When I was driving in the car recently, my radio was tuned into the Houston-based christian radio station, KSBJ. Maybe you’ve experienced the same phenomenon as me–I am jamming to some quality music (i.e. Keith Green) and then, all of a sudden, some static comes over the radio. Next thing I know, some “phat beats” from Austin-based rap station “hot 93.3” take over the radio waves. The encouraging music has quickly changed to a dissertation on how to get rich, get the girl or get my grill iced out.
This phenomenon occurs on a regular basis in College Station because we are stuck right in the middle of Houston and Austin. The stations are constantly competing for control of our antenna. Whenever the undesirable radio station comes on, the normal solution is just to keep driving and the antenna will soon pick up the preferred signal. But the worst is when I pull up to a stop light–as I come to a stop, the radio switches over to the rap and I can’t get it off because I am stuck behind another car. The light turning green is my only hope of salvation.
When this happened yesterday, what crossed my mind was a realization that this phenomenon often parallels our thought life as believers. We are driving along in the Christian life tuned into the Spirit. But all of the sudden, the enemy sends tempting thoughts to our mental antennae (yes, I am excited that I just used the word antennae!) to interrupt God’s broadcast. We didn’t ask for them; we weren’t looking for them, but they are there. How do we respond in these situations?
In his book When I Don’t Desire God (available for free online here), John Piper quotes Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (pg. 80-82), perhaps the greatest British preacher of the 20th century, who offers some great advice on the subject. The following originally appeared in Lloyd-Jones’ book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.
Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. . . . You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and . . . what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.
Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.
In the christian life, we can’t depend on the FCC to screen out all of the temptations in our thoughts, but we can follow Paul’s simple command in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 to wage war against the enemy and ourselves in our thought life:
3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
What other parallels can you make between the competition for our radio antennae in our cars and the competition for our mental antennae in our thought life?