Daily D – John 1:47-48
As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” JOHN 1:47-48 (NLT)
Parents are told to “Catch your kids doing something right and compliment them for it.” This works well with spouses also. Employees and students like it. Most people like being caught at their best.
Jesus caught Nathanael at his best. And precisely when was that? He was sitting alone under a fig tree. Please do not rush past that last sentence. Nathanael was alone. He was sitting under a fig tree.
Amazing things happen when we sit under trees and think deep thoughts. Ask Sir Isaac Newton. Long before he was Sir, he was a young man pondering imponderables when the overripe apple fell. Consider Thoreau at Walden Pond. He took long walks alone with his thoughts. Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism talks about the value of daily walks in nature. Thinking deep thoughts alone in natural settings straightens the tangled thought pathways of our minds.
Jesus and Nate never disclose what Nate was thinking under that fig tree. Jesus knew. Nate knew. Jesus called Nate “a man of complete integrity.” He caught Nate thinking the right thoughts, the kinds of thoughts which turn into right actions, the kinds of actions which build better lives, better families, better workplaces, better communities, indeed, a better world.
For the last month or so, I have been reading Teresa of Avila’s classic, The Interior Castle. This is not the kind of book one rushes through. Long story short, this has led to consciously inviting Jesus into every thought and every moment. The first day of this experiment was wonderfully rewarding. The next day, well, let’s just say I had an uncomfortable moment or two.
Let us rest beneath the fruit tree of our choice for a moment. We have walked in silence together for a bit, lost in our thoughts. The easy preacher question here is, “Would Jesus call you a person of complete integrity because of your private thoughts?” That is worth the ponder now and anon.
Let’s say, however, Jesus was being a good big brother and caught us setting our minds on something noble and good in the style of Phil. 4:8. What thoughts would he compliment? What thoughts are there which are building blocks toward living a life of true integrity?
What if you and I focused more on those kinds of things rather than all the offenses and irritations of life? How would our lives differ?
Since beginning my experiment with Teresa of Avila, several thought pathways have been completely interrupted. I can no longer comfortably return to those well-worn rationalizations and justifications of the past. Reading, praying, and pondering create such an effect, don’t they?
One more question: What will Jesus catch you doing today that will bring a genuine compliment? Let’s think about that.
I will think thoughts worthy of affirmation and praise.
Our Father, fill my mind with your thoughts. I want to love you and honor you with all my mind. I want you to be able to catch me thinking the kinds of thoughts which turn into actions that edify and encourage, strengthen and serve. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.