In 1999 while at a sales job, I met a wise old man. Though I always wanted to arrive before everyone he had a way of preempting my tenacity. Regardless how hard I tried he was always first to arrive. He was sharp and quick witted. One day, while basking in the glory of the morning sun I approach him quietly so as not disturb his morning meditation.
"Hi Jeff" he'd say to me. Then smiling he'd open his eyes to reveal intensely blue eyes. That was our morning ritual. Sometimes we'd talk, sometimes we didn't. It was a simple and uncomplicated greeting. Although he was advanced in years, his eyes reflected an intense energy. His was always happy and joyful. Even during the worst managerial crisis he would lead calmly but decisively. He always had a sense of the proper course of action. Regardless of how dire or wonderful the situation he seemed to always know what to say. Employees followed without question out of sheer love for the man. And when arguments arose he'd judge with fairness while upholding righteousness.
During a particularly turbulent time in my life, I walked in at my regular time and just started to release all my worry and frustration. Jack smiled. "Life got you down huh?" "Yeah, I guess so." Then he said something that would change my life forever. He said, "If you keep your eyes on man you will always see death and destruction. Keep your eyes on God and you will always see light." Not only did his words impart knowledge, but I sensed an almost mystical communication stirring in my soul. It was as if he was there, absorbing God's light from an open door in heaven and I was able to momentarily experience it. The sensation I got was like a taste of heaven, a real tangible taste not savored by the tongue, but in heart and mind.
During these few seconds of glorious bliss I understood reality from an eternal perspective, something I reminisce over even to this day. Looking at life from this perspective everything appears manageable and understandable. The sense of peace I received that morning calmed all my frayed nerves.
After that morning I began to seek wisdom from God's word, not just understanding, but deep profound truth and meaning from the Scriptures.
Let Your Light Shine
In John 10:30 Jesus states, "I and the Father are One". A bold statement for someone who looked like an ordinary person. Nonetheless, Jesus repeatedly asserted that He and God were One. Ruminating over His statement we can assert with absolute certainty that the spiritual activity of His inner being was solely centered around God. We can probably also say that the manifest presence of God the Father along with the intricacies of God's omnipotence was the foremost reality in Christ Jesus. Although He dwelt among us in human form, His interaction with us was driven from a unique relationship with the Father, and the fruit of His unique relationship with the Father is expressed in the Gospels which ultimately results in our salvation.
Being in full contact with God's power, Jesus healed people, performed miracles, and dispensed truth and wisdom. Jesus did not "keep" His mind on man, He had an eye, a spiritual eye, on God the Father only. (John 5:19) Can we apply the same principle to ourselves, and is it okay to do so?
In John 15:20, Jesus stated these word's, "Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than His master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also." This statement reflects close unity and equality with Christ based on obedience and our willingness to be adherents of His word.
In John 15:5, Jesus states, "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. I am the vine you are the branch." Another scripture about our unity in the life of the Father with who all things are possible.
And in John 17:21 Jesus prays that we may be fully one with Him and the Father, "that all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also ... I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me".
The instruction to our spiritual eyes solely on God the Father through Jesus is not only supported but Jesus made the effort to pray that we may in fact enter into that wholesome unity.
Logically speaking, nothing else makes sense. If we keep our on the ways of man and all it's imperfections can we develop with God's mind? Impossible. Much like planting and apple seed and expecting an orange tree, keeping our mind on God cultivates our relationship with God while probably increasing our exposure to God heavenly realms where possibilities abound.
And finally, Jesus spoke, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 Just like Jesus let the Father's light shine in word, thought, and action, Jesus commands us to to do the same.
So yes, it is okay to employ a discipline that puts God first. By doing so we honor God and He honors us with the power to do more.
The Proven Science Behind God's Word
You might think this is great advise, and you might even try it. I'm going to advise you to make this practice a full time endeavor. This doesn't mean you need to quit your job, move, or make drastic changes to your life. Quite the contrary. Trying to eliminate barriers to make your practice easier only diminishes the outcome. The best place to start exactly where you are.
This mental practice which Jesus call us to practice does not require special equipment. The most important aspects of keeping your mind on God is self-awareness and persistence. Once you become self aware of your thoughts and diligently let go as it appears, then place your mind in God's care, you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier life.
But don't take my word for it. Instead, let me share with you what Barbara Fredrickson, positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina discovered in two separate studies (1) (2). Her findings were so important that they were published by the National Institutes of Health.
Her landmark study provides surprising insights about how a positive thought process impacts our skills and is among the most referenced and cited in the field.
It's been widely known that negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts on any immediate perceived threat. The perceptual narrowing closes the mind to the world and focuses all energy on the impending doom.
This instinctual mechanism is useful to save life and limb, but when consciously, or unconsciously, and continually practiced it closes off the brain from the outside world and focuses on the negative along with associated emotions, fear, anger, and stress. So the brain locks itself from seeing other options and choices that surround it.
Experiencing positive emotions has a different effect. Through experimentation Fredrickson concluded experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, a person will see more possibilities in life. In other words, we have more neurological activity. Her findings were among the first to suggested that positive emotions broaden our sense of possibility. Positive thought opens our mind and it reveals more options to us.
And that was just the beginning.
Later she discovered that positive feelings linked to a positive mindset enhances our ability to build skills and develop internal resources to use later in life. The happiness we get from "seeing" a positive outcome can further emphasize future ideological positive scenarios that are further emboldened with positive emotions.
Fredrickson calls this the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotions broaden our mental sense of possibilities. The broadening of possibilities in the mind can lead to building new skills and developing internal resources that support a sustained positive vision.
So while negative emotions destroy the mind, positive emotions build the mind. Looking at the example Jesus left for us, having a mind focused on our eternal God with whom we have salvation can definitely be categorized as a positive mindset. Can you think of anyone more positive than God?
There is no room for man and his dealings and errors in your mind. The calamities of the world must take a back seat to our complete effort in unity with God. In our unity with God through Christ Jesus we are better able to serve others in their distress. Just like Jesus we will be able to give God's best to others as needed. If our mind is on man we won't be able to love God fully, or others for that matter.
Keeping our mind meditatively focused on God this way allows us to rule with God from His throne. Keeping our mind on God's holy and pure things (Philippians 4:8) is a discipline that requires from us self awareness and persistence.
If you overcome the wondering ways of the carnal mind with the true ways of God you will rule life from God's throne (Revelation 3:21) and more possibility will become evident. You will grow, learn, and shine brilliantly and it's been scientifically proven. How great is our God!
We love you and we're praying for you. God bless you. Please tell us what meditative tactics you employ to keep your mind on God all day.
P.S. Wondering about Jack? After about a year the company was dissolved due to "lack of public interest". I moved on to get my real estate license and never saw Jack again. In 1999 he was probably in his 60's so if he's still alive he's probably in his 80's. None of this concerns me though. I know I'm going to meet him in the kingdom, and what a glorious time we will all have! God bless you.