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Thoughts Are Wild Things (But Don’t Worry, Taming Them Is Possible)

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I have had some of the worst experiences with horses. You would think somewhere between being bitten, bucked off, and nearly trampled I would throw in the equestrian towel, yet I still jump at the opportunity the first chance I get.

“You know most of the time, it’s not that the horse is bad,” my friend Marissa explains to me in a thick Panamanian accent, stroking her horse’s long, blazed nose, “The problem isn’t with the horses, it’s with how they were trained, or how the owner works with them. They have to understand their horse, then teach it some manners.”

She has a point. And like horses, our thoughts are naturally wild, untamed creatures. It’s up to us to shape them. Without being in check, our thought-life has the ability to hurt us, steer us wrong, or cause serious damage to our future. The good news is that life in Christ gives us the authority and ability to tame our thoughts, align them with God’s purpose, and give them permission to boldly propel us down the God-given path for our lives.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” {2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV}

I love how the Message translation explains this: “…fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”

Historically, herds of wild mustangs would be captured on horseback. To catch a wild horse, your horse essentially had to be stronger, faster, and better than the horse that was being captured. In the same way, the best way to capture our wild and rebellious thoughts are with another, stronger thought. Did you know that there is no thought we can produce that is too destructive, too compelling, or too powerful to outrun the thoughts God thinks about us? He shares this reassuring truth with us in His Word:

“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” {Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT}

If we grasp the reality of the thoughts that God thinks about us and for us, we can conquer every single one of our wild, untamed thoughts. He loves us, He is for us, and He has a plan for our lives. And you know what’s cool? We can discover all of these truths and store them in the depths of our heart by reading His Word. Scripture is powerful and will always accomplish its purpose (see Isaiah 55:11). But what is that purpose exactly?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” {2 Timothy 3:16, NLT}

Much like taming and training a horse, God’s Word helps us identify where we are out of line and how we can align our lives with His will. In the process of becoming—of fitting every aspect of our lives into the structure of a life shaped by Christ—scripture is vital to bring our natural, sinful and wild ways into submission under God’s desire for us.

Processed with VSCOcam with j4 presetAlong the journey, it’s like a lead line with a horse. This is a rope attached to a horse’s bridle used to walk the horse from one place to another. The moment a horse feels their lead line thrown on their back is the very moment they stop acting up and submit to the authority of the one who threw it there. The horse fully believes that he is captured and immediately obeys. The Word of God is our lead line to seize rebellious thought-patterns in their tracks and bring them under the authority of Jesus. When we apply scripture in context, we are bringing our lives into alignment with His Word.

Taming our wild thoughts requires operating in that authority. When I started riding, I would treat my horse more like a puppy: baby-talking him, trying to gently sway him left or right, and coddling him when he was afraid of silly things like puddles. But this is not how horses were meant to be ridden. As a result, I found myself being dragged through bushes and trees, begging him to go where I wanted, and ultimately being ineffective. Horses need firm instruction—a strong, confident voice leading and guiding them. Our thoughts are no different. We cannot make friends with our rogue thoughts and hope they’ll get better as a result. We will never see progress unless we get a tighter grip on the reins of our thought-life, speak to it with boldness, and lead it with confident faith in God’s plan for us.

Tame is not weak. Tame is a powerful, agile, and unrelenting force that has been given a purpose and direction. That same wild thought life that we once had no control over us can be captured, tamed, and become the very vehicle that propels us into the fullness of life God has for us. I am confident that as we gallop down the paths God has blazed for us, we can whip by the obstacles along the way while being carried by the winds of grace and move in the rhythm God intended—making the ride of life so much more enjoyable.

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