By Jaime Sherman
When I was a little kid, I enjoyed playing Chutes and Ladders, especially the part of the game when I could flick my finger against the red, plastic arrow, watch the spinner loop multiple times, and then finally land on one of six numbers on the cardboard square. Now as an adult, I find the game less than stimulating, and I appreciate just how patient my parents were to sit with me as I learned to add and to subtract on that board of 100 squares. I also appreciate the memory of the whirling red arrow, for it provides my adult self with a needed visual reminder of how my thoughts loop on deeply forged pathways in my brain to determine my emotions and then actions, often in less than desirable ways.
As the summer winds to a close and the fall months loom with uncertainty, my thoughts spin like that game piece searching for a place to land.
When will the chaos stop spinning around me? Will I ever see my daily routine return to a pre-2020 reality?
Will the invisible 6-foot barriers and cloth masks be removed in the near future? Or will my children grow up in a plexi-glass world physically distant from people who are also cut off emotionally?
When will my country stop raging against itself? Will my fellow Americans ever be transformed into a loving, united people living out the instruction to “do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)?
Will I joyfully climb the ladder on the gameboard to better things as the months of 2020 become mere memories? Or will I be hurled down a chute to face more hard things in the days ahead?
When, Lord Jesus, will you return to set all things right?
While I wait for answers, the arrow loops around and around, and I hear the Lord whisper through the whirl, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God’s words can still my spinning on this gameboard of life and keep me from the endless anxiety and depression, but I must surrender and TRUST THE FATHER.
This Trust the Father motto comes from the well-known Proverbs 3 verses, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (vs. 5-7). The motto served a dual purpose in our home this summer as we prepared for two camping trips with our six children. Excitement and anxiety about the unknown caused chaos as we packed and all six children chimed in with opinions, concerns, and questions. The cacophony was too much, and I declared, “Trust the Father. Just trust the Father.” I explained to them that this meant two things: “Trust your earthly father, Little Ones, for he will guide us to and through a safe and enjoyable time together. And trust your heavenly Father, for He wants the very best for you.”
Just as I have to remind my children what is true, so I must remind myself what God says is true.
My God is in control. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. I Chronicles 29:11-12
My God wants the best for me, and His plan is better than mine. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
My God can be trusted. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
My God is always with me. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
My God wants my mind set on good things. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
According to researchers, we have thousands if not tens of thousands of thoughts looping daily in our brains, many of them ingrained in our subconscious. This pattern affirms our original thoughts and forms our beliefs, even if the original thoughts were rooted in lies. The same researchers tell us that 70 to 80 percent of our thoughts are consistently negative or rooted in lies, which tells us it’s incredibly important to preach God’s truth to ourselves — and to each other — in order to blaze new trails of thought in our brains, for “a fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11).
A counselor once taught me a simple exercise for resetting my thoughts on truth, so my actions are based on biblical truth rather than on lies. She often reminded me from Proverbs 23:23, “Buy truth, and do not sell it.”
My prayer is that this exercise, provided above, will help you enter the fall months with your mind stayed on Christ as you trust Him to direct your paths (Isaiah 26:3). If you need a place to start in God’s Word, I encourage you join UFC Women for the final two weeks of Summer in the Psalms (Psalms 146-150 and 119) and then for Wisdom in Chaos, a daily study through the 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, beginning September 1 here at ufcwomen.blog.