In"Leadership" magazine, a writer relates aconversation with an animal trainer. “How is it,” he asked while pointing to a baby elephant, “that you can stake down a 10-ton elephant with the same size stake you use for the little fellow?” The trainer answered that they began using the stakes when the elephants were young. The baby elephants tug and pull and try every way they know to get loose but find that they cannot. From then on the elephant remembers that escape from the stake is futile and so they never try.
In a similar way, people are “staked down” too often with the lies they believe about themselves. These powerful thoughts are what define who they are and the actions they take.
There are some who believe that they are perpetual victims. They were treated badly perhaps abused horribly, and so they see the world as a threatening place. They feel that there are always people who fail to understand them completely, to take into account what they have been through to appreciate why they are limited in what they can do. Though their abusers may have long since lost all real power over them, they continue to live under their control, carrying about a ball and chain.
Others are dominated by the thoughts of others. They dress as they think others might have them look, they say what they think others might want to hear or they try to be seen with those whose presence will enhance their image. Before entering a conversation they gauge which way the wind is blowing so they might speak correctly. This is a common and expected behavior of a young teen but not of an adult. Image is substance to these, and that image must be as perfect as earth can allow. At all costs the image will be preserved.
There are others whose dominating thought is to find a place in the sun. Theirs is a constant search for the perfectcircumstances, the ideal place, the situation that best suits their needs. Because of their determination they often find themselves at or near those places that they desire but they inevitably find that someone else occupies a higher lane, a more secure place. And so there never is anything of contentment but instead of gnawing feeling that there is that something more somewhere else.
These thoughts, and others like them, become the stakes that bind people to one place. They play like background music and undergird the actions of a life. Like the poor elephants, people bound in this way find that though they might walk much, they are only making circles. Sadly too, many Christians are tied down like their unsaved counterparts in the world.
What is the answer? The New Testament tells us of that little man from Tarsus who ends his brilliant career of world evangelism by facing the evil Nero. While waiting to have their fate decided by a man who lit his garden at night with the burned bodies of Christians, Paul wrote a little letter to his dear friends in Philippi. What does he tell them? “… brethren, whatever things are true… noble…just…pure…lovely…of good report…meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8 NKV).
Dr. Henry Brandt shares that modern psychology helps people come to terms with their world but Christ, helps people transform their world. And with that Christ can transform our thoughts.
What is the dominating thought in your life? Are you consumed with how terribly you have been treated? Are you concerned about what others might think? Are you looking for that better place? Or have you heard Paul’s whisper from his chains, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5)?