Friday, July 18, 2014

DEVOTION: The Pink Elephant ~ by Shirley Corder


Our minister was preaching on Philippians chapter 4, stressing the need to remain “in the Lord” at all times.

Suddenly, he leaned forward and said to us, “I don’t want you to think about a pink elephant. Do you hear me? Please don’t think about a pink elephant. I don’t want you thinking about his large pink ears, his long thick pink trunk, his enormous pink body, or his tiny pink tail. Don’t think about a pink elephant!”

He paused, then smiled and said, “So what are you thinking about?”

The congregation answered with one voice, “A pink elephant!”

He went on to point out the importance of keeping our minds focused on the Lord and on the good things of life. That as we filled out minds with thoughts of “pink elephants” they would govern our thinking. It’s not possible to “stop thinking" about something negative. The only solution is to fill our minds with other, positive thoughts.

In Ruth chapter 1 we read how Orpah and her sister-in-law Ruth committed themselves to following their mother-in-law Naomi back to her old country, Judah. Then suddenly in verse 16, Orpah changes her mind. Ever wondered why?

Orpah sincerely loved her mother-in-law. She wanted to follow her back to her home country. She was prepared to make the sacrifice and leave her family, her gods, and her old way of life. She said her farewells, and she took the first steps down the road with Naomi and Ruth. 

But it would appear she couldn’t stop thinking of all she was leaving behind. Her family. Her friends. Her known way of life. She had spent ten years married to an Israelite and with Naomi as her mother-in-law, so she would have been aware of some of the horrors and evil in the Canaanite culture. But it was the life she knew. The future loomed large and frightening before her.
Suddenly she realized she couldn’t go through with it. It was too big a sacrifice. She loved Naomi and she loved Ruth, but the more she thought of all she was leaving behind, the more turmoil she experienced. There were limits to how much she could go through. The farther she travelled, the more difficult it would be to change her mind. She had to make a decision—and so she stopped in the road. “I can’t do this. I need to go home.”

Do you have a decision to make that has far-reaching consequences? Is your mind full of regrets or indecision? Do you have cancer or some other dread disease, and you can't stop thinking about it? Are you struggling with an issue right now? I often do, especially in the middle of the night. I can usually control my thinking during the day, but in those dark hours when I lie awake, I find it more difficult. The more I try to stop thinking about the problem, the more I struggle with it.

Thanks to my minister’s sermon, I now know what to do when this happens. I have to stop struggling to put it out of my mind and rather focus on good things. I need to think about the Lord and all the plans He has for me, then I will automatically stop concentrating on the problem. My mind can only cope with so much at a time. If I fill it with the Lord and His goodness, there is no room for a pink elephant.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

How about you? Is there a pink elephant in your mind today that you need to push out with positive thoughts? Please leave a comment below.


SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her time in the cancer valley, where she collected many pink elephants.

Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com, where she encourages writers, or at RiseAndSoar.com, where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook.

22 comments:

  1. Thank you, Vonda. I love this analogy.

    You simply can't not think about a thing. It's akin to breaking a bad habit. It's impossible if you don't replace it with a different habit.

    So if you want to quit something, start doing something else instead.

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    1. :-) Pleasure, Judith. The name is Shirley by the way! LOL! You're right. You can't NOT think about it - yet so often we say, or we're told, "Stop worrying about it." It makes more sense to "Start thinking about...."

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  2. Thank you, Shirley. An excellent message!

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    1. Thanks Sara. Glad you found it helpful.

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  3. Good word, Shirley. Very powerful and thought-provoking.

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    1. Thanks Val. I enjoyed drawing some truths out of this ancient story!

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  4. Staying focused on God is the best way to get rid of negative thoughts. It won't make the trouble go away, but God will fill us with his grace each moment of the day and bring us through.

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    1. So right, Debra. I'm trying to put that into practice right now!

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  5. Gotta get that pink ekephant out of My mind now. It's a good point Shirl!

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    1. LOL! Forget about dealing with the pink elephant Rita! Bring on the lions!

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  6. This is something that hits home to most of us, I'm sure. I've been really trying to teach my children as well as the import ants of focusing on what is good and pure. . .So important to take those thoughts captive. Thank you for the reminder, Shirl!

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    1. Thanks for this reminder too Lisa. "Whatsoever things are pure . . . " That sums up this message!

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  7. You are sooo right! And I agree about the middle of the night thing. I hate it when it pops up while you're in a deep sleep! Your devotional sounds amazing, and I'm going to buy it!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Jenn. Yes, somehow those middle-of-the-night pink elephants are particularly persistent! Enjoy Strength Renewed!

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  8. Shirley, Love this. Pink elephants get in my way so often.:-) Good post.

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    1. Thank you Clella. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  9. Thanks Mary. I just loved the story when I first read it.

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  10. I love this devotional thought, Shirley. Thanks for posting.

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  11. Nice post Shirl!
    I had a pink elephant in my head this morning after my annual checkup...gotta wait to get the all clear tomorrow.
    But your reminder has helped me to keep my mind on the Cross!!
    I posted a comment but am not quite sure if it went through.
    Just in case it didn't...thanks for the thoughts you shared!
    Sue Peters

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    1. Thanks Sue. I posted this for you as it hasn't gone through. Yes, all of us who are cancer survivors have that huge pink elephant that keeps on showing his ugly figure!

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