Two summers ago, we were outside and we smelled the strangest thing – a distinct aroma of mushrooms wafting through the air.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad smell, but it was incredibly powerful. If you can imagine someone spraying an aerosol can of mushroom air freshener right in your face, then you can grasp how intense this smell was.
We thought we were losing our minds for a little bit there, because we couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from. But eventually, we determined the source: an army of mushrooms was growing in the mulch beds lining both sides of the driveway.
It was easy to discern where they’d started growing, because the older mushrooms were rotting, and they were covered in swarms and swarms of gnats.
We got to work clearing them out. Many, many, many wheelbarrows were filled with mushrooms and hauled away. After hours of work, we figured our mushroom problems were over.
We were wrong, though.
A couple days later, the mushrooms were back. They’d grown up half the driveway. We couldn’t believe how fast they multiplied. So we went to battle again. And as we battled these mushrooms throughout that summer, we learned about their nature. (Note: We don’t even know what type of mushrooms these are. We haven’t read up on them or anything. Everything we’ve learned about these mushrooms has been from practical experience and observation.) Here’s what we know:
They favor certain conditions. For whatever reason, they seem to love these particular mulch beds by the driveway. They also love the heat. When it gets hot and stays hot for a few days, we know to be on the lookout. It’s only a matter of time before they show up.
They multiply quickly. If left unchecked, these mushrooms will double or even triple in volume every single day. Evidently, a little fungus leads to a lot more fungus.
Eventually, they rot. You have to get the mushrooms out as soon as you can, because it doesn’t take long at all for them to rot. When they rot, they attract an unbelievable amount of bugs. And they stink.
So we did battle that summer, and we learned. This past summer, we stayed diligent, watching for the mushrooms and attacking them as soon as they showed up on the scene. Because we didn’t want our home to be surrounded by fungus – rotting, stinky, buggy fungus.
Who would want that? No one.
And yet, we can be so passive in letting the same exact thing happen in our minds and in our hearts.
In my last post, I told a story about a stolen macaroon to illustrate what happens when we let our guard down and invite attack from the enemy. I said we have a responsibility to “identify the thief at work” and to “pay attention and close up the gaps we’ve left open to attack.” And I mentioned we had a responsibly to do something else, too. Something I’d elaborate on later. So here it is:
We have a responsibility to be diligent in keeping our thoughts from becoming like these mushrooms.
One more Priscilla Shirer quote and then I promise I’ll try to stop quoting her for a while.
“How have your emotional health and behavioral choices reflected any patterns of defective thinking that the enemy has suggested and that you have perpetrated?”
When I read this question, I felt so convicted I could’ve crawled under a blanket and hid. Because it’s such a point-blank reminder that we’re responsible for what we let our minds dwell on.
You see, I’d like for it to be enough to just be cleaned up on the outside. To say and do the right things, but to let my thoughts wander where they will. It just seems like too much work sometimes, to clear the mushrooms out of my mind and throw them into the wheelbarrow where they belong. The truth is, though, it’s incredibly important work. Because it’s all connected. Our thoughts influence our hearts. And eventually, our hearts influence our actions. The Bible is clear that we should guard our hearts, because everything we do flows from our hearts. Every last thing. (Proverbs 4:23)
I don’t want everything I do to reek of fungus.
So I’m working on being more diligent to watch for the fungusy thoughts. And yeah, fungusy isn’t a word, but you get what I mean.
Fungusy thoughts show up when the conditions are right. Every time we dwell on fears and let our minds consider worst-case scenarios; every time we let disagreements fester into strained relationships, every time we scrutinize the character of someone else when Jesus makes it so clear that we’re to focus on ourselves (Matthew 7:3-5).
Yes, the fungusy thoughts show up, all right. But we are in control of what happens next. We decide whether we let them multiply and rot, or yank them out of the ground and throw them into the wheelbarrow before they have the chance to turn into a disgusting, overwhelming mess. We have the ability to choose to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), to be renewed in the spirit of our minds and to give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:23 & 27). We don’t just have the ability to do so, we have the responsibility to do so.
Clearing out the fungusy thoughts isn’t a one-and-done deal. Because fungusy thoughts, by their very nature, are recurring and persistent.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wheelbarrow to fill up this morning. Maybe two…
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. (Psalms 139:1-2 ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)