do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:6–9
While attending Baylor University, I was fortunate to take a class designated as “Packard Physics.” Dr. Packard’s liberal grading scale made it a hugely popular class (even for the athletes that were simply looking for a passing grade). However, what made it memorable was that Dr. Packard rarely let a class go by without some sort of experiment. He often appeared as a bit of a mad scientist, but ask anyone who graduated from Baylor before 2000, and they likely know the legend.
One day when explaining density, Dr. Packard filled a beaker with a brown gas. (I believe it was called Bromine.) He then asked a volunteer to try to get the Bromine out of the beaker, which seemed all but impossible as the gas hugged the sides of the flask without any sign of relenting. It turns out that the solution was simple. When Dr. Packard poured water into the beaker, the liquid’s density forced the gas right out.
I share this story because I believe this is the analogy that best fits the “whatever”s found in the passage above. When we focus on the things of God (and more importantly on the God who gave his Son to die for us, which is, of course, the best example of excellent, praiseworthy, pure, honorable, true, etc.), then we force out those lesser anxieties that are clinging to the walls of our brains and hearts.
Don’t let anxiety and heavy burdens occupy your thoughts. Remember that whenever your mind gets stuck on repeat, there is only one escape. You must force it out with weightier, spiritual thoughts. The things of God and the work of Jesus are the antidotes to toxic thinking. Hang in there and fix those spiritual eyes, and your mind, on Jesus. Trust me. It’s an experiment that you won’t ever forget!