On Thoughts and Deeds

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Proverbs 16:3

You would think it would be the other way around, that we would be instructed to commit our thoughts to God, that our works would be established. After all, thought precedes and motivates action. But my own thoughts are the slipperiest, most recalcitrant rascals imaginable, careening around inside my head like so many greased pinballs. Perhaps I suffer from what Madeleine L’Engle called the writer’s gift (and curse) of extrapolation. Writers necessarily live in their own heads a good deal, delving into motives, generating multiple possible outcomes of certain courses of action, manufacturing cause-and-effect units which spawn more causes and more effects in a vast interlocking network. This is all well and good when you are plotting a story, but when you turn the process to your own life, the result is maddening. Startling Revelations, Unforeseen Reversals, and Surprise Endings clamor in my mind until I feel well-nigh wacked out, and unconsciousness would be the greatest imaginable relief. Of course everyone does this to some extent, but writers have had lots of practice, and perhaps a more sensitive nervous system than the population at large.

I find that the proverb makes excellent sense. My hands are more responsive than my mind to the direction of my will; though my thoughts may be a tangle, still I can make myself work. And this ability to work in spite of mental turmoil presupposes an inner willingness, a spark that grows when nurtured, something on the order of, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” When obedience is driven by a mere mustard seed of faith, thoughts and emotions straighten themselves out as a matter of course. Just as thought precedes and motivates action, so action shapes future thought.

And all the while, the great Storyteller, that Author of Authors, is at work on a colossal cosmic drama of surpassing beauty and power, the plot twists of which are beyond my wildest imaginings.

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