We all use Microsoft Word or Excel and if you are writer like me, some functionalities are so useful. One of such for me is ‘Find and Replace’. Pressing the combination ‘Control + F’ has helped me many a times to look for a repeated word, a profound word typed in the speed and throes of writing or perhaps the wrong word that should be taken out completely. I liken this to my journey recently with really believing and living the word of God as it concerns me. My challenge is with ensuring that I think only the word of God and pulling down those thoughts that compete with the word of God in my spirit. I have had a long process of dealing with toxic thoughts, defeating thoughts and a daily temptation to revert to wrong thinking.
For years, I would pray in the spirit and in the understanding –
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil 4:8)
I did this with diligence and focus, but thoughts of failure, self-deprecation, unforgiveness and revenge would plague my mind. After futile attempts without much progress, I realised my strategy and approach were wrong. I could pray these words from now till eternity and nothing would happen if did not find those thoughts – limiting thoughts – identify their root cause and replace them with the word of God concerning the same. I delayed action, pushed this forward, for some reason not wanting to confront the root cause of the thoughts.
Then in God’s usual fashion, He confronts me with a personal development exercise I came across – ‘exposing the lies’. This entailed writing out in pencil the many lies we have told ourselves about ourselves concerning our work, careers, relationships, abilities, then replacing them with wholesome truths.
Again, I postponed and after few meltdowns of mental and emotional exhaustion, I was forced kicking and screaming and amid tears, unveiling myself to myself, I started my ‘spiritual Find and Replace’. For each ‘find’, I found that I had been robbed of so much and I was unaware. I would ask myself, “How can I still have this kind of toxic thought?” Well, with age, I realise we all battle with one dysfunction or another. Sometimes we are born into it, sometimes trauma or incidents of life make them part of our lives. However they come, remember that the enemy of our souls would use anything he can to ensure we do not achieve our fullest potential and God’s ultimate purpose and best for us. Indeed, wrong thinking had come upon me slowly over the years, built up, layers of lies about God’s love, God’s grace, my self-worth, intellect, abilities, propensity to grow, progress. The real motivation to defeat the strongholds in my mind was when I counted the cost, realized what wrong thinking had cost me in life and enough was enough!
The first step for me was to identify (find) the wrong thinking, uproot and expose them in prayer further by asking God to show you how they came about, why they are there and begin to exchange (replace) them with the word of God. This for me is 2 Cor 10:4 in action – The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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. (NIV). There must be an identification, a taking captive of thoughts to the obedience of Christ (who is the Word of God in flesh).
To make this practical and less cryptic, I will share one of the lies I found and how my whole life started to change with this spiritual practice.
I am a slow learner; complex things take me time to understand. I need to break them down into their composite parts and because of this, I have constantly called myself in my head stupid. I ask questions at work meetings and I say, “I want to ask a stupid question”, like it’s some badge of humility. I am constantly apologizing in meetings by saying statements like, ‘Sorry if I am slow but I need a better explanation”. I had so desecrated my abilitie that I now believed this. The thinking came from childhood of course (primary, secondary school days), being told directly or indirectly that you are slow, or you are drawing back the class with your questions, failing in Math and needing extra tutoring because someone had to take it slow with you. Amazing how the devil can use little instances to build a stronghold in our lives and here I was a full-grown woman of 44, it was still affecting me. The more my career grew and I encountered complex business problems, I would literally panic, not grasping issues quickly enough to resolve them with speed. I later started to accept that my cognitive abilities were below par.
I unpacked this lie and realised first that scientifically, I am a combination of a visual, kinaesthetic and auditory learner, so my approach to learning things changed. If I must print out an email, a white paper or concept I will; so, I can study it or read out loud, highlight key things, make my notes so it’s understandable to me. Secondly, I went to the word of God and I realised there was too much to replace with but my favourite is Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing (NIV)
Many Christians use this for material provision, I use it for all provision. I literally chew this as a pill – “I lack nothing!!” If God brought it my way, I am equipped with the right skills, intellect and abilities to tackle it.
My second favourite is Phil 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me (NKJV) or
better still, Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am (MSG).
So, personalizing it for me I say to myself, “I can make it through any difficulty and personal limitations through Christ who knew me from the foundation of the world and has placed me in this situation.”
And my third favourite and attack on this specific situation is the prayer of Daniel in Daniel 2:19-23. Please check this out.
I have not shared any ground-breaking revelation to a Christian but indeed, we hear a lot of God’s word so many messages, sermons, but how have these shaped our lives, our routines and spiritual practices? Well, this is one of mine! If you care to fight for the rightful promises of God that Christ purchased for us at Calvary, I ask you to join me in the quest to Find + Replace!