I was at a swim meet Sunday afternoon. It was a great meet, because I was watching my son do his very best. He was about half way through his events and getting personal bests in each event. So I could either start to conclude that he was having a great day and would continue to improve, or I could start to worry that he had peaked for the day, and it was going to go down hill from there.
Unfortunately, my mind has the tendency to drift down the latter road and to think about the worst outcome that could happen next. At times, I consider this way of thinking to be a safety mechanism, because I do not want to be surprised or because I want to be prepared. I like to think of it as being more of a realist rather than being a pessimist. To steal a line from someone else: I was going to try and be a pessimist, but I was afraid it would not work out.
Fortunately, my son went on to have a really great day.
This is not meant to be a post on the power of positive thinking. And yet, how many times in life could we choose to find the positive instead of the negative? How many times in life do we find ourselves worrying when truthfully, there is nothing to worry about?
This way of thinking is nothing new. I am not the only one who does this. God’s people who were with Moses were pretty good at this too. God, through Moses, led his people out of Egypt where they were slaves. He promised them a wonderful place to live. Moses and the people got there and took a look at this “promised” land.
25 They returned from exploring the land after forty days. 26 They went directly to Moses, Aaron, and the entire Israelite community in the Paran desert at Kadesh. They brought back a report to them and to the entire community and showed them the land’s fruit. 27 Then they gave their report: “We entered the land to which you sent us. It’s actually full of milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (Numbers 13)
Is anyone surprised? The land promised is truly wonderful. But they did not stop:
28 There are, however, powerful people who live in the land. The cities have huge fortifications. And we even saw the descendants of the Anakites there. (Numbers 13)
Which led to two schools of thoughts, a negative one:
The entire community raised their voice and the people wept that night. 2 All the Israelites criticized Moses and Aaron. The entire community said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt or if only we had died in this desert! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our children will be taken by force. Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to each other, “Let’s pick a leader and let’s go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14)
And a positive one:
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the assembled Israelite community. 6 But Joshua, Nun’s son, and Caleb, Jephunneh’s son, from those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite community, “The land we crossed through to explore is an exceptionally good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he’ll bring us into this land and give it to us. It’s a land that’s full of milk and honey. 9 Only don’t rebel against the Lord and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are our prey. Their defense has deserted them, but the Lord is with us. So don’t be afraid of them.” 10 But the entire community intended to stone them. (Numbers 14)
Ouch – did you see how the positive view got treated? It did not go over well. Sometimes people, including me, find it is easier to go with the negative view. It is easier to let the worry take over. It is easier to be afraid. All the while God is at work, but we are choosing not to see it.
My prayer is this…
“God, I know focusing on the positive does not mean everything will go the way I want it to go. Help me not to miss you though. Help me to see you, to see the positive, to see the fruit, this day. Amen.”
I know I need to pray that prayer, more often than I like to admit at times.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)