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  • by Barb Shelton

How to "Take Every Thought Captive"!

Do you, like me, tend to carry a lot of “weighty matters” in your heart?!? Things that weigh you down emotionally, overwhelm you, give you a sense of foreboding and dread, make you feel anywhere from inept to hopeless, and snuff out your joy?

There IS a solution, and it's in II Corinthians 10:5:

"...and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

"Taking every thought captive" is a great idea, and I know what it means generally, but I have not been very good at actually implementing this into my own life! Too often I get overwhelmed by these thoughts that have mounted up in my mind like a pile-up on the freeway, congesting and even stopping the flow of normal thought traffic in my head.

Analogies help me "see" things more clearly, which, in turn, helps me know how to do something that's difficult for me. The Lord recently gave me a tool to help me understand and implement this concept of "taking every thought captive" ~ which I'm excited to share with you.

Not all thoughts are created equal, of course, so only certain thoughts need to be taken captive. The ones that need to be "made obedient to Christ" are those that concern me and weigh heavily on my heart; any thoughts in the atmosphere of my thought life that wreak havoc on my peace.

Here's what I'd like the terrain of my mind to look like on a normal basis:

Green pasture with corral / How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

Peaceful, with any unwelcome, havoc-wreaking thoughts rounded up into that fenced area!

But instead, obnoxious, pesky, mood-darkening thoughts run wild in my head, having a free-for-all on the otherwise serene countryside of my mine, trampling my peace as easily as wild horses trample flowers!!!

These thoughts can be anything, like:

  • things I'm confused or unclear on and need to ask the Lord about and get His perspective and/or direction on,

  • hard things I need to bring to Him and surrender at His feet,

  • sins I need to drag out into the light before Him, confess as sin, repent of, and ask forgiveness for,

  • others I need to allow to soak in His presence and get healed,

  • and others I need to put in a pan on a back burner, put a secure lid on it, and not even think about it until the Lord brings it back to my mind to deal with – another time, with Him.

These thoughts dart around in my head like an asteroid shower, whacking me when I least expect it, and dragging me down emotionally.

Asteroids (thoughts) assaulting planet (my mind) / How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

(Actual depiction of thoughts hitting my mind!)

Some days these thoughts can gather like storm clouds, gang up on me, and totally derail me, knocking the wind out of my sails.

The cumulative result is that the heaviness of these thoughts often tempts me to EAT in an attempt to quiet them down or numb them – which, of course, never works. In fact, it only adds yet another "weighty matter" to the whirling mix!

For others, it might compel you to some other thing that's harmful to you ~ drugs... alcohol... excessive shopping... or any number of things we use to numb pain.

It occurred to me that this whole crazy, destructive process is not the Lord's will for my life! It's a LIE, not the TRUTH, that I have to live this way! Even if it only happens once in a while, it's still too much!!! (But, for me, it's more than just once in while; usually a few times a week.)

God wants me to STOP allowing these haywire thoughts to assail me!

So, instead, I need to take God up on His offer of giving me a "spirit of power, and love, and a sound mind," take the proverbial bull by the horns, and round up these thoughts, taking each one of them captive and putting them all into a "corral" where I can deal with each of them, one at a time, as I have time.

One thing I know for certain is that God does not want everything to be out on the forefront of my mind at one time. It really just doesn't work that way. Trying to deal with more than one heavy thought at a time only overwhelms me and completely freezes me in my tracks as we are capable of dealing with only one thing at a time.

Of course, as moms, women, and grandmothers, we are adept at multi-tasking, but not when it comes to dealing with our thought life.

So that’s exactly what I did yesterday! ~ I did some rounding up of some “wild horses” and corralling them into a pen – on paper!!

Corrals with animals / How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

Throughout the day, as thoughts came into my mind, rather than letting them harass and overwhelm me, I jotted them down, one at a time as they came.

By the time I got done, I felt pretty relieved and unloaded!! Of course, I still have much processing of these thoughts to do, but they are now corralled, and waiting their turn to be tended to ~ because I have a lot of work to do!​

I want to interject here that a major victory for me in doing this was that I did not get all perfect about it! The corral fence I drew is very uneven and rustic, and my writing is just legible enough that I can read it!

I would normally want to make a beautiful fence ~ complete with diagonal corners, shading, perhaps a nice wood grain, or at least whitewash it ~ and do my best writing, but instead I just let this be an exercise in dumping, not in perfectionism!

My sketch of corral with blurred thoughts / How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

(I blurred my writing only

because several of my points are not

appropriate for public viewing. 😉)

I have a little plan for what to do with all these concerns next, as in how to deal with them on this paper (which, by the way, is on the back of a page in my Thin Within study notebook…) Using a highlighter, I’m going to put a heart over each one after I’ve prayed it through.

  • If a concern is something I don't know what to do about, I will ask the Lord to show me how to deal with it.

  • If it's something that makes me sad, I will ask the Lord to lift the heaviness of it.

  • If it's a mess I don't know how to fix, I will ask the Lord for wisdom.

  • If it's a wound, I will show it to the Lord like a child shows an "owie" to Mom or Dad and expects it to be taken care of and fixed.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus invites us to Himself, saying:​​​

"Come to Me, all of you who are are weary and overburdened [by those many things that overwhelm you] and I WILL GIVE YOU REST." (Emphasis mine.)

And everything I'm sharing herein is doing exactly that. Coming to Him with all the stuff that has wearied and overburdened me. The rest He gives me comes as I cast all these cares on Him and let Him help me deal with it all. Rest isn't something you just "get"; it comes as a result of being unburdened.

At my age, (65), I have fixed a good number of messes, hard things, and "owies," (both literal and figurative) in the hearts and lives of people the Lord has brought my way. And what a JOY to be able to work with Him (working through me) to do this!

Teddy bear with patch / How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

But there are still many things I can't fix, that I need to have my Daddy-God tend to and help me deal with, instead of holding onto them and letting them pile up, fester, and go rotten inside me.

Some of these matters I may end up coming back to many more times, and, if so, I will just put another heart ~ in another color, of course ~ over that item in my corral! Some of them may end up with several layers of hearts on them if the matter is ongoing! But at least it will not continue to be a pesky, pain-producing asteroid zooming around in my head!

And if a concern ends up getting answered and becomes a “done deal” that I no longer need to pray about, I will thank God for this, and then put an X through it.

Or, if lots of things in my corral got dealt with and several new things come my way, I will just start a new "corral." 😉 (The perfectionist in me will just have to deal with the unfinished first corral.)

Even if you don't have very many weighty matters, you can just have a small corral with only a few rounded-up “weighty matters”! The main thing is just to get and keep them under control before they get out of hand ~ and consume you!

Farmland with white fences / How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

I will close with a little amplification I did of Hebrews 12:11, as the Lord applied it to this new "corralling" tool:

"For the moment, all discipline [in taking thoughts captive] seems painful [or pesky] rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [including a decluttered mind and rested heart] to those who have been trained [and whose thoughts have been corralled] by it."


Let me know

in a comment below

if you try this,

and how it worked

for you!

Hexagon graphic for: How to "Take Every Thought Captive"! /

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