt lately...thank you God for these words that remind me to you I am shiny in my own way!

at 1:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh gosh...this was incredible!

I wonder, though, if you gave consideration to how those people might have viewed you.

Might they have looked at how comfortable you were, unconcerned with looking the most chic, and desired that which made you shine?

Very good post. Thank you for sharing some very insightful words.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this and needed it today. This has been a god that I have worshipped in the past and it was a good check to see if I have raised it up again. Praising God that He looks on the heart!

Good summary.

Anonymous Celene Harrelson said...

Great post! I loved it so much that I wanted to tweet it to my friends, but you don't have a tweet button anywhere. You are missing a great opportunity to help build you list. Blessings,

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