The Battlefield of the Mind
“ I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before...all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.”
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The Devil is in the Details
Spiritual warfare exists in the battlefield of the mind. It sounds a bit dramatic and intense, but think about it - our minds are our greatest superpower. They are the thing that directs our emotions and actions, our inaction and our hearts. It is the thoughts we choose to allow or will into being that make or break our mental fortitude and the rest follows.
Now it’s important to make very clear a few things at the beginning:
God is 10 billion times more powerful than the devil.
The devil can only enter into our lives if we consent to it.
If we are in a state of grace, the devil cannot enter into the higher part of our intellect, aka our souls.
What the devil primarily does to mess with our lives is to be the equivalent of an obnoxious gnat. He flits around, distracting us with doubt, useless buzzing in our minds that causes us to wonder if so and so had good intent, if God really does care that you are in pain, and if you really have what it takes to live the life you are in. It’s white noise. The problem is, if we turn up the volume by listening, then God’s voice does become harder to hear and it becomes more and more difficult for us to adjust the dial to the right radio frequency.
There is something so beautiful about clear thinking. I feel on top of the world sometimes when I can identify a problem, sift through possible solutions and implement - all from a place of quiet confidence and trust. It’s amazing, almost an out of body experience. Just so, it is equally painful when I can’t think through a situation, when my emotions roar so loudly in my head that logic can’t enter in. Ultimately, a low level of panic will start to set in from the confusion and overstimulation of mental chatter.
The devil is in the details. Most of the time, I think it’s just a little nudge that tips us into doubt, confusion, panic, worry, rumination and stagnant anger. The devil may not be a contender for God, but if we forget to stay close to God, he can pin us in a single move simply by plotting us against ourselves.
I had a poster in college that often made me chuckle at myself, “I've got 99 problems and 98 of them are completely random made-up scenarios in my head that I am stressing about for absolutely no logical reason.” I buffer with mental distractions. Isn’t that funny? Instead of sitting in an uncomfortable emotion, I will allow my brain to drift to the most dramatic scenario I can come up with, which inevitably leads me into panic. I’m certain my pulse races, my palms sweat, and my brain thinks my life is being threatened.
I often think of my mental chaos as the inside of a sound-proof room. Someone standing on the outside looking in just sees a placid face. Birds are chirping in their background and the sun is shining warmly on them, and they perceive nothing to be wrong. But on the other side of the wall, the inside of my head, is a cacophony of panic and mental explosions! Again..a bit dramatic, but some part of me is drawn to the drama. Whether it’s because it distracts me from the present pain or I find some part of it thrilling… I think a little bit of both… it definitely never leads to quiet, calm, prayer and surrender, which is exactly what the devil wants. He likes noise because when it’s noisy, we can’t think things through and when it’s noisy it makes it very hard to detect subtle movements and whispers, which is often how God speaks to us.
I once read that intuition is our direct line to God. He is so gentle that He doesn’t even use words most of the time. He uses our thoughts, our mind. It is through our mind that God speaks to us, so does it not make sense that this is exactly where the devil assaults us in battle? This is where spiritual warfare takes place - in the battlefield of the mind.
What is the first tactic we can use to keep ourselves in safe territory? Make time each day to get quiet and draw near to God. During little pockets throughout the day, reconnect, even if it’s just a gaze upward or a line of a prayer. To intentionally take time to get quiet and draw near is the spiritual equivalent of positioning yourself in friendly territory and donning your armor. Not a day goes by that we are not flooded with thoughts. This can be the ammunition of the devil if we do not place our thoughts in God's hands. So each day, align your mind to Him. Each day, we must prepare for battle.