A professor engaged a group of college students in an experiment, and instructed them, “Think about a polar bear and every time you do, hit the bell.” Each student, one at a time, tried the test, and continuously hit the bell. Ding. Ding ding. Ding ding.  

Shortly after, the researchers returned and said, “Don’t think about a polar bear, but if you do, hit the bell.”

The participants considered, “Don’t think about a…” Ding. “Alright, what am I not thinking about? A…” Ding. “A…” Ding. Ding ding. They tapped the bell again and again. That’s like me. The more I try not to think about something, the more I think about it.

The third time the experimenters entered, they said, “Here’s a magazine, and don’t think about a polar bear, but if you do, hit the bell.” The students hit it, “Ding,” as they opened the magazine. Then they started reading and, surprise, there were no more bells!   

The Bible encourages me to rejoice in the Lord always, continually rehearsing confidence in how He’ll manifest His names on my behalf. God tells me not to be anxious or worried about anything. I’m not to rehearse thinking about my own inability and lack of wisdom. No bells are to be rung. Letting my requests for God’s manifestations be known to God by prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving in every situation, relationship, thought, and passion leads me to hear His voice.

My agreement with God’s will, known and unknown, surpasses all understanding, and will guard my heart and mind through the same power Jesus exhibited. That peace or agreement acts as umpire and judge of my thoughts and desires. In whatever state I’m in, I need to be content, trusting God to provide for me that which keeps me linked to Him (Philippians 4:4, 6-7, 11).

Kent is interim director of music at Church of Our Savior and teaches music at Loretta Elementary School in Mandarin. See more devotions here.