Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Find and Replace

As a full-time writer with an extremely busy schedule, I make a point of utilizing every shortcut and helpful hint I can find, provided the quality of the job doesn't suffer.  When it comes to writing, one of my favorites shortcuts is a little feature called "Find and Replace" in my word processing software.  This little gem is a life-saver to writers, like myself, who tend to overuse certain words, change the name of a character half-way through the story, or forget the spelling of a particular name--spelling it one way in some places and a different way in others (i.e. Philip versus Phillip).  Don't laugh!  It happens. . . unfortunately, more often than I would like to admit.  Anyway, with this handy little feature of "Find and Replace," I can do just that.  In the "find" box, I type in the word/name that I want to change, and in the "replace" box, I type in what I want to change it to.  Then, like magic, the software finds all the occurrences of that word and changes it to the new word.  Do you have any idea how much time that saves?  What a blessing!

Some days, though, I find myself wishing my brain had a "Find and Replace" feature.  If it did, I could easily replace my thoughts of worry, anxiety and stress with those of peace, tranquility and trust.  Bitterness, anger and frustration would be replaced with happiness, satisfaction and contentment.  Gone would be the thoughts that weigh me down and the words that tear others down.  In their place would be uplifting anthems of praise and encouragement toward my fellow man.  Think of it, to be able to change our thoughts and emotions with the click of a button.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

Unfortunately, I know of no such button (but if you do, please contact me).  That being said, the Bible does offer us many other avenues to find and replace our negative thoughts and attitudes.  While they are not shortcuts and thus require a lot of work, they are effective and a necessary part of any Christian life.  My favorite of these is Philippians 4:8.  If you've followed my writing for any length of time, you know that I refer to this verse a lot.  The reason behind that is actually a bit embarrassing, but I'll share it with you nonetheless (the things I do for ya'll!)

I am over-analytical to a fault.   If something seems too easy, my default setting is to think that it must be a trick question.  I analyze and analyze and analyze.  Does this mean what I really think it means?  That can't be right because that was far too easy.  I feel like God is saying this, but I'm not sure if it's His voice or my own desires.  See the pattern?  Now, you're probably wondering what that has to do with Philippians 4:8, right?  Simply this.  Philippians 4:8 is blunt and to the point.  There is no room for analytical thinking.  There is no room for discussion or explanation.  It says what it means and means what it says, and there's really no mistaking its message.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

See what I mean?  It says, "Think on these things," and then it gives us a list to go by.  That's like me sending my husband to the store, handing him a list of items, and saying, "Buy these things."  He doesn't have to figure out what I mean.  He doesn't have to determine if there's some hidden meaning behind the word "milk."  He takes the list and buys those things (and usually some extra things that catch his fancy, but we won't go there right now).  My point is that Philippians 4:8 acts as our "Find and Replace" feature.  While it doesn't automatically change our thoughts and attitudes for us, it does help us to locate what belongs and what doesn't.  It gives us a step-by-step checklist of what should be there and what needs to be replaced with something else.  I love that!

I'll be honest--very few writing projects go by without the use of the "Find and Replace" feature at least once.  It is a valuable tool, and I take advantage of its benefits.  My prayer today is that each of us will be as faithful in utilizing the Word of God to find the things that don't belong in our lives, hearts or minds and replace them with the things that do.  I encourage you to begin with Philippians 4:8.  It will point out the majority of the problem areas.

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