Sometimes they involve someone else, but most of the time the dialogue goes back and forth in my own head. I call them “take-out conversations” because they quite simply take me out. (Actually, I got this term from my friend, Kristin.) Something is said or a thought goes through my mind that is the knock out punch sending me to the floor for the full count. I feel punched in the stomach, and I begin to doubt my purpose.
I think such conversations are inevitable. As long as we are human and see the world around us according to our perspective and our reality, there will be disagreements. Also, as long as there is an enemy pursuing the destruction of our hope, peace, and the power of God in our lives, we will have to endure such nagging.
Even the great prophet Elijah knew such conversations in his head. Elijah was dismayed. He had won a huge victory. He had killed the prophets of Baal, proved the power of God, and prayed rain back into the country after a three year drought. He was a man of power and purpose, yet he had run to the desert and asked to die. The take-out conversation went something like this:
God asked, “What are you doing here Elijah?”
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left…..boo-hoo. I want to quit!” (Italicized words mine.)
I love God’s reply to Elijah. Do you remember what He said? God didn’t rebuke the prophet, instead He gave Elijah His plan. God had already prepared other men for service including Elisha to take the prophet’s place. And then God said…
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel– all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). In essence God said, “You are not alone.”
God was in control.
I find I’m taken to the floor when I allow the conversation to be all about me. When it’s about my hurt, my disappointments, my fears, my failure or lack of control, I am sunk. But when I recognize the negative voice in my head as one trying to take my eyes off Jesus, when I ask the Lord for clarity and truth, then the punch doesn’t have as much strength. I don’t stay down for the full count.
I can then exchange my spirit of despair for a garment of praise! I’m not in control, but the One who is pure goodness is! Listen to this definition of joy.
“Joy is not merely happiness but rather an unshakable confidence that God is in control. Therefore, He is our one and only source of joy and stands ready, waiting to saturate every circumstance with His presence.” Mary Southerland
“Bring on Your Presence Lord! Fill our minds with You! When the take-out conversations threaten our peace and joy, set our gaze on You! Amen.”