May 3, 2009

Love the Lord your God with all your Mind

We are continuing to look at ways to Love the Lord our God. In the first 2 weeks in Eastertide (the time between Easter and Pentecost) we have explored Loving God with Heart and with Soul so we can know that we are loved and respond to that love by giving freely of ourselves.

This week we’ll move on to Loving the Lord your God with all your mind. It is very easy for me to get caught up in intellectualizing any problems or plans. I like to have all the steps laid out, if not on paper, at least in my mind, before I start anything.

Just reading the headlines in newspapers or on the internet, watching a few minutes of TV news, or listening to the radio in our car can easily give us cause to worry. No wonder we feel stressed and insecure when it feels that the very fabric of our security is being swept away by stock market gyrations, storms, pirates, etc. Even more insidious are the ways that other people’s words affect our self image and our dreams. If someone criticizes something we are proud of, we either become defensive or depressed.

When I can’t wrap my mind around a problem, then I become more and more worried and stressed. Certainly some of the big news items are too big for most people to comprehend and understand. When we get trapped in looking at all the negative things around us and analyzing how this or that event affects us, we can easily find ourselves falling into despair. The world seems out of control and with it our lives.

There is a different response though. Jesus assures us that though there will be “wars, tumults, and rumors of wars...earthquakes in diverse places…the end is not yet.” In I John, we are admonished “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God…you are of God and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Anyone with children knows that they don’t worry about little things. They just want to figure out how to climb higher or explore more. We, on the other hand fret about the ‘what ifs’ of their adventures. Like ‘what if he falls from the climbing net?’ Our heavenly Father wants us to be just as care free.

Our Lord calls us to “come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Only when we can let go of trying to make sense of life and problems on our own and let God be in control of our minds, only then will we find peace.

Joseph in the Old Testament had a lot to worry about. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers. Then just when things started looking up, he was falsely accused of rape and imprisoned. Joseph had a lot to worry about. It was only when he was finally able to let God be in control of his mind and actions that he found peace and freedom. In my book, It is I, Joseph, he finds himself in prison and begins to understand that it was his actions that brought him low.

“I wept for the love I squandered in my arrogance and cried out for pardon even though I knew that I would never have the chance to be reconciled to my brothers. Suddenly, one morning I awakened not troubled, but with a sense of peace. I knew, somehow, that the One God was real and that there was a plan for my life. On my knees, I offered myself to God.
“God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I know You have a mighty plan. I see that I needed to learn humility and dependence on Your power alone. God of Abraham, who You brought from Ur and promised descendants as the stars of the night, let me follow You as he did. God of Isaac, saved from sacrifice by the ram of God and made heir to the promise, may my life be a sacrifice to You. God of my father Jacob, wrestling with You and named Israel, I see that I, too, have wrestled against You. My God, Ruler of the Universe, You have kept me alive in the pit, in slavery, and in prison. You are still with me. Whatever Your plan is, here I am. Use me as You will. I will no longer seek my way, but your will.”
Then I cried tears of healing and cleansing for my soul. The rage was gone, replaced by peace. Fear and despair were swallowed up in a deep serenity of spirit.”

It’s hard to do, but just for a little while, try letting God be in charge of your mind and leave the worrying to God. I wonder what changes that would bring about in our lives and world if we each did that…?

Are there problems that keep your mind from being fully God’s? What part of your mind do you need to let God take over so you can fully Love God with all your mind?

Like Joseph, we need to remember that God is in charge and ‘all will be well, all manner of things will be well’ as Julian of Norwich is famous for saying.

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