I took my eight month old Labrador puppy on a walk the other day. We walk the same route, day, after day, after day. Sometimes we walk it several times a day. By now he knows which way to turn, where the treat stop is, where the other dogs live and to look out for them. He’s a pretty smart little puppy. But he does still have his moments. If given the chance he would chase a squirrel, say hi to the neighbor dog and or even aggressively show the cat his love. Today he was having one of those moments. He was sniffing the ground like a bloodhound. I could not get him to pick up his nose. Before I knew it, he had something in his mouth. I watched him for a minute because typically he will chew the object and immediately spit it out when he knows it’s not worth eating. But this time he was moving it around in his teeth for quite a while. I noticed he was crunching and chewing quite vigorously. I wondered if he had an acorn or walnut, or something that had fallen from a tree. I wondered if someone had dropped a piece of an apple or a leftover bread crust. Labradors are motivated by their stomach and they can smell any little bit of food within a mile! But as I watched him chew a little longer, I noticed it was not food. At least not the kind that you eventually chew up and swallow. He continued to chew, loudly, aggressively, determined to bite the object. I bent down to grab whatever it was and pull it out of his mouth only to find he had been chewing on a large rock. He was happily just chewing the rock like it was a piece of gum. I watched him for a minute and wondered what he was thinking. Did it taste good? Was the rock soothing on his puppy teeth? I could not understand what was possibly enjoyable about chewing a rock. He continued to eat it, however hard and dirty it was. He continued to chew it, even though it was not chewable. “Silly dog” I thought, chewing on the wrong thing.
Then it hit me,I can be just like that. Sometimes I like to chew on the wrong thing. I don’t mean literally, but figuratively. Often things come to my attention and I can get really stuck chewing on something that is just plain not good for me. Although I know it will not help me, although I know it may even be bad for me, I continue to chew on it. I chew on it long enough that sometimes it causes damage. It may make me resentful or angry. It may hurt my relationships or worse, my trust in God. I need to learn to spit those things out, to let go of them and not keep them close.
On the flip side, God has a guide for us on what will keep us strong and healthy. Philippians 4:8 reminds us “ Finally brothers and sisters, 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.” (NIV)
That’s quite a list. Imagine if I practiced thinking in such a way as Paul suggested. Would my thoughts have an effect on me? Would they lead me to be more kind? More positive? More Holy? I imagine they would. If I were to meditate on God’s word, the way I sometimes stew over other people’s words, wouldn’t my life be richer, fuller and more purposeful? God wants us to surround ourselves with people, activities and content that will encourage us, build us and help create the person He intended us to be. By “chewing on the good stuff” we are choosing to follow Jesus’ plan for our lives.
What about you? Are there things you hold onto? Is there something you are chewing on that you know is negatively impacting you? Could you “spit it out” today and choose something better? Could you “chew” on God’s word and let that fill your mind and your heart?
My prayer for each of us this week is that we ask God to show us what we need to let go of to fill our hearts with thoughts of Him.
- What is something you have been “chewing on” that is negatively impacting you?
- Write it down and then crumple the paper up and throw it away.
- Ask God to help you “spit out” what you need to in order to more fully focus on him.
- Pray for guidance on ways to fill your mind with things that are good!