As silly as they seem, cartoons are a myriad of strangely relevant stories and plots consisting of heroes, rivals, and topics like revenge, anxiety, and even death. Even so, the way in which they are depicted is far from the life we know. One example is TV tropes, which are a figurative demonstration of a character being stunned or injured. For instance, when a character is hurt or taken by surprise, there’s a halo of circling birds above the character’s head. You might recall the sound of “cuckoo, cuckoo” when these little birds appear. Either way, I’ve felt like one of these characters as of late, with emotions, feelings, and perceptions circling and out of sorts.
Graciously, in my time with Jesus, He is showing me how my response and posture in light of things I didn’t’ see comin’ are casting a shadow on my days.
When I’m hit over the head with the unexpected, I am a self-confessed over-thinker. I assess the situation. I find out every single thing I can about it. I process. I want to feel better about it…get over it, and move on.
Unwittingly, I cause myself a lot of undue stress and anxiousness, because I am not equipped to handle the weight of the heaviest blows of life. Yet, even when I turn to Jesus, I continue to feel the tremendous tension of what’s going on around me. Joy is lost. Faith is weakened. Fear is rampant.
What I’m learning is that struggles are a digression from God’s purpose. What’s more is that the struggle itself is not as much of a threat as my focus on it.
Francis Francipane suggests that if we were to name this spirit of struggle, we would call it “Wrong Focus.” I’m reminded here that the chief goal of the enemy is to “lure our minds to hell,” to set our thoughts on everything except Jesus.
I recently read a story about a music executive. Given the many hours spent listening to music, he became an expert at catching the imperfections in each track. One day, when his friend visited him at the recording studio, he said, “I bet listening to music all day is enjoyable.” The man responded by saying, “You know, I haven’t listened to music in years…no matter what recording I’m listening to, all I hear are the pops and sizzles.”
More than anything, I want to hear the music. Yet, when I find myself surrounded by an army of circumstances that are out of my control, my belief in the sovereignty of God is challenged like never before. Maybe you’re in a similar place. If so, consider this account noted in 2 Kings 6. Long story short, an army from Syria surrounded a city called Dothan, and a servant of the prophet Elisha was panicked. To calm him, Elisha said this…
“Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
[2 Kings 6:16]
As Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to the multitude of heavenly angels (horses and chariots of fire) that were also there on his behalf, his perception changed. Essentially, he went from ‘hearing only the pops and sizzles to hearing the music.’
If in the same scenario, many of us would’ve prayed against the encroaching enemy until we were blue in the face, right? Elisha responded differently as he reminded his servant that those with us are more than those with them. Elisha understood that his servant’s focus on the surrounding army was a spirit of ‘wrong focus.’ He also understood that the faith of his servant would come alive if only he could see the enormous loyalty of God in sending his angels to surround the city.
Without a doubt, this is a twist on prayer and perspective.
“We must learn that, on a personal level, it is better to develop godly virtues than to spend our day praying against the devil.” [Frangipane]
Jesus…many of us come to you today with unruly perceptions, fear, worry, and doubt. Will you open our eyes, as you did for Elisha’s servant? We want to hear the music of your majesty with a greater awareness of the impenetrable stronghold of your presence!