In 1903, James Allen wrote the essay As a Man Thinketh based on Proverbs 23:7 which, in the King James Version of the Bible used a century ago, suggests “as a man [and presumably a woman] thinks in his heart, so is he.” Or as N.T. Wright would remind us, we become like that on which we focus. Allen’s essay submits that what we spend our time thinking about has a significant impact on who we become.
This morning as I was contemplating what I might want to post this week, I read a “Reading for Reflection” in the devotional guide I have used over the past 30 years, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. The reading contained an excerpt from Allen’s essay worthy of sharing…
“And you, too, youthful reader, will realize the Vision (not the idle wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both, for you will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most love. Into your hand will be placed the the exact results of your own thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less. Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise in your thoughts, your Vision, your Ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration… The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart – this you will build your life by, this you will become.” (My emphasis)
I have always suspected that what we focus on in our younger years comes out in full force in our last years on earth – crabby people get crabbier; happy people exude a grateful cheerfulness, even as the body deteriorates and life becomes more frustrating and dependent on others. As I grow older, I can’t help but wonder what type of resident I will be in a care center. 😕
Yesterday Barb and I attended the Celebration of Life for our dear friend Pat Feit, who passed away last Thursday. I have known Pat for a dozen years, half of which she had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Pat exuded grateful cheerfulness, even as she suffered from the debilitating disease. The Pat I knew had an outlook on life that came through the lens of her walk with Jesus. Others confirmed that yesterday. She became like that on which she focused – Jesus. She was Jesus to all those around her to the very end. As James Allen would suggest, Pat became as great as her dominant aspiration (Jesus) – on this she built her life, this she became.
Thanks be to God for models like Pat Feit!