You Can Break Through These Barriers!
A JUMBO jet may take aboard hundreds of passengers and tons of cargo. How can such a heavy aircraft get off the ground? Simply, by means of lift.
When the plane hurtles down the runway, the air rushes over and under the curved wings. This produces an upward force called lift. When sufficient lift is generated, the craft can break free of the ground and fly. Of course, an overloaded plane cannot generate sufficient lift to become airborne.
We also can become overloaded. Centuries ago, King David said that his ‘errors were like a load too heavy for him.’ (Psalm 38:4) Likewise, Jesus Christ warned against becoming weighed down with the anxieties of life. (Luke 21:34) Negative thoughts and feelings can weigh us down to the extent that it may seem difficult to get “airborne.” Are you weighed down in that way? Or have you experienced some barrier to your further spiritual development? If so, what may be helpful?
Are You Bored?
Boredom—a common complaint today—can become a mental barrier, even for some of Jehovah’s people. Young ones especially have the tendency to dismiss some activities as boring. Do you sometimes feel that way about Christian meetings? If so, what can you do to make your meeting attendance stimulating?
Getting involved is the key. Paul wrote to the young man Timothy: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7, 8) A book on fitness would be boring and of limited value if we did not follow through on the recommended exercises. Christian meetings are designed to exercise our minds and will do so if we prepare and participate. This involvement will make meetings more rewarding and interesting.
In this regard, a young Christian woman named Mara said: “If I don’t prepare for the meetings, I don’t enjoy them. When I have prepared beforehand, however, my mind and heart are more receptive. The meetings become more meaningful, and I look forward to commenting.”
Learning to listen will also help. Listening to good music is easy and immediately pleasurable. But not all satisfaction is instantaneous. We derive satisfaction from the meeting program only when we listen closely to what is said. A Christian named Rachel observed: “When the speaker is not lively, I need to concentrate very hard. The rule for me is, ‘The less absorbing the talk, the more I need to concentrate.’ . . . I pay special attention to the scriptures, trying to gain as much from them as possible.” We need to discipline ourselves, like Rachel, in order to listen. The book of Proverbs says: “My son, to my wisdom O do pay attention. To my discernment incline your ears.”—Proverbs 5:1.
Certain information presented at the meetings may be somewhat repetitive. Necessarily so! All of God’s servants need reminders. The imperfect flesh, with its wayward leanings and faulty memory, needs all the help it can get. The apostle Peter ‘was disposed to remind fellow believers of some things, although they knew them and were firmly set in the truth.’ (2 Peter 1:12) Jesus also explained that “every public instructor . . . is like a man, a householder, who brings out of his treasure store things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52) Thus, while our meetings bring out familiar Scriptural thoughts, or ‘old treasures,’ there are always some ‘new treasures’ to delight us.
Being determined to take full advantage of the meetings can result in a real spiritual lift. “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need [those who are beggars for the spirit],” Jesus said. (Matthew 5:3, footnote) Such an attitude toward the wholesome spiritual food provided at meetings will banish boredom.—Matthew 24:45-47.
Discouraged by a Bad Example?
Have you been upset by the conduct of someone in your congregation? Perhaps you have wondered, ‘How can a brother behave like that and still be in good standing?’ Such thoughts can act as a mental barrier, blinding us to the value of the pleasant companionship we can have with God’s people.—Psalm 133:1.
Perhaps some members of the congregation at Colossae had a similar problem. Paul exhorted them: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” (Colossians 3:13) Paul recognized that some Colossian Christians may have behaved badly and thus may have given others genuine cause for complaint. So we should not be unduly surprised if one of our brothers or sisters is occasionally lacking in some Christian quality. Jesus gave sound counsel on settling serious difficulties. (Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:15-17) But most of the time, we can just put up with the limitations of fellow believers and forgive them. (1 Peter 4:8) In fact, such an approach can be for our own good and that of others. Why is this the case?
“The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression,” says Proverbs 19:11. How much better it is to forgive than to allow anger and resentment to fester! Salvador, an elder known for his loving spirit, said: “When a brother treats me badly or says something unkind, I ask myself: ‘How can I help my brother? How can I avoid losing my precious relationship with him?’ I am always conscious of how easy it is to say the wrong thing. If someone speaks thoughtlessly, the ideal solution would be for him to take back what he said and start all over again. But that is impossible, so I take the next best course and ignore the comment. I just put it down to an outburst of the imperfect flesh rather than to a reflection of my brother’s true self.”
You may feel that doing this is more easily said than done. But a lot has to do with the way we channel our thinking. “Whatever things are lovable, . . . continue considering these things,” counseled Paul. (Philippians 4:8) “Lovable” literally means “affection-inducing.” Jehovah wants us to consider what is good in people, to focus on that which induces affection rather than resentment. He himself gives us the supreme example in this respect. The psalmist reminded us of this, saying: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand?”—Psalm 103:12; 130:3.
True, on occasion the conduct of a brother may be disappointing, but the vast majority of our fellow worshipers are splendid examples of Christian living. If we remember this, like David we will be happy ‘to laud Jehovah very much and to praise him in among many people.’—Psalm 109:30.
Does Being a Witness Seem Too Difficult?
Sadly, because of another mental barrier, some have not yet begun to praise Jehovah. Many men who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses responsibly provide for their families and even support their wives in the Christian ministry. They are friendly and may take an interest in the congregation, but they refrain from becoming dedicated servants of God. What is holding them back?
One problem may be that these husbands notice the busy theocratic activity of their wives and feel that being a Witness is too demanding. Or possibly they fear that they could never engage in the house-to-house preaching work. From their viewpoint, the responsibilities seem to overshadow the blessings. Why the mental barrier? Most Bible students learn and apply the truth gradually. But unbelieving husbands are often very much aware of all the Christian responsibilities before they have built up the motivation to accept them.
Manuel, who was in this situation, explains: “For about ten years, I accompanied my wife to the assemblies and to the meetings. To be honest, I preferred the company of Witnesses to that of people of the world, and I was happy to help them when I could. I was impressed by the love that prevailed among them. But the idea of going from house to house was a big obstacle for me, and I was afraid that my workmates would make fun of me.
“My wife was very patient with me and never tried to force me to study the Bible. Both she and the children ‘preached’ mainly by their good example. José, an elder in the congregation, took a special interest in me. I think it was his encouragement that finally made me begin to study seriously. After getting baptized, I realized that the obstacles were in my own mind more than anything else. Once I decided to serve Jehovah, I experienced his help in overcoming my fears.”
How can wives and Christian elders help husbands like Manuel to overcome their mental barrier? A Bible study may build appreciation and a desire to do God’s will. Indeed, well-rounded Scriptural knowledge is the basis for exercising faith and having confidence in the hope ahead.—Romans 15:13.
What will encourage such husbands to accept a Bible study? Often, friendship with an understanding brother in the congregation can be a deciding factor. Perhaps an elder or another experienced brother could get to know the husband. Once a good relationship is established, all that he may need is for someone to offer to study with him. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) Meanwhile, the discreet Christian wife can share spiritual morsels with her unbelieving husband, realizing that he is not likely to respond to pressure.—Proverbs 19:14.
As Manuel learned by experience, once a person gains spiritual strength, mountainous obstacles become more like molehills. Jehovah invigorates those who desire to serve him. (Isaiah 40:29-31) In God’s strength and with the support of mature Witnesses, barriers may be removed. The house-to-house work can thus become less daunting and workmates less intimidating, while whole-souled service becomes more appealing.—Isaiah 51:12; Romans 10:10.
It is possible to break through barriers such as the three we have considered. When an airplane takes off, maximum engine power is normally required as well as the undivided attention of the flight crew. During takeoff, the engines gulp considerably more fuel than during any other part of the flight. Similarly, to break free from negative thoughts and feelings requires maximum effort and concentration. Getting started may be the most difficult phase, whereas progress becomes easier once momentum has been gained.—Compare 2 Peter 1:10.
Forward momentum is maintained by promptly heeding Scriptural encouragement. (Psalm 119:60) We can be sure that the congregation will want to help. (Galatians 6:2) Most important of all, however, is the support of Jehovah God. As David said, “blessed be Jehovah, who daily carries the load for us.” (Psalm 68:19) When we unburden ourselves in prayer, our load becomes lighter.
At times, an airplane leaves behind a rainy gray world, passes through a cloud layer, and flies into a sky full of bright sunshine. We too can leave behind negative thoughts. With divine help, we can break through the cloud layer, as it were, and bask in the bright, happy atmosphere of Jehovah’s worldwide family of worshipers.
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With Jehovah’s help, we can break through mental barriers