“…How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” – Jer. 4:14
One of the meanings of the word “lodge” is to become “firmly fixed or embedded in a particular place.” God uses these words in His accusations and pleas to His people through the prophet, Jeremiah. In the first part of the verse, He implores Israel with the words, “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved,” followed by the question, “How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee.?” When I read these words, it occurred to me, these are not fleeting thoughts, random woolgathering, they’re useless images that have been allowed to become fixed within our minds. And the sad thing is, they’re “vain,” not even worth a minute’s consideration, much less a permanent residence in our minds. Knowing the Holy Spirit had directed me to these words to fix something in my own life, I began to consider what kind of thinking could always be designated as vain. Here’s what came to mind immediately.
First, over analysis of the unchangeable past will always be an exercise in futility for the obvious reason: It can’t be changed. And any bad consequences that may have resulted from it requires only acknowledgement, forgiveness (of ourselves and/or others), and resolve to live successfully with any scars. Any rumination beyond that is vain. Those thoughts should be rooted out, dislodged from our minds.
Second, any fixation on the unaccountable present is wasted thinking, since the ultimate evaluation will always be, “It’s not really any of your business.” I haven’t lived this long not have learned that the greater part of any inward turmoil and stress I may experience comes from worrying about people and situations that God has not put under my personal control. Pray, yes; but fret, and worse yet, interfere, no! It’s a waste of thought and actions. All the time spent agonizing in our minds about other people’s choices makes us ill-prepared for the responsibilities God has given us at this stage in our own lives. Such are vain thoughts, long over due for excavation.
Third, over speculation of the unknown future can rob you of the joy that God has promised to His children, along with His peace and rest. Everything we need to know about the future God has told us in His Word. We know it’s in His control, no matter how things may appear. If we are one of His children, anything that happens to us personally, good or bad (humanly speaking), is for our good. We know that when we leave the consciousness of this world and our loved ones, we will immediately become more conscious of the presence of Jesus Christ, in a way we could only dream of here. Anything else about the future is only incidental to this. Plan responsibly for what may happen in the meantime, but know that this all can change over night. Incessant thoughts about the when, where, and how’s of the future should be rooted out to make room for contemplation of the glory that awaits us.
I wonder if these words of rebuke from God in Jeremiah struck a blow to your heart as they did to mine? The unchangeable past, the unaccountable present, and the unknowable future: Vain thoughts allowed to lodge, to embed themselves in our minds like unmovable rocks. It’s time to dislodge them. It’s time to dig them out!
“You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.” – Martin Luther