“Make a movie in your mind.” I used to tell this to the runners I coached—a tactic I borrowed from one of my favorite coaches. You visualize your upcoming race. You see yourself pushing through hard parts, and you see yourself succeeding. Come race day, you remember the “movie” and things may start to pan out in a similar way. It doesn’t guarantee success to all who visualize. Only one person can win the race. But you will handle pressure and adversity better from visualizing than not.
Recently I pondered this thought: What if we used this concept in all of life’s “what ifs” and not only in preparation for a race? What if I lose a child? What if my spouse leaves me? What if I get thrown into prison for my faith? What if I get diagnosed with cancer?
I don’t mean to encourage us in worrying about the “what ifs”, for we know what the book of James says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own.” I think of it like this: whenever life tempts us to worry, let’s make a movie in our mind. Let’s decide how we will respond. And to decide how we will respond we must know how we should respond. We should respond with God’s Word—something that gives us hope, something with a promise from God, something that will help us remember God’s faithfulness, or something that will cause us to praise him despite how dreadful the circumstance.
I can’t say I’m good at this. I tend to dwell on the worst possible outcome and grieve like its already happening—without an attitude of praise and with a mind full of anxiety. But I was good at making a movie in my mind before a race in college. And I saw how it helped me make the right and difficult decision when I ran the actual race. I pushed harder when I didn’t feel like it because I reached the point where I pushed harder in the “movie” as if it was already decided for me.
Can I do this when it comes to the race of faith? Will I decide to praise God when the worst happens—when I don’t feel like it? Perhaps I should visualize myself quoting certain scriptures, lifting my hands up in praise, loving my enemy, or singing on my death bed. And perhaps because I am already deciding that I will, I will be more likely to. Yet any victory ultimately comes from God’s grace whether a physical race or the believer’s.